First, you make a roux…It’s the mix of New Orleans art, music, and culture stirred up into one pot to create the hot bowl of gumbo that is the BUKU Music & Arts Project. It’s simple in nature but represents the complex flavors of the city we all love, The Big Easy.
It’s been three years since the BUKU Project held its two-day festival on the sunset-ridden path of the Mississippi River. Now in less than a few days, our subculture of dance music, hip-hop, indie rock, and rap come together again at the Stacks.
Serving it up hot like gumbo…
With over 15,000 daily attendees traveling to Mardi Gras World- the spirit of Fat Tuesday is transformed into the “Too BUKU” lifestyle, celebrating our “Bukreatures” in this urban atmosphere.
From intimate indoor stages to industrial landscapes inspired by the very roots it’s grown from, attendees shuffle from stage to stage to experience the vast genres at the fest. Trickled with local musicians, graffiti artists, vendors, and more, the BUKU Project never shies away from showing the rest of the world what New Orleans has to offer.
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River Beats NOLA interviewed six artists residing in New Orleans: sfam, Lady Lavendar, TVBOO, GLBL WARMNG, Legatron Prime, & O.D.D. The Artist. From rap to dance and heavy dubstep, we wanted to hear their personal experience since the last BUKU in 2019 and talk to us about their excitement for its return. Check out the River Beats Interview below.
Q: Thank you for interviewing with me today, we are so excited to have yall here. Please introduce yourself to those reading!
GLBL WRMNG: “We are Pell and Dom of GLBL WRMNG…a collective of 20 plus artists, multiple producers, engineers, and executives in the city, mainly, people of color, mostly black -working together as independent artists to help the New Orleans music economy.”
sfam: “My name’s Michael Pearson. I’m from Gulfport, Mississippi. I’m Jacob Hoerner, I’m from Ocean Springs, Mississippi. We are SFAM. We’ve been knowing each other since we were like 10, 11 while playing soccer together, growing up before we started creating music together ”
LEGATRON PRIME: “I am Legaton Prime- local DJ, producer, event curator, party thrower. Fashion girl, all that…Whole gumbo of things.”
O.D.D. THE ARTIST: “I go by O.D.D. The Artist. From New Orleans, Louisiana, specifically Algiers. I define myself as an artist because I do multiple things. I don’t label myself as just a rapper or, you know, a musician because I am a visual artist. I produce, engineer, DJ. I do everything in the art I produce. I engineer, you know, that’s all me”
LADY LAVENDER: “My name is Beth or Lady Lavender…I chose specifically Lavender because it involves all the senses… I like that you can taste it, you can smell it, you can see it. I feel like you can feel it.”
TVBOO: “I go by Tvboo and I am just entirely obsessed with creating music. It’s what wakes me up every morning and it’s the reason behind everything I do, I just am totally submerged in music. It means everything to me.”
When things get uneasy in the Big Easy…
It was a mere 8 days before the BUKU Project when reality hit. The COVID-19 virus was starting to grab hold of New Orleans and everything was up in the air. NOLA residents waited for the Mayor to make her final announcement, which came only one week before the start of the festival – all live music would come to a stop, effective immediately. Our carefree city, usually bustling in the streets with brass instruments in hand, was silent.
When asked about the return of Buku, festivals, and live music in New Orleans- everyone shared an overwhelming sense of excitement and gratitude.
Q: It’s been years since the last BUKU! What we thought might blow over in two weeks continued for two years, obviously creating a massive halt in the music industry. How does it feel to see the return of BUKU?
sfam: “It’s amazing. Awesome. Very happy about it. We were nervous for a little while. We didn’t know what was gonna happen. As an artist, COVID almost either made you or broke you. At the time, we were at the peak of where we were at. We just got off multiple tours. We had just played Wakkan. We had just played Lost Land. We were just like, going, going, going but it just like stopped all momentum you had in its tracks. I’m just happy we’re back. Like, cause for a while there, it was like, man, what are we doing? We just started releasing music, like song after song, after song. Just been grinding and finally back to where we want to be! We’ve been going to BUKU since like 2013 after winning a DJ competition at Republic so it holds a very, very dear place in our hearts.”
LEGATRON: “It is really exciting- it’s a little nerve-wracking, but it’s so exciting to finally be on the BUKU stage. I was booked for 2020 which was canceled. And then I was rebooked for the one that followed that and we had to postpone it because of the surge. And then I got asked to come back for this one. It’s a good feeling to feel like we have something positive to look forward to. Outside of the world, just seems so scary now. Everything’s kind of just on edge, it’s tense. So, to have this little piece of joy that is music and festivals, and for me to perform and showcase my talent too, is very exciting. And it’s a good feeling. I’m excited.”
O.D.D. : “I never even went to BUKU actually, that’s the crazy part about it! So, I’m glad to be there for my first time and actually perform it. That’s gonna be such an experience… I know COVID was a bad time, but it was kind of perfect timing for me to actually like, expand and develop myself mentally as an artist because I didn’t really have the direction of where I wanted to go. I knew was I knew how to rap and I knew how to sing and I knew how to make music. So finding myself as an artist, I took that time out to actually like focus and hone down… Graduate from Upbeat Academy. It really helped me create my direction.”
LADY LAVENDAR: “Feels incredible. This month has felt pretty close, almost as close to normal as it can feel with BUKU coming back, Jazz Fest. It kind of feels like we picked up where we left off two years ago now. What’s really great is that a lot of people had time to just be at home and sit with your passions. I think a lot more people picked up wanting to be in the music industry. A lot of people left, but a lot there’s a lot of new faces coming in, which I think is great.”
GLBL WRMNG: “It’s special. When we first dropped the project, we weren’t able to perform as much as we wanted to. Do you know what I mean? So to be able to perform in this and come back around this year and do something like BUKU is crazy. It feels like it’s a good space as well to perform.”
TVBOO: “I’m excited, man. I mean, I’ve been Booked on it the last three years and it hadn’t happened. Finally, it’s happening! BUKU is what got me into electronic music when I was youngin. It was all ages at that point too, I was like 16 or 17. I didn’t know what electronic music was. I was already doing music and just went to electronic. It was a gradual transition at the time.”
Q: Living in New Orleans and getting to experience it as an artist- how has New Orleans music & culture influenced you?
O.D.D.: “I was six years old in 2006 and I had a hip hop class at my elementary school, I went to Eisenhower. That hip-hop class taught me how to rhyme and we actually recorded ourselves too also. I was always in New Orleans. I enjoyed that class specifically because of what was being taught to me. In 2013, I started producing myself and recorded my own song for the first time. Then Upbeat Academy- shout out to Mr. Z- they taught me a lot. It was very hands-on, they didn’t hold back any information from marketing, producing, engineering. Really developed me actually.”
TVBOO: “Whenever I was living in Mississippi, I was like the best producer around. I was the best DJ. Then I moved here and I suddenly wasn’t. So I think that just really pushed me. It made me get real serious. It’s like, okay if I’m gonna do this, I gotta step it up. I can’t just stay where I’m at. I think the thing that inspired me the most was that there was a scene here already, there were other people doing what I was doing. And I just wanted to be friendly competition. “
LADY LAVENDAR: “I really found love and interest in DJing through working at several radio stations. I worked for WTUL and WWOZ and kind of watched radio DJs do their thing. I got to really taste all different kinds of music from down here. And just seeing the vastness of music and culture down here up close was like a huge inspiration. There’s just a lot of dance music history here that is just anecdotal and word of mouth. Working with senior DJs has really been an honor and definitely is a huge inspiration because there’s a lot of music history electronic music history from Louisiana that is just not talked about. There’s just endless music history to be learned here.”
GLBL WRMNG: “I think it gives us certain confidence. Like Lil Wayne, the Hot Boys, I’m talking about like big prominent figures in the genres for us gave that certain kind of swag and confidence to bring with us as well. And then jazz and blues- that’s just a whole different world of its own. We can take that and put it into our own music in certain ways is really special. It’s almost like a superpower. And being a dynamic collective, it’s like going back to the gumbo, going back to the root. I think that there’s so much here that not one New Orleans experience is singular. We’re very diverse. And that’s what you see on this project. It’s so many artists, yet it feels like New Orleans because New Orleans is diverse.”
sfam: “I mean, the culture here is better than anywhere. Obviously, that’s biased, but where else are you find culture to like find it? Not just New Orleans, but Louisiana as a whole. The music is just, all over the place. They’re open to anything and the culture is fantastic and that the culture here just is that influenced us straight up. I don’t think we would be doing what we’re doing today if we hadn’t moved here from Mississippi.”
LEGATRON: “It influenced me to just be fearless. Just to be creative and be confident. New Orleans has always been a very eclectic creative city. I’ve always been really eclectic and creative, and it’s come from seeing very eclectic people on the street. We have just regular neighborhood people, with these big personalities- the way they dressed, the way they walked with it, the way they talk is so confident. And it’s so New Orleans, you know, you go outside of the city and you can’t find that you go outside of the state. It’s what really pushed me to be myself and all that I am. I look to my community and my upbringing definitely for that.”
Q: Now that Buku is only a few days away, what can people expect from your set?
LEGATRON: “I can go from urban music, hip hop, R&B, rap, trap. I go into an alternative to a little bit of mix of EDM, house, disco. I’m all over the place. And that’s generally my music interest. In some settings, it’s more specific, more curated, but it’s a full mix of things.”
sfam: “Experimental bass. It’s very hip-hop-influenced. You can probably hear with our drums a good bit. Expect to hear some things off our new album… I think it’s our best work nice by far. And it’s got a lot more melodies and, and musical actual musical elements involved rather than just crazy sound design.”
TVBOO: “Sassy, bass-filled music. I’m the goofy guy. My music’s goofy. My visuals are dumb. And the things I’m saying on stage are ridiculous… If I had to explain my music to people, I’m the side b*tch. I’m not the heaviest, I’m not the most insane set you’ve ever seen, but I’m the most fun. I’m the one you go to to get ratchet and rowdy!”
O.D.D: “So you will see some of my new album I just dropped on March 20th. You’ll really see my development because I dropped new music I haven’t really shown. It’s produced by me, all my own beats. I focused on the LGBT community, and, depression because as a college student, that’s what I was going through. Life challenges and lifestyles.”
LADY LAVENDAR: “Lots of dancing. Lots of dancing, high energy. I like to play with different moods, different energies. I’m definitely excited that I get to play in the ballroom and be inside. So definitely expect a dark fun, sweaty dance floor. Musically, I’m gonna go all over the place. I have an hour, so I’m gonna cram in a bunch of different kinds of music. If I’d have any expectations to give, I’d say go in with an open heart and open ears. And just expect to have fun!”
GLBL WRMNG: “A literal gumbo pot, little gumbo pot. Like some R&B, some alternative style music, hip hop, rap. So it’s a nice little blend though, all cooked together.”
Q: The pandemic really slowed things down for most people, allowing artists to really hone in on their craft. What does 2022 have in store for you and what do you want to relay to your fans?
GLBL WRMNG: “Tons of new music. Just working together as a group and as a collective, but also everybody has their individual projects. So a lot of music is coming from the whole, the whole gang. Really just bigger projects and expansion. That’s awesome. And for our fans, we are very thankful for everybody who showed us love this past year and going into this new year and going into all the, of our new adventures. I feel like we want to bring everybody on the journey… Yeah. I would say, I would say think less, do more, practice, and study your craft because practice creates confidence. Thank you for the continued support, because we believe in the community that supports us.”
O.D.D.: “My new EP just released and you can check out my music video “Single again”, it’s produced by my little brother, he’s 19 years old. Work hard, believe in yourself. Bust your ass to get what you want. That’s how I grew up. Follow me at @oddtheartist”
sfam: “We just dropped our debut album on March 18th. I think this is our best work by far. It definitely all is very, in our opinion, very cohesive and works well together. Other than that got a lot of shows. We’re playing Beyond Wonderland at the Gorge. We have collaborations with a lot of homies right now we will be releasing. To our fans, thank you for sticking around. Keep sticking around. Cuz we got our best music coming. “
TVBOO: “I just have a bunch of stuff. I have an album coming out later this year I’ve been working on, and I’ll be doing a headline tour off of that album. It’s gonna be the biggest thing I’ve ever done so check that out.”
Legaton: “More festivals, more traveling, more opportunities to spread this New Orleans energy, more business ventures, more just pushing out. I’m definitely getting into producing more parties instead of being booked for parties. I cannot wait to jam with y’all. I need y’all to bring y’all vocals. I need y’all put y’all ones in the air. I need for y’all to throw up y’all sevens with y’all partners. We’re gonna have a good ass time.”
Lady Lavender: “Thank you to my fans for coming to my shows. Thank you for reposting my mixes, my music. I see it and I appreciate it and does not go unnoticed. I feel really lucky that I can play whatever music I like and I don’t have to ever, feel pressured to look a certain way, play a certain thing, or change up who I authentically am. I will be producing an event called Lavish at its new home at the Rabbit Hole featuring all women and non-binary DJ talent. You can catch my after-parties for Buku: Friday, The Rabbit Hole presents: CHRISSY , Saturday Perish & Pleasure Savior presents: RECONCILIATION @ Santos Bar, and Sunday FTR NOLA presents MOTIF at the Rabbit Hole.
Catch these artists and more at theBukuProject.com, March 25+26.