Singaporean rapper BGourd on his green suit, debut EP 'Veggie Wraps Vol. 1', and North East Social Club
We first noticed BGourd when he did a short set to support his pal, producer Halal Sol, during a recent Noise Music Mentorship showcase at the Esplanade. Head to toe in a green one-piece suit, his face was obviously masked, but his unique flows certainly came through.
His debut four-track EP, Veggie Wraps Vol. 1 — which was recently released in January — contrasts sick head-bopping house beats courtesy of Halal Sol with swaggy self-penned lyrical wit that reference everything from "cock fights in Bali" to Comme des Garçons.
We caught up with the young enigmatic figure and his manager Christopher Sim who's behind the rowdy parties of North East Social Club. Here's what went down.
How did BGourd come about?
BGourd: I started about three years ago. BGourd is short for bitter gourd because, metaphorically, bitter gourd is a vegetable that not a lot of people like. It's an acquired taste, right? I expected that my music would also be an acquired taste. My first EP, Veggie Wraps Vol. 1, was released in early Jan and is a quick ease in.
Everyone is probably wondering if there's any significance to the whole green suit.
BGourd: I would reference Canadian socialogist Erving Goffman in The Presentation of Life and Everyday Self. It's about putting a different face forward when I'm on stage and taking it off like a mask when I'm done. Everyone has masks in different social situations and I wanted this mask to be very clear. There's no ambiguity; this is who I am when I rap; I am Bgourd. It's also pays homage to MF Doom. I made the first suit I wore, but I've found one that has nice cut-outs.
Does it change the way you perform?
BGourd: It makes it harder to breathe. It covers my nose, but I've tried to make it work. It's a little harder outdoors for sure. Last year, I opened for Bohan Phoenix at a rooftop bar and it was super hot!
Could you explain some of the tracks on the EP?
BGourd: "Waste" talks about being a try-hard in this day and age, so it's a little bit of a diss track. Funnily enough, I do try hard to put out great lyrics. That's why it took me three years as well. I conducted research on the kinds of sounds I wanted to include and the influences that I wanted to pull from. I wanted to merge the flows of Nas with the beats of Vince Staples.
Your songwriting definitely stands out, because you drop some pretty dope references that aren't related to love or any other popular themes.
BGourd: I respect people who can write convincingly about love. I would argue, though, that there's a lot of emotion in my tracks. I do take quite long to write, because of the high expectations that I have for myself. I listen to Danny Brown's insane bars and I aim to reach that level at least. If not, I'm not making any impact whatsoever.
Wil you be releasing more volumes in the near future?
BGourd: BGourd is going to have a big year in 2020. New editions will launch once every quarter. All of them will be mini EPs as I don't believe in rap as a long form in today's scene of quick listening.
The first volume was with Halal Sol. The second one will be with Fauxe. I'm working with my brother on the third one while a close friend of mine who hasn't produced anything is trying out on the fourth one. I want to explore each of their distinct sounds as much as possible. The green suit acts like a green screen in a way; I take on anything that I deem interesting enough.
Let's talk about North East Social Club. Christopher, how did that come about?
Christopher: I realised that there are different segments within our local music scene that are closed off from one another. Yet, there's a lot of crossover among fans who listen to all kinds of genres. North East Social is all about bringing these communities together. Our first show at The Projector sold out within five hours.
What's next for BGourd and North East Social Club?
Christopher: BGourd's EP launches on 8 February and he has a couple of other shows lined up as well.
BGourd: 2020 is going to be the year of the gourd.
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