Photography by Javanie Stephens
North London rapper GBNGA is an undeniable smooth sound for every sort of listener. With the success of his latest release 'Sleep', a garage track written at the start of lockdown, we caught up with the alternative rapper to understand the process behind it.
Listen to GBNGA's latest track 'SLEEP'
Let us talk a little about you, where did you grow up and how did you get started in music?
I grew up in North London, Tottenham which is where I’m currently based, and I started making music when I was 13/14. I was always interested in poems when I was in Primary school but when I became familiar with rap music, I saw both as one. I used to do anything that involved music like doing performances at Church and having clashes with my friends at school. One of my favourite memories was going to studio with a batch of my boys and stepping in the booth for the first time.
Your latest release ‘sleep’ has racked up over 25k streams, congrats. Talk to us about the single, what was the creative process like?
Sleep is a special track and there is no surprise that it is doing well. The streams are good but what matters most to me are the people and places it is touching. I have had people talk to me about how much they relate to the lyrics and enjoy the video. It is those sorts of interactions that make me feel good as an Artist. In terms of the process, it was simple but complex. At the start of lockdown, I was going through a breakup which prompted me to write the song and in the same period, I made a home studio. The lyrics were recorded in my room and I sent my vocals to get mixed/mastered. After that, I saved up months of my furlough to work on the video just before I was made redundant.
You have also dropped visuals for ‘sleep’, what inspired the concept and how did it come to life?
The music video was inspired by representing different versions of Black love within London. I came up with the concept of showing multiple couples which was inspired by Mura Masa videos that were directed by Yoni Lappin. I wanted to show three separate stories and show how they all intertwine at the same party. It took months of planning and preparing a budget. I sat down with my team and made a treatment about the idea of different couples in London. Sleep has a garage vibe, so we consciously made sure that the video had a UK flavour to it. After that we linked up with Fences and shot the video in two days.
Watch GBNGA's visuals for his latest track 'SLEEP'
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Hmm…The most recent advice would be appreciating the small wins. This would be my favourite piece of advice up till now.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Skepta, J Cole and Frank Ocean.