I’m not going to focus on how this is the last post of 2017 from me, but actually I’m going to focus on how this is the first of many posts coming from me that will be bringing you all in to the fantastic collective that is – Vibe City (@Vibe__city). From running events and podcasts to being skilled in photography and music production, the people behind this platform are a force to be reckoned with this coming year. Over the last couple of months specifically, they have released a range of podcasts under Vibe City Radio, including the ‘Fresh Faces’ series showcasing upcoming artists in hip hop and rnb, and my favourite: ‘Pro-Juiced 001’ celebrating the work of their pick of some very special upcoming producers.
Recently, at the Young Music Boss Awards, speaking to and listening to many leading and upcoming personalities in the industry, the underlying message was that there can never be too many creative platforms. Instead of complaining of a ‘saturated market’, creative people need to work together to promote their talents, craft their skills and just simply enjoy and show appreciation for each other’s work. With this message in mind I can’t be happier to be writing for Vibe City – and for you guys to get to know this steady growing platform and the people behind it.
So, who are Vibe City?
Collectively: Vibe City is a creative platform founded by WAX (@Waxontrax) & Abir (@abirhattabi). Our aim with Vibe City is to create a space where you’re able to showcase what you love creating whether it’s music, film, photography or graphic design. Our main focus however, is music because it’s such an important part of our culture. Growing up in such a big city like London, with all its diversity and cultures, we’ve found that music is the one thing that brings us all together. The city is so big yet so small, everyone knows everyone, you walk down the street and chances are you’re gonna brush shoulders with someone you know.
From as long as I could remember I have always wanted to be in the creative industry. People know me to have a weird creative flair about me, probably because I am a weird creative flair. I get ideas to create across different mediums, I enjoy coming up with concepts for film, specifically music videos (helping my music mates with their visuals). I found that I have a good eye for photography, that kind of happened by accident but now I have made it a part of my lifestyle.
Fashion photography is probably my favourite to shoot because I can justify my weirdness. One of my closest friends, Sutinee who is just such a style icon, is the best person to shoot with because she just gets me – nothing is ever too outrageous. If you haven’t already gathered, I love to talk which brings me to my last point – radio is my best friend. I love to meet new people and over the years I have come to find that the topic regardless of where it starts ends up being about music (usually some freestyling by the end of it). I’ll let WAX take over now, he can tell you about how we met and why we chose to work together.
So, I’ve always had a knack for computers, when I was like 10 I used to chip PSP’s and stuff for the people in the year above. My mind is quite logical and mathematical; I love strategy games like Chess, Snooker and Poker and I think that learning those things from young has really helped me with what I do today. I learned how to play the guitar and piano in primary school but I never really took it seriously, it was just another one of those things that I could do. I only seriously started producing when I was 18 – which is also when I met Abir. We used to go to schools that were like 5 minutes from each other so we had mutual friends and one day we met and we just got along so well. We both had mutual interests, not just musically, but even the smallest things like, the same flavor of crisps, the same TV shows, the same fruit and most importantly, we had the same sense of humour. I’ve always been the type of person to work for myself and I have always wanted to venture into my own business – with Abir’s creative juices and my skillsets it just made sense for us to put pen to paper.
When/how did you get into music and then how was Vibe City formed?
Abir: When did I get into music? When did music get into me more like. In all seriousness, music has always been a part of my life. My uncles both had completely different tastes in music; one of them is a hardcore Bob Marley fan so I grew up listening to him and various other Reggae artists; my other uncle would constantly play UK Garage blasting out Pirate radio through his sound system. I was exposed to different genres but I have developed my own taste which is mainly Hip-Hop, Jazz/Soul influenced sounds and groovy funky basses. My palette is quite eclectic, I still love Indie/Rock, Grime of course but I gravitate mostly towards Hip-Hop.
Wax: Like Abir, and I’m sure a lot of us, music has always been a part of my life. I remember being super young at my cousins in Harlesden and coming through the window was T2 – Heartbroken from a car driving down the street. In year 7 when I met Mojo, he put me on to Grime. He showed me JME and with my addictive personality I immediately searched for every freestyle and set that he’d done. I actually downloaded a set that he done on Logan Sama’s show from Grimepedia and I had it on my Sony Ericson for years. I wish I still had it but that’s probably gone forever. But yeah, myself, Abir and a few friends started something in 2013/14 called Untxtled. We held an open mic night and had a few performers and it was actually a really good night but after that we didn’t really have a plan and things kinda just dissolved. Early in 2017 we started up Vibe City this time just me and Abir. The reason Untxtled dissolved is because not everyone was on the same page or moving at the same pace, so Vibe City essentially is Untxtled rebranded. Throughout them 3 years we both grew and developed our skills so much, we both put in 100% and I think that’s a main reason why we work so well together.
What do Vibe City do?
Collectively: Right now we’re pushing Vibe City Radio. Soon to be on Spotify, but for now on Soundcloud you can find playlists that we have curated and specialist podcasts. We have playlists like ‘THE JUICE’ that showcase some of our favourite ‘Projuicers’ because we feel like producers don’t enough credit for their work. Our ‘FRESH FACES’ podcast features up and coming artists that haven’t broken out to mainstream yet but are equally as talented if not more (in our opinion). A beer with friends… ‘Abir with friends’ is a radio show styled podcast that I’ve been working on which will feature me chatting away (as I do) with both industry and personal friends. My aim for this is to redefine “interviews” and create a show that focuses on good music and great conversation as opposed to the Q&A style radio show interviews. The artwork for all our podcasts and playlists are created from scratch by us both. We think that such good music in one place needs a piece of art that compliments it well. We take pride in our branding and think our artwork is a great reflection of our characters. It’s also super fun to make.
Is your taste in music the same as each other? How do you go about scouting artists to work with/ for the podcast?
Abir: Erm, generally it’s the same to be honest but we have slight differences. I think and I’m sure WAX would agree that I like a wider range of sounds. Honestly though, we rarely have disagreements on what sounds good to us which makes recording FRESH FACES and other podcasts so easy. I can go from something soothing like Robin Thicke – Lost Without You to SOLO 45 – Feed em to the Lions just because that’s what I feel like listening to.
Wax: Yeah, I’d agree. Abir listens to weirdo microwavable music. No, her taste in music is great and a fundamental part of our music selection. Scouting artists is so easy for us because we listen to music everyday finding new artists; not just to put in our podcasts, but because we actually want to find new music for ourselves. We’re basically doing our job without doing it if you get me?
In terms of working in the industry (Abir you’re a great podcast personality, WAX you also produce and do other bits) –Who inspires you? Where/who do you draw influence from?
Abir: Thank you, to be honest I’m just myself but that’s lovely to hear. That’s an interesting question because it’s actually the people closest to me that inspire me. WAX inspires me every day, his work ethic and his ability to teach himself skills that take the average person so long to master gives me the drive to want to do that for myself. That is probably why we work so well together – we draw out the best from each other. Also, people that are themselves inspire me, I like when individuals are happy being them and like what they like; this inspires me to do the same. I draw influence from quirky people, I think Tyler, The Creator is one of the coolest people
ever because he is just so colourful with his art and personality. I also think Amelia is sick, people know her as the chicken shop date girl but she’s so much more than that! She is a nugget and chips genius and so weird but wonderful.
Wax: Again, similar answers. People inspire me, every day. I feed off of energy from people and when that energy is positive and natural it makes me wanna work so much harder. Abir’s energy is so radiant and having that around me constantly only pushes me to be great. She has such crazy ideas and I think they’re so sick and with my skills she’s finally able to bring them to life. We definitely inspire each other and I think we have a great formula. A lot of people influence me in different ways; Micky Flanagan (the comedian) influences me. The way he tells his stories and then drops his punch line then out of nowhere he drops another punch line that tops the original punchline. That shit is inspiring. My biggest musical influence would definitely be Kendrick. I could go on all day about it but I’ll leave it at that.
What to you guys have planned/what can we look forward to from you in 2018?
Collectively: Honestly, we don’t wanna give away too much, but 2018 will be our busiest year yet. You can expect a lot of new music from WAX, he’s working on a few collaborative projects as well as his own EP. More Shbangers, more podcasts and also a lot more visuals. I think our characters are what people love about us and sometimes it can be difficult reflecting that through sound only, so you will definitely see a lot more videos of us. I think that’s all we’re allowed to say, but you will definitely know what we’re up to when the time comes.
Keep an eye out for more from Vibe City X The Part Timers in the coming weeks, where there’ll be some more in depth interviews with Abir and Wax about what they do, as well as some super ‘Artist Interview’ posts with talent plugged by Vibe City themselves.
For now – Happy Holidays – eat, drink, be merry and listen to the @vibe_city Shbangers in celebration of the festive season!