BSKi, a singer from New York that blends Latin rhythms with 90’s R&B, Funk and Hip-Hop in a style that he refers to as “sancochofunk” (sanchocho= Stew or gumbo) released his debut EP, Keep it Light, yesterday. Recently, I got the chance to chat with him about music, his EP and life in general.
ME: How did you get started in music?
BSKi: I came from a musical family. Both of my parents sing. My father plays guitar. They even sang a duet at their wedding. I’m the youngest of 4 children, and we were always glued to the radio. Music was one of those things that was always there. I just thought everybody’s family was that way. I didn’t realize that other people didn’t sing.
ME: So did you come from the era where you had to sit by the radio and wait for your song to come on so you could tape it?
BSKi: Totally. I remember sitting by the radio waiting for the Humpty Dance to come on so I could tape it after first seeing it on a show called Pump It Up. That was like one of the only shows that showed Rap videos at the time. It was amazing and I just waited. I finally caught it and immediately I just played it over and over again. I just sat there with a piece of paper so I could transcribe it. I remember the one lyric, “I drink up all the Hennessy ya got on ya shelf” and since I was 11, I thought he was saying Heaven See. We didn’t have the luxury of looking up lyrics on the internet back then.
ME: Who is your favorite artist to work with?
BSKi: The gentleman that produced the record, Greg Mayo, is a frequent collaborator and I am in awe of his talents as a musician and as a writer and producer. But there is a long list of people here in NY that I get to work with and collaborate with and I don’t have enough time to list them all.
ME: What’s your favorite venue or town to play in and why?
BSKi: I’ve kind of made my home at Rockwood Music Hall. A lot of my friends and my relationships kind of grew out of that room, so I have a special connection to that place. My new favorite is the place I’m playing at tomorrow night for my EP release- C’mon Everybody in Brooklyn. There’s a vibe and something brewing over there. The variety and type of music happening over there is just refreshing.
As for towns, I grew up in New York and haven’t really lived anywhere else. I don’t do a lot of touring, so right now NY is all I know. I want to tour more. I want to see the country, but right now as far as towns, I’d have to say New York.
ME: If you could pick an instrument to play that you can’t currently play, what would it be?
BSKi: Piano for sure. Just from a songwriting and composition perspective. I could do a lot more on my own when I record my demos and what not. It’s just a big sounding instrument. I marvel when I see people like my friend Aakie Bermiss (who guests on the record) play and accompany themselves on it. It’s a vibe that I really love.
ME: Is there anyone on the charts today that you feel resembles your ‘sound’?
BSKi: I feel a kinship to Emily King. When she first came out I heard her and was like, it’s amazing that this type of music is being embraced. I love the stuff she’s been doing. While we don’t particularly sound alike, I think we’re likely drawing from the same pool of influences. As for actual pop artists, people sometimes mention Bruno Mars or Miguel when they hear my music but that’s probably just because we’re all Latino R&B singers (laughs). But his stuff is more geared for top 40. I didn’t plan my album for the masses necessarily; I was just trying to make music I liked. This project started as a little vanity project with Greg Mayo. As much as I love what I did with Live Society, in hindsight I suppose I never got to go as R&B as I wanted to. With this EP I am excited to have something that I can show people when they ask, “What are you about?” I can hand them this EP.
ME: If you could sing a duet with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
BSKi: A singer whose voice completely blows me away is Charlie Aponte from the legendary Puerto Rican Salsa orchestra El Grand Combo. He’s just amazing and would blow me out of the water but I would be honored to sing with a guy like that.
ME: Name some items on your bucket list- musically or personally
BSKi: I would love to tour the world with this. Get to go play in all these different parts of the country. See all of America, all of the world- Puerto Rico, Africa, Europe. It was also important to make something I could dance to. I find when I’m really into music, when I’m in my freest moments, I’m just dancing, like an idiot, to what the band is grooving on. I wanted to make something of that on my own. And it’s universal all around the world. These rhythms and these styles that we are doing come from Africa and far away and long ago and it’s something everyone in the world can tap into. I hope I can do something that would be well received.
ME: Anything else you’d like to share?
BSKi: I would encourage people to still seek out good music, whether it’s mine or not. People will say there is no good music and I think in 2016 there is no excuse for that with the scope and reach of the internet. This year alone there are some amazing projects. Search it out and support good art.
BSKI’s debut EP, Keep it Light, is out now. You can get it here: iTunes