“In my core, I’ve always been drawn to be more experimental, I want to show people they can control their own narrative.”
Something happens when an artist decides to shift course; they are either embraced or dismissed. Such a decision to branch out and explore new creative territory has the potential to end a career, with fans aching for the familiar feeling of their earlier work. But then there are those rare instances when it works and everything clicks, as in the case with GAWVI and the overall turn his sound and career has taken.
Sitting in the studio at Reach Records, GAWVI shares one reason for turning his focus from producing hip-hop to electronic pop. “In my core, I’ve always been drawn to be more experimental,” he says. “I want to show people they can control their own narrative.”
After almost a decade of crafting chart-topping gems as a hip-hop producer, GAWVI’s accolades began to amount. He worked with mainstream heavyweights like Rodney Jerkins and Pharrell, had his music featured on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and produced numerous hits for the likes of Lecrae, Andy Mineo, and Trip Lee. But in time, the multi-faceted producer was ready to raise the stakes. This led GAWVI to step out as a solo artist in 2016. Armed with deep artistic conviction and an arsenal of soundscapes to boot, he unleashed two EP’s – Lost in Hue and Holding Hue – the former which hit #2 on the Billboard Dance/Electronic charts. The projects re-introduced GAWVI as a force to be reckoned within the industry. Singles like “Late Nights” and “In the Water,” which peaked at #1 on the Hot CHR Top 40 chart, helped take GAWVI to new audiences. That success has in turn helped him reach upwards of 2 million Spotify streams to date.
While last year’s lauded releases did much to showcase GAWVI’s wide-ranging capabilities, it has all been a precursor to now. Next up, his much-anticipated full-length debut We Belong. At its heart, We Belong is an earnest and pulsating battle cry, a statement of hope, truth, and acceptance that is apropos for our time. From start to finish, We Belong overflows with a clear and unwavering sense of mission. Pounding drums, synths, and intricately layered instrumentation captivate the listener and bring them into GAWVI’s reality, where faith and self-love reign. “It’s so important for people to understand their identity,” GAWVI says. Born to an El Salvadorian father and a Dominican mother, embracing his Latin heritage and identity has always been a major factor in GAWVI’s creative approach.“There’s a lot of power that comes from knowing who you are,” he adds. “Only then can you start making an impact in your world. That’s what this album is about.”
We Belong does much to prove GAWVI’s staying power not only as a producer but as a full-fledged artist with something to say. “Closer,” the worshipful first single, is at once reverent and undeniably fun. Its synth-pop bounce is addictive and also displays GAWVI’s tight grasp on today’s musical landscape. He knows what gets people moving and he knows how to deliver just that. Then there are tracks like “Rock N Roll,” the Latin-infused “Cumbia,” and “GodSpeed” that reaffirm GAWVI as a hybrid with the chops to communicate an array of emotions through sound. His stadium-size beats and swelling choruses stick with you long after you shut them off. One of the most fervent and memorable numbers is “Hold On,” an impassioned call for intimacy with our creator. “Your voice echoes, takes me to places unknown.” It’s a reminder that, while the world may fail to satisfy our deepest longings, true fulfillment is found only in the unseen. To have GAWVI tell it, “What I do is just an extension of who I am. And We Belong is my heartbeat, it’s my declaration that everyone has a unique purpose and plan.”
GAWVI’s vision is to pioneer EDM music in the CCM industry, taking it to where it has never gone before. With We Belong, you get the feeling he’s exactly where he needs to be – in the present but with his eyes set on the future.
North Cowichan, BC
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GAWVI – live on the red carpet at the 2016 Dove Awards