[ONE’S TO WATCH] SOCIETY OF ALUMNI
To continue the Ones To Watch series, we get to know music & creative collective…Society Of Alumni.
We dug a little deeper into the underground and came across must know music and creative collective Society Of Alumni. The creative and music clique are leaving their mark in today’s music culture by allowing their distinctive sound to rest on the ears of the group’s ever-growing fan base.
Society Of Alumni meaning brings together elements of 90’s Hip Hop, Blues, Jazz & Soul while sprinkling atoms of current affairs and trends. The name surely isn’t to be forgotten and by taking the formation as a movement more than a group or band, the creative collectives lay its deep-rooted principals to inspire a generation of youth to take their own unique and creative path, to emphasise their own voice and ideas and to become their own Alumni.
The collective expands across London with members reaching far and wide, more importantly, the group came together over an organic family bond and when listening to the also known as SOA, they continue to create a harmonious hip-hop sound backed up by a refreshing and relevant edge.
We thought it was a link up well overdue and so we caught up with Vels, Devante, Isee, Bad Jay, Mak, Flewid and Mula in a nostalgic childhood playground in East London. To read the full interview below.
Jim: SOA, How did you all meet?
Society: In 2012 society of alumni was formed, Mula was amongst the first to join SOA followed by iSee, Jaspo, Flewid, Mak, Vels, Devante & Bad Jay. Although we all joined at different times ultimately it was the passion for music, hip-hop specifically that brought us all together along with a desire to make a change to the UK music scene. Mula was introduced to SOA through his boy Knucky who was the first to meet Mo the manager & founder of the label. Mula & iSee knew each other from young, but it was one night out in brick lane after a show that he was properly introduced to SOA, leading to his involvement. iSee knew Jaspo from school and shared a passion for music linking up in class. He brought Jaspo along who soon became the in-house producer of the camp. Jaspo then brought in Flewid, who had been friends locally for years, Flewid has been with Society Of Alumni since he was 13 years old, Jaspo also brought in Mak, who he knew from skating.
Mula brought Vels through to a video shoot soon after that around the same time Devante was introduced, he had a relationship with the camp after meeting the mandem after a Pro era function. ISee also brought in Badjay who he grew up with in Brixton.
Who’s been or musical inspirations and what references do you use?
SOA: As a collective, some of our influences Jamla, The Wu and TDE.
Their artistic approach to hip-hop is something we admire. We appreciate the level of
creativity, talent and work ethic collectives like these bring to the game. Being one of the first collectives of our kind and coming from London we hope to leave a new legacy using the inspiration from legendary figures that came before us as a driving force to establish a strong presence in our culture, and to push it forward on a global scale.
Vels: All of my mum’s favorite songs, from growing up listening to music with my mum, Madonna in there and stuff like that and then it’s also the passion too, that’s an important part. There’s that variety that’s what we all connect with.
Mak: As it says in our name Society Of Alumni – students of the game. We all studied the best to do it, mainly Hip-hop that’s where we come from, them sounds over in New York. That whole golden era from New York.
Isee: My pops used to play people like heavy D, old skool hip-hop to house you know, to earth wind and fire. It was all going on man. All of that was my kind of stuff, Mary J Blige, Erykah Badu, Common. That’s why I think we can all thank our people’s for raising us on the good stuff.
Bad Jay: For me, it was a very R&B filled, with sounds from Music Soul Child and things of that nature. Hip-hop side of things, The one most distinctive album for me though was amongst the 50 cent era was defining for me and it was ‘Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, like man that was like a game changer for me, an eye-opener. I think it was for all of us. I was about seven. I have a few other nineties interests and like hardcore, hip-hop like Mobb Deep.
Devante: I grew up with a lot of différent music in my household man haha. It was good, I listened to a lot of hip-hop R&B and a lot of Ghanaian music. Even up to my earliest memory of hip-hop is like Talib Kweli, High Tek, Mos Def and Redman, that growing up and a lot of the R&B grooves coming up too. We always had grime creeping up too, true grime. When growing up into a teenager you start to explore new genres and love new sounds.
Mula: My favorite MC is Big L, like when I heard him from the start and just thought yeah this guy! I could do that shit forever man that levels. For me I just live music, when growing up my mum used to play a lot of old stuff, Madonna you know, a wide mixture. If I like the beat and I’ll just jump on it, natural man. I’ll just vibe to it.
Flewid: I grew up in a musical household, my dad was a producer and my uncle too, He raps and produces as well. My mum would be blasting all types of stuff from hip-hop to rock and of course at a young age when you’re blessed with that, It came clear to me that’s what I wanted to do for life for real – them guys influenced me heavy and from young, I wanted to do make music and it all kind of just elevated.
Mula: There’s just no musical structure here because sometimes you’ll listen to someone and be like who’s that but no idea you’ve heard the artist before. There’s a lot of people doing anything and everything so your getting waves of experimental music from all directions, it’s mad. People aren’t too sure of what they’re allowed to do, what they can or what is even actually possible. In order to just cut through the mess and step up the levels but do so clearly. There’s not a lot of clarity.
Vels: A lot of people make music to appeal to the masses for the quick come up – it makes it easy, it’s the mainstream you know. You’re not putting any structure to it, you’re not packaging it right, it’s not all together there.
Jim: Vels, you think it’s any different for you in any way as a female rapper?
Vels: I make music that people can relate to, not so much to entertain. Like there’s a few people I really do listen out for but yeah as I’d say inevitably it’s going to be different.
Bad Jay: In terms of the scene over here (UK) I think it’s grown, I’m very in tune with it. I listen to the UK drill and afrobeats however, I say that but the thing here to consider is that the scene is very young and in terms of business and marketing I don’t think we’ve achieved the level of growth. It’s still new. A lot of people went up the pop route but it’s proven to work better for us when we just keep it natural and keeping it urban.
Mak: I feel like a lot of the mainstream is just very same and boring sometimes though
Mula: See that’s where it comes back down to structure. It plays a very important role here.
Devante: The thing is with the UK scene, I don’t think it promotes longevity – there are some big platforms where people can upload their music and they can upstream but it’s the sounds of those artists is mainstream as we said. It doesn’t promote being different and being yourself and pushing the boundaries.
Mula: Bad Jay, I gotta disagree with you when you say the scene is young because this has been going in deeper and there have been people in place before that could have helped build the structure or set levels. The scene will always be young as it’s always young people in it but what about those that are still in it that mature and grow in it? That’s why we work to have our destiny’s in our own hands.
Jim: It’s good in regards to how switched on you all are, it’s incredible. Now I remember meeting you way back in Cardiff supporting Astroid Boys, that was energy for real but I was curious to know, what have been some of your most memorable shows?
SOA: yeah word, shout-outs Astroid Boys them man killed it, man – yeah it was an eventful one for sure.
Isee: Wait hold tight, there are two mad ones for real! Remix 21 was levels set. It was a collaboration with the national lottery and it was just a madness. They had lottery balls and confetti and we were on stage doing our thing and all this was going on, it felt so crazy.
Mula: A really good one was Bishop Nehru, that was mental. Shout out to Bishop, that was a different experience.
Jim: That was at Oslo right?
Devante: That show was proof that you can exist amongst it, not just aspire to be something. He was a very dope person and was a perfect example if someone who’s very humble and pleasant in the game. You really can be yourself with music
Bad Jay: For me, it would have had to of been when we performed our first headline show at Battersea arts center last April with MR I AM NEXT. On an indie ting, we did everything from artwork to the set up like it was cool man.
Mak: Yeah word, we put on a show that night. That’s when all the colors in the camp started to glow, I’m studying graphic design at uni so, me and vels got down all creative and shit. It was live.
Flewid: That was an Intimate space too, something like 150 capacity and we were shown so much love from literally every single person, it was just makes you think.
Vels: That was the first time we saw how many people had actually shown us love and been with us on our journey, that’s when we saw all that in a heartfelt perspective, our own show. Another hard show was at Mini jams, so we put on our own show with Jade Avia. We did up our own collage going plastered across all the walls and we also had a live band playing with us that night too, that was special.
Society Of Alumni have been working around the clock to compose their latest project “Here As We Are”, There is unfortunately only the one track available to enjoy from the unreleased project and is almost certain to cause chaos when it drops.
Listen to from the new project “Here As We Are” by Society Of Alumni below;
Photography by @josh_snaps