Genre-defying, rising star — Bklava — drops her highly anticipated debut EP, the self-titled Bklava. The Brighton-based, Irish-Lebanese star has been carving out her sound amongst names such as Annie Mac and Conducta, and what a name she's making for herself. Releasing on the iconic Ministry Of Sound, Bklava is infectious, emotive, and full of serious wobblers. Blending elements from UKG and house with powerful vocals, she confronts issues from love and mental health to toxic masculinity, gender roles and heartbreak. The candid lyrics, wobbling basslines and shimmering pop melodies come mix up a wicked concoction; it's simply irresistible. Bklava caught up with EARMILK to discuss her debut release, her collective Spin Suga and musical influences — as well as what’s next for this huge up-and-comer.
A debut EP marks a huge milestone for any artist, and we had to ask how Bklava plans on making the most of her celebrations. With the UK's lockdown regulations changing by the day, she explains "I’m going to celebrate with some friends if I can (as long as tier three doesn’t hit Brighton by then). If not, it will be a glass of wine at home blasting my EP and doing my little happy dance!"
This begs the question — what is the perfect setting to enjoy Bklava in? Whilst strong UKG flavours make the EP a shoe-in for the club, tracks like "Hot Shot" were made for self-care nights and relaxation. The first half of the EP is straight-up, feel-good garage; Bklava's sound flawlessly merges pop and underground sounds to bring something special to the table. "Thinkin' of You" combines a choppy bassline with incredibly catchy vocals to make a summer anthem, think sun, cocktails and pool parties, and you're just about there. "Back to Then" keeps the energy high, with blissful pads and nifty percussion layered over old-school sounding vocals to give the perfect fusion between past and present sounds.
When it comes to Bklava's music, it's immediately obvious that there's a wide range of influences that have been honed into a uniquely fresh sound. Tracks like "Under My Skin" and "Hot Shot" sway more towards the more relaxed side of things, adopting more of a house-y tinge than UKG. The vocals adapt more of a focal point, whilst heavenly synths and melodies bubble away in the background to make the second half of the EP essential bedroom listening.
With a monthly show on Rinse FM, we asked Bklava who some of her favourite Rinse residencies came from, and her answer made it perfectly easy to understand how she's reached her current sound. She divulged, "I used to always listen to Shadow Child’s show on Wednesdays and DJ Spoony’s show, too — I would listen to them religiously. Now, as well as them, there are a whole host of new shows that I adore: Mall Grab, Marcus Nasty, Six Figure Gang, Conducta, Smokey Bubblin B, Eliza Rose, Soundbwoy Killah, just to name a few."
As if releasing her debut EP wasn't enough, Bklava has released videos for "Back to Then" and "Thinkin' of You" over the summer. We asked Bklava what her music would look like visually, and these videos have it down to a tee; "It would definitely be a big burst of colour with psychedelic influence. Lots of colour and every aspect of my emotions and experiences are put into my music."
Between releasing EPs, making music videos, and her Rinse FM show, Bklava somehow manages to find time to dedicate to Spin Suga, the network that she helped to co-found. Spin Suga is a platform dedicated to promoting female and non-binary DJs, with the main aim being to close the gender gap. Bklava explains that she "set it up at the end of uni for my dissertation project. I was still new to the scene and at the time I didn’t see a lot of female representation. I wanted to create a platform to promote women and non-binary people of all levels in the music industry."
As well as big things lying ahead for Spin Suga, there are equally exciting events happening for Bklava in the coming months. From a new video to her first official remix, a show in the Czech Republic (COVID permitting) and a mix series coming out, one of the UK's fastest rising stars isn't showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon.