The London-based artist is channeling tales of youthful angst through bedroom pop.
On the Fringe will attempt to tell stories of artists who otherwise would not receive mainstream media’s attention due to the absence of representation or the necessary publicity. While some people may not be as keen on discovery as some of us, it is essential to chronicle the rise of emerging talents that can create timeless records. Artists covered in the series will be at differing stages in their journeys, but they will all be emerging acts somehow — either unto larger audiences or more niche ones.
21-year-old Victory Obot, known more commonly as 808Vic, is a producer and singer from Nigeria (by way of London, UK). Known professionally as 808vic, he began pursuing music in 2016 as a producer, with his first real outlet being Soundcloud. Moving to London at 16 for his Bachelor’s degree, he quickly found an outlet in making beats on LMMS (formerly Linux Multimedia Studio).
Growing tired of having his beats sat on, he began putting his vocals on records in 2018. The unintended inspiration of a crush led to him recording a song and uploading it to SoundCloud. With no real experience mixing vocals until he started to record his, this was key to his evolution following his first project, Floppy Files. According to him, songwriting has been the most significant addition to his skill-set.
Listeners have described his music as a lot of things. From bedroom pop to alt R&B. “I only accept bedroom pop because I started making beats and recording in my own room in uni,” he clarifies.
He believes his musical background set the tone for his journey. His family was heavily involved in the church choir growing up. “My mum was a choir head; my uncle played instruments in church too,” he reveals. “So I’ve always been around music. Like listening to music while doing chores with your family. Certain attributes just become more prevalent.”
Some of his earliest collaborative efforts involved sending beats to fledgling artists over the internet. One of such collaborators was rapper Mafeni. They ended up working together on his debut project, Enjoy. Before that, he had only played his beats for his older brother, Burgundy, who also rapped. Burgundy would go on to appear on his second tape, Wav’s for the Summer. He describes these as some of the most validating moments he has experienced musically — having people he respected reciprocate the respect he showed their work.
His creative process usually begins with fleshing his beats out first: he picks a chord or tune and goes from there until a composition emerges. Then he picks a theme to write around until the words are adequate.
While describing his ideal audience, he alludes to the fact that his music is reflective; hence, his listeners are too. “I would say I make music for introspective kids, people who are in their feelings a lot. I try to make it as raw as possible. People who just like relaxed music generally and enjoy easy listening,” he explains. Anyone who listens to some of Nigeria’s more traditional genres knows that the music often isn’t in the vein described above — in fact, it is quite the opposite. Pensive thoughts and emotional vulnerability are not subject matter we are big on; hence the importance of creating this dichotomy for a younger generation cannot be underestimated.
Multidisciplinary artist, Ria of Mars, has been responsible for the recent creative direction his art has taken – a crucial development that could be responsible for his uptick in recent times. “Before I met her, I was doing most of my art direction and work myself," Vic explains. "Scumboy did the covers for Floppy Files and Wav’s. Before Ria, I wasn’t as intentional with that, but recently she’s been very a big part of my whole thing.” His partner (as well as collaborator), Ria has provided the visual elements for his most recent singles, “Desolé” and “Overstayed”.
The impact the singles have had in the short time since release has been a step up from the attention Vic has been accustomed to so far. With placements on Spotify’s "Fresh Finds" and BBC1Xtra in the last few weeks, it appears all the hard work is finally starting to create some buzz around the artist and his faction of frequent collaborators.
“It’s really sick. We [Ria and I] had plans for 2021, a full structure,” Vic excitedly gushes. “One of the goals was for this to happen, but I did not expect either of these songs to do as well. It’s really sick that the song with Kiyo [“Overstayed”] is doing so well too. We got on BBC 1 Xtra. I really hope the attention translates for the rest of the people in this space.”
We also discussed the impact he hopes he can have on the industry here and some of the things we could be doing better as a community. “Some of us have gotten looks from African publications, but that has not really translated into more engagement. Nigeria isn’t exactly giving us looks right now,” he says, highlighting the fact that regardless of the quality of music, listeners are more inclined to stick to familiar names to the detriment of artists attempting to broaden the soundscape. “Kiyo dropped an amazing album last year. Icy dropped some good songs last year. Sir Bastien is doing a lot as far as production and music in general. There is a whole subculture of Nigerian kids making next-level stuff. People just need to tap in.”
With a debut album in the works and a handful of singles out, there might never be a better time to tune in to Vic’s music than now.