Amid an ever-growing electronic dance music market, there are bound to be black sheep among the flock. Fearlessly standing out in a crowded pool of producers and DJs, Richie Buckley—better known as bass-loving producer Blvk Sheep—has come a long way in his fast-rising career. He got his first big break when he won a remix competition for “Aftershock” from NGHTMRE and Boombox Cartel. He’s since released his unparalleled debut EP, Mind, as well as a number of trappy treats, including the 808-heavy “Oath” with Tynvn. Buckley continues to defy the conventional confines within genres, garnering him attention from industry heavyweights such as Alison Wonderland.
Blvk Sheep is currently touring across the streets of North America with UZ’s Quality Goods Records crew, who’s taking over the Belasco Theater in Downtown Los Angeles Saturday, May 6, for a special label showcase presented by Bassrush. Ahead of the show, Blvk Sheep dropped an exclusive mix to get you amped up for a wild night of headbanging goodness. We also chatted with the black sheep himself about his neck-snapping music and his mission to stand out in a saturated industry.
What was the creative inspiration behind your debut EP?
The Mind EP was something I wrote during a weird time in my life. I was going through a lot, and those things were starting to translate more into the music and my creative vision. I thought, “Let me sit back and put all this emotion into music,” and that’s what came out of me. Working with Mona Moua, Tima Dee, and Giant Spirit for those songs was amazing, and without them, the EP wouldn’t have been the same, especially from a songwriting perspective. These were the first songs I’ve written and released featuring original lyrics and songwriting, and I hope these songs continue to resonate with people.
In the last six months, you’ve released two tracks via UZ’s label, Quality Goods Records, and now you’re supporting the imprint on tour. What about this collective resonates with you?
Quality Goods Records is a family full of real-deal people who actually care about everybody and show true faith in their cause and in each other. On a creative level, everyone is super innovative and unafraid to push themselves outside their comfort zones, so the energy is consistently fresh and [inspiring]. Being on tour with them right now is amazing, and it’s so much fun to see everyone go out there and kill it. I’m super happy to be working with them, and I’ve got a feeling you’re going to see us continue working together on new projects in the near future. Big shout-out to UZ and the QGR team for being the realest in the game.
You’re throwing your monthly Visions parties in New York City. What’s the story behind Visions?
Visions was an idea that started among friends after a long talk about how we were all fed up with the NYC scene. Bookings in New York have become so oversaturated with the same names over and over, and if you don’t have an “in” as an up-and-comer, you’re not getting any play. With Visions, we are breaking that pattern by curating shows featuring producers we would want to see and who we feel are deserving of the spotlight. Visions is a monthly showcase in Brooklyn, and it has been working out very well so far. We have a ton of shows planned, which we are excited to announce in the next few weeks.
Big money getting involved has taken away from the culture of the scene and [has affected its greatness] at the start.
Within the last couple of years, we’ve seen an increased consolidation between electronic music and pop music. How do you see this shift affecting your sound and vision, if at all?
In general, I think this shift is awesome. Now, due to the mass appeal of this music—which is in part [due to] the greater focus on original songwriting—people like my parents can understand the music a little bit more. In general, it brings more people into the fold. I think the Chainsmokers really did something awesome for the industry in helping bring this music to the masses. On the opposite side of things, sadly it has also resulted in tons of people who are trying to ride the wave and treat it like a cash grab. To an extent, big money getting involved has taken away from the culture of the scene and [has affected its greatness] at the start.
Blvk Sheep, as a name and as a brand, is all about standing out. How do you aim to stand out amid an ever-growing electronic dance music market in the US?
For me, it’s all about just remaining focused and staying true to who I am as a person. People nowadays get some hype and lose their heads. I find it really important to stay grounded and put blinders on, so the only person I am comparing myself to is myself. Success is a measure of your own achievement. I plan on doing exactly what I’ve done my whole life: aim for self-improvement and happiness, and be myself no matter what people think of me. I am me, my brand is me, and my music is me. If you don’t like me, then I don’t care, because I’m just going to keep doing me—and that’s all there is to it.
A black sheep is someone who goes against the current. With that in mind, have you ever received a piece of advice regarding your career that was too “out there” to consider pursuing?
Over the years, [others have told me] that some of my music is “too edgy” or that the sound “isn’t going to be popular.” Even if that is true in some ways, I can totally accept that.
Standing out is unconventional by nature, so to me, being the black sheep is something I embrace. This mindset is why I want to stand for all those kids who were put down and told they would never amount to anything, or were called slackers because they had other interests and didn’t want to focus on what people or society tells them they should.
If I could give people one word of advice, it would be to aspire to do what makes you happy. People may disagree, but that’s okay. You may fail along the way, but as long as you brush it off and keep going, you will see the success you want and deserve at the end of the day.