Throughout the past two decades, during which Glyn 'Bigga' Bush has been writing and producing his distinctive Afrobeat/dub/funk-electronic music, he's seen growth in many facets of his life. Not only is he older, wiser and more experienced as a musician, but he's also grown comfortable enough in his own skin that he feels ready to introduce us to his alter ego. More about her in a minute.
Bush's career started with the formation of Rockers Hi-Fi, the U.K.-based electronic dub/funk group he started with 'DJ Dick' Whittingham in the early '90s. Telling the story from his hotel room in New York City, Bush describes Hi-Fi as an educational experience.
'There was a compromise between [Whittingham] having an understanding of what worked on a dance floor and me trying to inject as much musicality into it as possible without it falling under the weight of the notes,' he explains. 'It was good for me to learn from a DJ. It was more of an apprenticeship.'
In 1999, Rockers Hi-Fi broke up and Bush started work on two new projects-Bigga Bush, stemming from 'post-house/post-electronic dub,' and Lightning Head, based on 'roots-dub party music.' Under each of the two monikers, he's released several full-length albums and a multitude of remixes-each with a distinct flavor.
Bush says his first Bigga Bush and Lightning Head releases were 'more about stumbling upon a sample that sounded cool and putting it up against another one.' Which, of course, is very similar to the way early house mixes were made. Over the years, though, his methodology changed.
'As time has gone on, I have tried to get more organic about what I do and not rely on samples so much,' he says. The move may be artistic, but at least part of his motivation is practical.
'I couldn't get much of that stuff [on Lightning Head's first album] licensed,' he explains. 'My publishing company at the time was unwilling to put that music forward for use in ads [and in] the stuff you actually earn money from. I couldn't push my music around because there were too many samples in it. Even though [the samples] were pretty obscure, the publishing company wouldn't touch it. It was a hard lesson.'
For the upcoming release, 13 Faces of Lightning Head, due out this fall, Bush says his style evolved even further. He's been listening to Fela Kuti and other African funk masters for years, but he finally feels ready to do it on his own.
'It's taken me years to really assimilate that and do something different with it,' he explains. 'My ambition all along was to produce an album that sounded like a band playing in the studio. I think the new album is even more like that. There are live guitars, a live horn section-the beats all have a very live sound.'
And what about his alternate identity? While Bush has continued to evolve as an artist, he's also discovered a means of expression for another side of himself. In the last few years, he has started appearing behind the turntables as 'Nicole,' the cross-dressing record-wielding persona he assumes during various DJ gigs.
'I'm not trying to make any big statement [with Nicole] other than ‘Everyone is free to express themselves however they want,'' he says. 'This is the fun side of it. There isn't any agenda with it. Just as with my music, I like to surprise people. I can come up there in my miniskirt, and I can still rock the place!'
Bigga Bush spins with Rashi and Kid Natty at Bar Dynamite's 'Dub Dynamite' on June 18. 619-295-8743.
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