If you’re looking for bold hip-hop in the Ottawa music scene rising star Brandon Owen is where it’s at. Originally from Nova Scotia, Bowen VOK has a growing following in the east coast, from his town of Halifax to P.E.I, Newfoundland and New Brunswick. To him, his next move was obviously to the Capital. If you haven’t had a chance to listen, be sure to check out his latest single Swerve. The single was a personal success, generating over 3,500 views in the first day. When he’s not in the studio or advocating his opinions VOK can also be found helping his best friend and music partner Duppy market his clothing line.
Stay on the lookout for new work from Bowen VOK including some inter-lingual music mixing Arabic and English creating a truly unique rhythm.
Faces Magazine: What was life like for you, having grown up in Nova Scotia and who were some of the key influencers of your passion for hip-hop music?
Bowen Vok: Most people would expect me to say Classified or something like that but you know, old school stuff like Buck 65 is what I love. Rap music has always been big on the East Coast, especially in Halifax. Everyone I knew was always into the underground hip-hop. Seeing guys like Classified make it out of Nova Scotia was definitely an influence for me to try and do this professionally.
Tell us a little bit about why you chose to come to Ottawa for hip-hop music? Why did you think Ottawa would be the best fit?
Honestly, I had done everything I could’ve done in Nova Scotia, as far as playing music. I’ve played some big shows and I’ve got my following there so I figured it was time to brand out to a new market. I’ve also got a good network of friends in Ottawa, a few buddies who do promotions and stuff like that.
Having just recently moved to Ottawa, what have your first impressions of the city and what are some of your favourite places to hang out at in the city?
I’ve been here for about 3 and-a-half months now. When I first came here, it was cool to see the Parliament buildings, that was neat to see the history of Canada. I also discovered that there were a lot of cool dispensaries around town, and I like those. I actually got a job at one of them, I was working at Cannabis Culture downtown on Bank Street. We’ve been raided before, we just recently got raided and I was arrested there too (laughs). That was quite the event for sure.
Tell us a little bit about one of your latest singles, Swerve, what has the feedback been like for the most part?
The feedback has been phenomenal for Swerve. Within the first two days, we had about 3,500 views on Facebook, so we definitely are getting our numbers. I personally like to release on Facebook before anything because you can track your analytics much more closely on Facebook than on YouTube. Plus, in today’s society, people aren’t watching an entire music video, their attention span is about a minute and then they’re going to swap videos. When you post a video on Facebook, it’s already playing when they scroll to it, so they just have to push the volume button to hear it. Facebook helps make the video more accessible to fans and that works really well.
How did you and Duppy first connect out East and how much time/effort did it take to put together the music video for your new release, Swerve?
Duppy and I met in Halifax. He was going to school for events and promotion while I was going to school for music business, but there was a lot of crossover with events and shows. Just from our circle of friends, we met and got together almost instantly. We went to FMP Studios in Dartmith, that’s where a lot of East Coast bands will go to record their music. Once Duppy and I started making music together, that was it – it was game over. We started doing shows and opening for people like Wacka Flacka, Zeds Dead and to get our names out there on the East Coast. Once we had a good monopoly on Nova Scotia we branched out to P.E.I., then to Newfoundland, New Brunswick, plus a little bit into Ontario and Quebec.
As far as the music video, we got that together when I first got to Ottawa and we’re on track to do more over the next few years. He was working on his clothing line at the time, so I suggested writing about his clothing line and we showcased it in the music video, I think they did a really great job with it.
You’ve also just released a new clothing line here in Ottawa. Tell us a little bit about this and what made you want to launch your own clothing line?
The whole clothing line is Duppy’s. He started that, he designed that and he’s backing it financially. I’m sort of the liaison, helping with the marketing and things like that. With the clothing line, it was easy to get on board because I love the brand. I got involved because of my marketing and inventory experience. We try to get people involved through the music video. We had 600 pieces and we’re down to 200 pieces, with another 1,000 coming soon. It’s a tough industry, so we’ll see how it goes from here.
When you aren’t working on hip-hop or your clothing business, what sorts of things do you do with your spare time?
With my spare time, I like to think a lot. I like to spend a lot of time thinking, contemplating plans, I’m always in preparation mode. If I’m not doing music or extra-curricular activities, I’m trying to plan something else. Things like writing in general, skateboarding, video games, just normal stuff I guess.
In your opinion, what’s the hip-hop scene like here in Ottawa versus out East in Nova Scotia?
Honestly, it’s a lot more tough on the East Coast. There are a lot more artists, there are a lot more guys pushing CD’s, there are a lot more guys trying to do shows. I haven’t met “the” person in the hip-hop scene in Ottawa yet but I’m looking forward to meeting whoever it is. I had a show late November at Barrymore’s with Will Windex, he’s Canadian and he has a huge following. My friend Brandon owns Dynamite Tours, and they do most of the hip hop shows here in Ottawa so I hit up my buddy and told him about my stuff, and he put me on the show.
What’s next for Bowen Vok? Any works-in-progress that you’re focusing on at the moment?
Absolutely. I’m working on a new song with a guy from Lebanon named Habeet. We’ve been working on some cool inter-lingual music so it’s Aerobic and English. We’re trying different stuff, the kind of stuff where when people hear it, they’re really going to be turned on by it. A lot of the stuff out there is very similar, so we’re trying something different. He’s got a lot of people in Lebanon who’ve heard it, so we’ll see how it goes there and we’ll see if we can expand out there too.
What’s one of your songs that your most proud of to date and why is it so meaningful to you?
Swerve is one of my favourite songs right now, I loved how well the production came out, it was also the first song I did in Ottawa. If it came out great and I’m looking forward to improving even more on the next one.