As I was stood by the stage at Mic Check’s second musical showcase of Manchester’s most promising up and coming singers, MC’s and rappers taking place at the sand bar, on Saturday 26th November I was temporarily dazzled by the glisten and glare I spied emerging from the dimness surrounding us created by non-other than Manchester’s talented R&B collective Blvck diamond consisting of members Kay Angz (producer, singer, songwriter and engineer), JNR – (Singer/Songwriter), GH05T (Producer Piano/Keys player), Shinaye (Singer/Songwriter), OffKee – (Rapper/MC), Romayne Erin (Close Friend of the group and intermittent guitarist) and missing member on the night due to illness Shaquille – (Singer).
As their note perfect syrup drizzled sound serenaded the crowd and rendered me and my friend entranced by the tendrils of vocal silk drifting towards us from the stage, I couldn’t wait to have a chat (providing they had voices left after their soulful set) with this new Northern R&B collective shining bright in Manchester’s musical crown.
UK RnB, Cammy: Hi guys great set from you just then, so smooth! How many members are in the group?
Blvck Diamond, Kay Angz: Well there’s 6 here right now but there’s usually 7 of us. I’m looking for another female vocalist (Get at him on the twitter link below ladies) and I’m also looking for a producer. I produce the music for the group, I also write, play the keys and record everyone else’s vocals and mix and master too.
Cammy: Wow talk about multi-tasking. So was it you who brought everyone else together?
Blvck Diamond, K.A: Well I own a studio with my business partner and because I did music anyway I had the idea to form a collective. We have an in house set up where we produce music for the artists who come in; the beat is already there for the artists so that they don’t have to look elsewhere.
Cammy: So what are your goals as a collective?
Blvck Diamond, K.A: Because I have the studio with my business partner and we have our collective we are here to build and help each other out as a group of artists. Long term though we’re trying to build our record label. The standard of music we’re trying to put out is so that when people hear it, it feels complete and like it’s gonna go places and be big.
Cammy: What do you hope to achieve within the next 5 years?
Blvck Diamond, K.A: Well 5 years is a very long time away, but I can tell you that by next year (2017) I hope to be in the position where we are nominated for a MOBO award in the best newcomer category. That’s not to say we couldn’t receive nominations in other categories, because the calibre of music we’re making is of such a high standard.
Cammy: I’ll be celebrating right along with you! What do you have in your back catalogue as far as EP’s, mixtapes and albums go and what is the next project you are working on?
Blvck Diamond, K.A: My album is ready to be released; there’s just some mixing and mastering to be done, but it’s coming soon.
Cammy: I’ll look forward to it. Since Bugzy Malone reminded everyone just where Manny is on the map, do you feel like his recognition has opened doors for you as Manchester artists?
Blvck Diamond, K.A: Well this is the first time we have performed as a collective believe it or not. (I couldn’t) All of us have done a lot of gigs individually but we had never performed as a group. Bugzy has opened doors but we can’t expect him to carry everyone through because if he hasn’t come up with some people it’s not up to him to bring people in he doesn’t know. I like Bugzy, I like the way he writes and he’s got his own little style. I think if you know someone it helps a lot, sometimes it can be frustrating that some platforms want to remain ignorant to unknown artists it helps a lot if you know someone who knows someone who can give you support and bring you through. If you’re not from London it is harder to gain recognition but it’s not impossible.
Cammy: I understand, I see that dynamic play out a lot. What would you say the biggest challenges are for the Manchester music scene?
Blvck Diamond, K.A: You know what it is that’s lacking? Unity. I notice that Londoners show a lot of love for their own artists. Manchester supports their artists but it’s not fully there yet and there’s still that feeling of separation. It needs to get to the point where we come together and rep. our city because this is where we were born and raised.
Cammy: I totally agree with you but how do you think that will come about?
Blvck Diamond, K.A: Good music, just good music. The kind of music where you hear it and you can’t deny it’s good and you’re like – that is a big track.
Cammy: So we’re going to turn our attention to you, the only female of blvck diamond.
Blvck Diamond, Shinaye: I am the only female member right now but there will be another female member joining soon. I really like working with the group it’s a lot of fun, it’s really good. (smiles sweetly showing off the deepest of dimples – Yes I’m jealous!)
Cammy: Did the group approach you to join them or did you go to them?
Blvck Diamond, Shinaye: I knew Kay from a while back and then I just started singing with them, and it went from there really.
Cammy: So do you write your own lyrics and present them to the group? or does Kay or one of the other members give you your lyrics?
Blvck Diamond, Shinaye: It’s a bit of both really, I would say it’s a joint effort.
Cammy: What are you hoping for in the future and is it with the collective or as a soloist?
Blvck Diamond, Shinaye: I’m always going to support the group and when the new vocalist comes in, it will be another voice to the group and we’ll continue to work together and grow.
Cammy: I like that the unity is strong within the group if not in Manny yet! What other genres of music do you do apart from RnB? Do you do Rap and Grime also?
Blvck Diamond, Kay Angz: We do everything! We’re very alternative, we do RnB but we also do rap and house music. Oh we’ve got some old skool West coast flavour that we made too.
Cammy: I like the fact you are not restricting yourselves to one genre. Who would you like to work with in the future?
Blvck Diamond, K.A: Bobii Lewis is an artist I’d love to work with, he’s from London. It would be good to work with an artist called KZ. I appreciate good music and it would be great to have a studio session with them just jammin together. Wretch 32 is a great artist, the way he tells stories and his lyrics are on point.
Cammy: ‘Growing over life’ (by Wretch 32) is such a big album, he’s a great lyricist. Describe your creative process?
Blvck Diamond, K.A: We like to get in the studio and have a jammin session, producers, singers – everyone. The music flows more naturally when there is a vibe and everyone is together. I think it’s an organic way to tap into creative ideas.
Cammy: So many people do the copy and paste, send a track over email method, it takes away from the flow of creativity I find. Lastly I’d like to know who your musical influences are?
Blvck Diamond, Shinaye: I like music with a lot of soul, so for me it would be people like Amy Winehouse. I really like Lauryn Hill I feel like her music always has a message to it and I feel like anything that I make I want it to be meaningful. I want people to listen to it and think wow I can relate to that or I really like this. Erykah Badu is also another artist I admire because she’s so soulful. Jazmine Sullivan is someone else I listened to a lot, I used to listen to her and the way she did her runs on a song and I’d practice them and now I can do that myself.
Kay Angz: My musical influences come from different genres and I try and put them into my productions. I like a nice melody so I pay close attention to that. I like different styles of music. From the new school artists I like Bryson Tiller, Tory Lanez, Drake and Chris Brown. Old school artists it would be Luther Vandross, Freddie Jackson and Smokey Robinson. I like to make something that’s relative and also try and tell a story people will enjoy 5 years down the line; it’s about making timeless music.
Cammy: Speaking of timeless music; this year for the first time in its history, two Grime artists were nominated for the ‘Mercury prize’ award. Kano was nominated for ‘Made in the Manor’ and Skepta for ‘Konnichiwa.’ Many have expressed surprise Kano didn’t win as his album is considered a timeless body of work. What are your thoughts on that?
Blvck Diamond, Kay Angz: Personally I think whoever did the most work deserved to win it. I know they’re both on their grind and doing their thing but it’s who puts in the energy and work. Skepta has been killin’ it this year (2016) over here and in the states; he’s getting that love out there, he’s nice.
I snuck an extra question in there! (kay and Shinaye laugh and nod.) Thank you for speaking to me and I can’t wait to see what you guys come with next! (We all swap social medias and enjoy the rest of Mic Checks super shelly Saturday!)
If you would like to contact Blvck Diamond hit them up on their social medias below:
Listen to Blvck diamond at: