Arts & Entertainment
5 min

Rugged jungleist

The many facets of Brigee K

STORMING THE STAGE. Queer hip-hop artist Brigee K. Credit: Matthew Lester Photo

Vancouver’s female hip-hop scene is growing fast and is gaining more and more exposure-shining a light on all the diverse women involved and all their different artistic facets. This hot scene is very queer and queer-friendly and thrives at clubs like Lick and Celebrities, with artists like Stink Mitt, Scream Club and the amazing trailblazer, Peaches. Another star player right here in the Lower Mainland is our very own and very talented Brigee K-a queer woman with one hell of a voice stirring things up and rockin’ the mic!

Brigee has become an underground household name within Vancity and her talent is undeniable. She has worked many stages and continues to explore different avenues and gain a solid reputation as a strong, intelligent artist contributing to Vancouver’s new underground cultures. As she continues to develop her craft and create new music and collaborations, Miss Thang finds the time to have a mini-chatfest in the heart of the Davie Village.

Michael Venus: So what in the hell is going on?

Brigee K: Well, I’m Brigee K and I am a female MC and vocalist. I am kind of at a point now where I am taking two directions in my career. The first being the underground hip-hop route where it’s purely my lyrics, my vision. I am also doing a kind of a cover tune/Motown thing. So, I am trying to hit two different demographics of people. I am just basically trying to get where I need to be and whichever one gets me in the door first, that’s fine. I feel doing strictly soul music for an older crowd has nothing to do with me selling out to hip-hop or anything because there are so many pages, chapters and versions of Brigee K, and there are lots of skills that I have.

MV: Yeah, hello! Why pigeonhole yourself? Forget it!

BK: Yeah, exactly! I was a total daydreamer for a long time. Something I always say is: ‘vision without action is a daydream.’ And then I noticed that action without vision is a nightmare! So you really need to find that middle ground. I just want to be as versatile as humanly possible and I am not in a rush.

It’s like building a house: you have to have a foundation because I ain’t gonna crumble. I want to do this when I’m 50 and I don’t want to be known for just one thing. The more I can do, the more I can evolve-and music is forever changing. You never lose your old skills; you just improve with what you have and I never want to freeze and miss out on good things that are happening. So, that’s what I’ve been doing [with a long-winded laugh]!

MV: So what’s all the Motown stuff about? It sounds great!

BK: I did an upper-class charity for The Pot Luck CafĂ© Society, where they raised money for people in need, and I sang some Gladys Knight covers which were super awesome. Success, in my opinion, is determined on how I perceive myself and how others perceive me-and when I’m given the opportunity in my own city and my own community to take my skills, my love and my passion and put it towards helping people less fortunate than me…then I am successful!

That is success: it’s not getting a big record deal or starting up my own record label. Success is giving back. Everything else seems to fall into place. Lots of people feel it’s luck, which it’s not. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity, and right now I am preparing. I seriously believe that every day when we walk down the street, opportunity crosses our path so many times but we are only aware of it when we are prepared. So when people ask, ‘How do you get into music?’ I just say, ‘Do it, work on your skills, prepare yourself and it will come to you!’

MV: Okay, on that note, how did you prepare to get to where you are?

BK: I’m from Thunder Bay (Ontario), and for me Thunder Bay was some serious lock-down, and I didn’t grow up around a lot of music and didn’t have a lot of musical opportunity.

Slowly, electronic music started to creep into the forest where I lived and make its way to Thunder Bay, and then I heard jungle and was like, ‘Okay, 180 beats per second!!!’

For the first time, I could flow over something because back then I was wanting to be as fast as I could. I then started making jungle tapes and handing them out to people who thought jungle was a band. I didn’t have exposure to any other jungle MCs so all my skills were based on all my own influences growing up.

Over time, I just had to get out-obviously-and I went to Ottawa and then on to Montreal where I continued being a jungle MC. Then, I made my way out here. In the jungle scene you have to be somewhat aggressive, so when I came out here and started meeting people, I was very up-front and was what I call myself a ‘rough and rugged’ jungleist.

Back east, people were very challenging and in your face, which you really feed off and it gets you going with tons of adrenaline. When I came out here, things were so different. Nobody was dancing and everyone was just sitting slouched in their chairs bobbing their heads. I then knew what everyone meant when they talked about the West Coast [giggles]. I found it hard to freestyle and let things come off the top of my head because no one here was really challenging me. Everybody was kind just sitting there, bobbing their heads. I was almost was too aggressive for the crowds.

Then I started just storming the stages every time I would see another female MC. I remember seeing Lady Precise and Kia Kadiri for the first time at Shine and telling them they had to let me on the mic. And for some reason they did, and that is how it all kind of happened.

And then I did Sisterhood. Really quickly, I started meeting tons of really awesome women and found out that the hip-hop scene they were involved in was really conscious and I was really comfortable with that and making the transition into hip-hop. It wasn’t all about finding the bass-line and riding it out-we could actually say something.

I am now currently working on a bunch of great stuff and a new album. Once you throw yourself into it, you really do get motivated by the music. The first initial step was hard to just indulge, but now that I am so much into it, it’s flowing. It gets me through the day and I’m feeling good.

MV: What’s your take on how to deal with any sort of discrimination in the industry?

BK: Whatever people do-including me-in their free time is cool and up to them. What’s important to me is being an entertainer and getting up on stage on the microphone. And whoever wants to listen, listens.

MV: What does the future near and far hold for you?

BK: Cash, money and a penthouse! No, just kidding!

MV: Kinda kidding?

BK: A question mark really. I know music will be my future-that’s an absolute guarantee. I just don’t know exactly which route will get me there sooner. I don’t know or care!