When Grove was growing up, their mum would always encourage them to be courageous as they navigated through life. “She’d say, ‘Be bold,’” recalls Grove. “‘Whatever you do, just be bold with it.’”
The Bristol-based producer, vocalist and DJ channels this philosophy into their music, which often compounds the personal and political with an explorative, club-centric approach. “If you chuck dancehall, punk, pop and jungle into a blender, whisk it up, pop it in your glass – that’s a bit of me,” Grove offers gleefully. This is best exemplified in their recent debut EP, Queer + Black, where brooding bass, chopped-up vocals and dark, hypnotic rhythms coalesce into a sound that feels constantly in flux. The project also provides insight into Grove, the individual: proudly Black and queer, and always engaged with the dance community around them.
When making music, Grove’s creative process is heavily inspired by how people move to their tunes. In order to gauge genuine reactions, they often play early, unreleased versions of their tracks to audiences, taking note of how the rhythm and flow makes bodies dance. This desire to create music that elicits a physical response stems from their time spent in a heavy rock band back when they were growing up in Cheltenham. At rock shows, you’re bound to see “cathartic movement” explains Grove. “People throw themselves against each other and are really physically involved – not in a choreographed way, but in an almost primal kind of way, getting emotions out and letting the body go.”
These moments of interaction on the dancefloor allow Grove to connect with their community. Tellingly, when speaking about their music, they are quick to emphasise the importance of this representation and understanding, explaining that Black + Queer’s opening track, Sticky, is a “unifying dancehall-infused rave tune for queer, femme people of colour”, created as an ode to Pxssy Palace, one of London’s most renowned QTIPOC-centred nights.
Closer to home, they hold collectives like Kiki Bristol – an organisation providing safe space events for the West Country’s queer partygoers – in high regard. “It’s a priority to integrate myself within the queer and Black infrastructure that’s already in Bristol,” they say, their voice lighting up with excitement. Harnessing this enthusiasm, they’ve already starred in a Kiki Bristol video campaign in support of queer Black people, as well as regularly showcasing producers of colour on their Noods Radio residency, DRIPDRIP.
It’s this clear vision, imbued with intention and a sense of community, that makes Grove’s music so captivating. That sage advice from their mum all those years ago is clearly standing Grove in good stead.
Sounds like: A politically-charged mash-up of dancehall and punk
Soundtrack for: Practising your best whine
Our favourite tune: Sticky
File next to: Shygirl, Tygapaw
Find them: soundcloud.com/theyisgrove
Grove plays Body Movements Festival on 9 October