WXTJ Writes! by Isabel Xiao: “Interview with Davy HBF”
Blending afrobeats with elements of modern rap and hip-hop, Davy HBF is excited to tell his story and share his music with the world. With the release of his recent EP, “Piece of Mind,” WXTJ writer Isabel Xiao interviewed the artist to gain some insight into his musical inspirations and process.
Portions of this story have been edited and condensed for clarity.
So tell me a little bit about yourself—how you got into music and, you know, your origin story in general.
I go by the name of Davy HBF. I was born in Nigeria, and I moved to America when I was nine years old. I’ve always been around music since I was little. My mom tells me stories about when I was younger. She would put the CD in to play a band called Westlife in the morning before I went to school. And when it was time to go to school, I would be so excited about the music and listening to music that I wouldn’t want to go. I would start crying: “Mom, no, I don’t want to go to school. I want to stay home and listen to music.” My mom got so upset that she broke the CD, because she wanted me to go to school. So yes, since I was little, I always was into music and making afrobeats because I’m Nigerian. And I want to bring my roots and my culture to the forefront. That’s what I’ve tried to do with my music.
I love that. Is that the type of music you grew up with?
Yeah, I grew up listening to afrobeats, hip hop, R&B, all types of stuff. But when I was in Nigeria, we had cable, so we’d watch all the MTV stuff. Everything I am is kind of a mixture of all that, but specifically, afrobeats is what I grew up with.
And so how would you describe the music that you make?
I would say my sound is like a conscious sound. I’m making music that is meant to make people dance and move. At the same time, I make sure to put a message behind everything I do and say. Even if it’s something that makes you move around, I like to have a message behind it that makes you do that. These days, I’m giving you more vocals. I’m giving you the best sound. I’m giving you something that you want to listen to in the morning and pop your headphones in. That’s what I like to do.
What made you want to produce music? Was there a catalyst?
Really, I started to make music because I’ve always been into art. But I started out as a clothing designer. I think the reason why I started with clothing, and not music, was because I used it as an excuse. I knew I wanted to do music so badly. It was always in me. But I was too shy, and I would tell myself I couldn’t do it. So finally, I summoned the courage to pursue what I really wanted to do. Professionally, I started making music in the summer of 2021. And since then, I’ve been in the studio crafting my sound each and every day. I fell in love with it so much. I don’t even think I’m going back.
You mentioned your focus on lyrics, so I wanted to ask, what was your songwriting process? What inspires your lyrics?
For me, what inspires my lyrics is the environment around me—and life in general. I’m able to tell stories about other people’s stories. But for the most part, most of my songs really come from what I’m feeling inside, or how I’m feeling that day. I record so much. I’m recording almost every day. So it gets to the point where I’m talking about what’s going on in my life. Sometimes I start writing these songs, right? Then, I go to the studio and finish it in the studio, as I record. When I record music, I get that groove with the beat, and speak my mind. My process is mixed with writing and freestyle. I don’t really do one, I’m always doing both.
Davy HBF next to the cover art for “Piece of Mind.” Photo courtesy of MDK.
So you’ve recently released an EP! Can you give us a walkthrough?
“Piece of Mind” is the name of the EP, and it’s actually a project I did with a team. I have a group of friends, and we all make music. We’re a creative collective. It’s me, Jay HBF, Apollo HBF, Zah Khail, and we have a new addition to the team—his name is Swxndle. We decided to make this EP, and it would be a four-song EP, with each of us introducing our sound to the world. So my sound—afrobeats, my culture, my roots—I wanted to bring it into the world.
The first song is titled “Story.” It’s me introducing the world to my sounds, and my story. Then the rest of the EP is me giving people things to dance and move to. I feel like a lot of music these days is so violent. By the time you listen to that music in the morning, it can corrupt your mind. So my music is meant to challenge that. It’s meant to make you move, make you dance, make you think. When I’m recording, I’m dancing too. So when you listen to the music, I want you to move your body, but not only that—I also want you to hear a message. I’m always talking about what’s going on in the world, what’s going on in my mind, and what’s going on on grounds.
It’s four songs. 11 minutes. All different vibes, different energy, giving the world a taste of my vibe, and what’s to come.
Are you working on anything else right now?
I’m always working, really. Like, music is honestly my full-time job. Even as a student, music is what I do. I live for music. I love music so much. The longest I go without recording is probably like a week or two. Then I’m right back in the studio. I have a mic at my crib, and I also come to the studio to record sometimes. So I’m always recording. And I’m working on new stuff right now. Actually, I haven’t announced this anywhere yet, but the new project I’m working on is called “Edo Boy Tendencies.” I’m from Edo State in Nigeria, so I’m telling the world about what it means to be an Edo boy.
I have lots of songs that I’ve recorded, and I’m still recording more. I’m constantly trying to find new inspiration and find a new sound. Because you can always get better. I look at the first songs I made when I started recording in 2021, to now. I was up at five A.M. today recording. The song is so beautiful, so different. I have art that I haven’t shared with the world yet, but I’m excited to share very soon.
I also wanted to ask, what does HBF stand for?
Okay, so HBF is Hundred Band Family. It was created by my friend, Jay HBF, and he wanted to create something for creatives to come together as a collective. Right now, it’s mostly artists, musicians, and vocalists. But in the future, I’m sure he plans on adding some producers, engineers… we’re really a group coming together out of New York. And it’s funny, because we all knew each other since elementary school. We’ve literally gotten into fist fights playing football together, and done everything under the sun together. We know each other as friends. Where we’re from, it’s very different, in the sense that these kinds of things aren’t promoted. So, to see us change the path that we’re on and do music, something creative. And also encourage the people—to know that we can do something different and better ourselves. That’s what we plan on doing together.
What has been the biggest highlight of your musical journey so far?
The way I’m able to really express myself, and the fact that people are able to digest my music and actually be receptive towards it. A lot of people make music, but not everybody can get people to be receptive to their music. I feel blessed. I’m always grateful for the people who are actually receptive when they listen. I remember when I had first dropped my EP, a group of my friends came up to me at a party, like, “Oh my god, I love your music! I love the sound.” And they were literally telling me the lines that they liked and what they liked about it. That was when I dropped “Piece of Mind.”
I know that I’m still growing. I only have four songs out on the EP, and some other songs on the tape that my friends and I dropped together, called “Enter the Vault.” I’ve seen the impact that four songs have had, but I can only imagine what it will be like when I continue to grow, and have more and more music out for the world.
In terms of music, what are your future goals?
I don’t really like to plan the future out too much. I like to live life. But at the same time, I really will get better at music, continue to grow my music and my audience. I want more people to listen. And to do that, I will do more performances, because the performance element is really fun. When I’m performing, I’m smiling too, because it feels so good. I will continue to grow, reach the next stages, become a XXL freshman, and win some Grammys. I will get there. I’ve put myself in a position to reach high goals, so I’m going to continue to be the best version of myself, and let my music and my sound speak for me.
By Isabel Xiao, co-host of “baked beats” on Fridays from 10pm to 12am.
WXTJ Writes! is brought to you by a team of writers—our mission is to make our website come alive by diving even deeper into some of our favorite music and music culture. Read special stories told by radio-loving students every other week, here on wxtj.fm/articles.