Blvck Hippie’s Josh Shaw Is Looking To Be More Than Just The ‘Weird Black Kid’ Of Indie Rock
Josh Shaw has always been a weird black kid trying to find a place where he belongs. He’s on his way to make the indie rock world that place with his band Blvck Hippie. As a black indie artist, Shaw has struggled to feel like he belongs in a genre that is predominantly white. It’s not easy when the bands you play with, the audience in front of you, and the artists influencing your sound are all white. That feeling of belonging is what pushes Shaw to keep doing what he’s doing because, as he puts it, “if I keep fighting through the layers of crap that come with being a Black indie artist then maybe in 10 years there’ll be a group of black kids starting an indie band, and it’ll be super easy for them.”
Blvck Hippie’s newest video single “Bunkbed” is a dreamy, youthful, haze of an effort, accentuated by colorful scenes of fleeting fun and intimate moments. It’s as crushingly honest and stark as it is energetic and frenetic, ultimately ending up showcasing an air of loneliness from it’s start to the video’s end.
“The Bunkbed music video is a collab between me and my older brother, Lawrence Shaw, who does freelance film in Memphis. Our aim was to show the slow cyclical, destruction of personal relationships by ending in the same loneliness the video began with. The video is an intimate look at how a self-destructive personality can ultimately drive away those who we strived so desperately to hold close. The end of the video is a rewind back to the start, to show a never ending cycle of love and self sabotage.”
“I wrote Bunkbed in early 2020 after getting out of a year long song writing funk. My main inspiration for the song is the feeling of self-inflicted loneliness. The lyrics reference a bunk bed, something that splits up the intimacy of sleeping in a bed with someone you love. Thus intentionally separating yourself from the people closest to you because you feel like you have to.”
“Blvck Hippie” is Shaw’s childhood nickname, coined by his mom. Classically trained in piano, Shaw didn’t pick up a guitar until his junior year of college when he started to write and record Lo-Fi music out of his dorm room. Post-college, Shaw worked on solo projects under St. John until 2018 when he met current Blvck Hippie drummer, Casey Rittinger — the band’s sound took a different direction as the duo penned new music under the name Blvck Hippie. Blvck Hippie’s current lineup is composed of Lead Guitarist and Vocalist Josh Shaw, Casey Rittinger on Drums, Mattie Turner on Rhythm Guitar, and Anna Welden on bass.
Blvck Hippie is recommended if “you’re a fan of The Strokes but like your songs a little more moody” (From The Strait). Overdriven shimmery guitars, jazz-inspired bass, and tight, polyrhythmic drums come together to create an unexpectedly delightful “VHS” inspired rock. This pairs with Shaw’s dark, brooding lyrics, drawing on themes of escapism, loneliness, and grief to create the Sad Boy Indie Rock songs of your dreams. Shaw credits Kanye West and Kid Cudi for inspiring him as a Black artist, pushing him to always make something different.
“Reverb and distortion envelop the guitar and vocals (fittingly the song was recorded at Memphis’ famed Sun Studios), with frontman Josh Shaw’s voice rising from a croon to a scream over the song’s explosive bridge. It’s raw and jagged in all of the ways indie rock should be.“Afropunk
“Shaw shows off his impressive lyrically skill, machinating on dualities and dichotomies.“The Wild Honey Pie
“Making thirsty, overdriven rock music, Blvck Hippie are an emerging force reminiscent of The Strokes and The Black Keys, but with their own spirited and dynamic energy. One listen to Josh Shaw’s fierce chorus outpouring asserts this band’s compelling artistry.“Atwood Mag