Over the past decade Ross Harvey, also known as MC R-Vee, has been entrenched in the D&B scenes in Europe & Asia. While living in Hong Kong he was lucky enough to represent on the front line as drum and bass music was introduced to new crowds in far-flung cities all over China, performing alongside the likes of Makoto, Cyantific, Bryan Gee & many other big names that happened to be touring out there.
He’s now back in the UK and is setting his goals on a new career path, helping people in the music industry battle their demons & reach their full potential!
Firstly, how healthy is the drum and bass scene in Asia? Are there a lot of weekly events taking place?
While I wouldn’t say there are a lot of weekly events taking place, the scene is definitely healthy and growing over there.
Places such as Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Hong Kong have all held some pretty serious events over the last few years, with strong local line-ups as well as the international headliners.
For over 20 years there is one promoter who is still going strong and has been bringing artists to Asia to play at her events (big up Jane Siesta). Originally these nights might have attracted largely ex-pat crowds, but over the years more and more locals have been getting involved and experiencing the music and the unique vibes that a good DnB night brings.
In more recent years, Unchained have been raising the bar with their monthly nights at Oil Club in Shenzhen. These nights have contributed to a new boom in the drum and bass movement in China, which now sees events bubbling up in cities all across the country, which has been amazing to witness and be a part of
Any stand out artists we should be watching for? Makoto seems to be the poster boy for D&B in Asia, but I’m sure there’s many we’ve not heard about
Watch out for Radiax, the badboy from Beijing! His production is on point and his sound is refreshing and energetic. He has been building up a strong following in China and is starting to get noticed around the world after he had a track featured on Hospital Records Sick Music 2020 album
Another one to watch is a producer called Lovely, who is based in Hong Kong. He released his first EP last year on Guidance, Ulterior Motives label, which topped the Beatport new releases chart, and he’s just followed that up with the highly anticipated release of his latest EP ‘Better Late Than Never’.
You were performing with a lot of the drum and bass artists that came over there on tour, any sets to tell us about that were particularly memorable?
There were times when I had to pinch myself to check I wasn’t dreaming! I had the opportunity to tour and work with so many people I respect in the scene, and I’m very grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had. I did some memorable 4-5 hour sets with the likes of Goldie, Bryan Gee and London Elektricity, but in terms of sets where the vibe was so on point and my connection with the crowd and the DJ was just flowing on another level, that happened with Zinc, The Upbeats and Chris Inperspective.
Was there a big MC culture in D&B over there like there is in the UK?
No, sadly not. MC’s seemed to come and go, and I only came across a handful of MC’s who took the job seriously. There were also a few MC’s with a hip-hop or reggae background, who crossed over into drum and bass from time to time, which was cool.
The first time I toured China we were playing in a city called Kunming. I don’t think the crowd had ever been exposed to drum n bass before. People were sitting at tables watching us perform, and nobody was dancing, none of them seemed to know what to do
I remember looking at the DJ as if to say ‘Yo, I’m struggling over here’. Trying to MC to a venue full of people sitting down and playing cards is not easy! Anyway, at the end of the set we came off stage to a standing ovation, everyone wanted to get their pics taken with us and offer us drinks, saying how much they enjoyed the show. It was all very surreal.
Things have started to progress pretty quickly now, and I’m sure that in a few years time there will be more of an MC culture over there. It would be great to see more Asian MC’s.
You’re back in the UK and have gone full steam ahead with your Keep It Real Life Coaching project. Life coaching seems to be a real buzz word at the minute, but what actually is it?
I’m a certified Human Potential Coach, which comprises not only life coaching but also health, performance and personal development coaching.
Essentially, just as a sports player would use a coach to improve their game, coaching is when a client partners up with me to map out a clear picture of the changes and development that is required for them to realise their potential and achieve their most audacious goals.
I coach my clients to adopt what we call a ‘Bulletproof lifestyle’, which results in increases to energy and emotional intelligence, improved relationships, greater clarity and productivity shooting through the roof.
Through my coaching, I aim to help professionals working in the music industry to take greater control of their lives rather than letting life control them. If you are ready to shift to the next level of success, and committed to doing the work, working with a coach can get you to your goals a lot faster.
I help music industry professionals to keep it real by living a life that is in tune with their deepest values
I love the name Keep It Real, it’s a motto I like to live by. Also it’s a phrase used in a lot of old hip hop, and is used quite powerfully by Saul Williams in Krusts epic track Coded Language. Why did you choose that name for this project?
Before I even started coaching, my uncle used to try and take the piss out of me by saying ‘keep it real’ whenever he saw me. Wrongly assuming that it was a phrase commonly used by drum and bass MCs.
The name was chosen for this project, however, because it relates to our values as human beings. I help music industry professionals to keep it real by living a life that is in tune with their deepest values. This is the essence of my whole coaching practice.
By establishing our values, we can bring them to centre stage and make sure they are aligned with every decision or choice we make. When we do this, we get more fulfilment out of life and find greater balance.
It’s a coincidence how you referenced that Coded Language track, as Krust is a mentor, I’m currently working with him to further my own development!
What does a typical session involve? I’m guessing at the minute, what with social distancing measures, Zoom is playing a big part in the process?
I spend a lot of time coaching on Zoom, where sessions are just as powerful as they are face to face. It’s convenient as I can have clients from anywhere in the world and they can be coached from the comfort of their own home.
The flow of a session will revolve around the client’s agenda. We will usually identify what it is they want to work on, then explore the topic using all sorts of methods that let us dig deeper, such as powerful questions, perspective shifting and even somatic awareness exercises where we tap into the whole body as a source of wisdom.
We break their big dream down into small steps that are challenging but achievable, and help to build up the momentum that will drive them towards their bigger goal.
I don’t tell my clients what to do, this is a common misconception regarding coaching. We work together and I’m your hype man that helps you to stay accountable for your actions.
The music industry is notoriously stressful. Every generation seems to have its own sad story of seemingly successful musicians losing their way, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, closer to home, Keith Flint from The Prodigy. Dubstep artist Benga was very public about his mental health issues related to the music lifestyle. What do you put this down to?
While an artist may find it therapeutic to make music, it’s all the other baggage that a career in the music industry brings that makes it hard for them to cope. The travelling, erratic hours, unbalanced diets, the highs of smashing a show in front of huge crowds then the lonely lows of going back to an empty hotel room.
While producing or performing, artists can reach a state of flow, where they are in control, releasing their anxiety and tension.
The moment they come off stage is where the stress begins, as they no longer have control and things become uncertain. This can do severe damage to an artists mental health, and in some cases can result in them using unhealthy coping mechanisms to escape from the pressure, which can develop into seriously dangerous addictions.
It’s not surprising that some artists suffer burnout or have mental breakdowns given all of the demands of the fast-paced music industry lifestyle.
Obviously the examples I gave above are at the more serious end of the spectrum. What are some of the day to day issues that people in the drum and bass or wider music community could be battling & how can they be addressed?
I’m going to select 3 main issues from an endless list:
Burning the candle at both ends
We have a desire to push ourselves to the limit. The funny thing is, by doing less, and actually setting aside time to get some proper rest, we are able to produce better quality work. Our body is the vehicle which we have been given to transport us through life, and if we don’t take care of it, sooner or later it’s going to break down. This will happen physically, mentally or both.
By implementing a regular self-care routine where we make sure we set aside time to rest, to exercise, to hydrate and eat the right amount of good food, we will be able to thrive in life, and bounce back more quickly in the event of having the odd work-related all-nighter.
Plenty of people come to me telling me they need a ‘kick up the arse’. Nowadays more than ever we are faced with endless distractions, which makes it harder for us to ‘get in the zone’ and be productive. Our minds start to wander and we forget what it was we were working on in the first place.
To combat this, we can get organized and give ourselves a list of tasks to complete each day, starting with the most difficult one, and working our way down the list. Setting deadlines and removing any visible distractions will help us to ensure we stay focused.
Lack of direction and self-belief
Do you have specific, concrete, measurable goals that you are setting out to achieve? Do you have a clear mission and vision? Without these fundamental pillars in place, we are progressing slowly and not achieving our full potential. When we start to lose focus on our goals, we tend to start questioning ourselves, comparing ourselves to others and worrying what people will think.
When we have a clear picture of where we want to go, we can visualise what it will look like and build up our self-belief to drive us towards making it happen.
social media ISN’T real life!
Do you find social media pulls people’s focus from achieving their goals? Or can it be good for up & coming artists to see how their idols are conducting their careers?
Firstly I would like to remind anyone reading this that social media ISN’T real life! It can be great for up and coming artists to see how others are conducting their careers, but in many cases the way artists portray themselves on social media rarely shows the real picture. Anyone using social media who compares themselves to others might end up feeling depressed or disheartened.
If you have your priorities right and you use social media wisely, you will be fine. This all comes down to discipline. If you’re able to limit your use of social media, then it shouldn’t be an issue. The issue arises when we are not strict enough with ourselves and we end up spending far too long being unproductive and endlessly scrolling.
By all means have a flick through, comment on a few posts, share your bits and pieces and then move on to something important.
Social media never stops, and it is very easy to get sucked into a black hole that prevents you from being productive for hours at a time.