Goya Gumbani was in his mid-teens when he moved from Brooklyn, New York to London. He tried several different jobs for a few years, but wasn’t feeling it, before finding the Billionaire Boys Club LDN store. Ultimately, he wanted to pursue music, and craved an environment where he could fully express himself.

After releasing 4 projects this year, Goya sat down with Ross as he plans his fifth release, and upcoming live presentation in London.

RW: You grew up spending most of your childhood in the US. How was school out there?

GG: Yeah, I grew up in Canarsie, Brooklyn. School was good man, although I was a badass kid. It was fun overall. Sometimes it was scary but it was cool... and I went to predominantly black schools, which I appreciated.

RW: What were you watching on TV?

GG: A lot of cartoons like Samurai Jack, Rocket Power, Courage the Cowdly Dog, Johnny Bravo and then BET, 106 & Park, Flavor of Love and maaaaaaad fucking wrestling.

RW: When you grew up in NYC what were you listening to? That vintage, raspy, boombap-era New York hip hop is what I refer to as “New York Hip Hop” and I relate that to your sound even though it’s 2020 and you’re living in London now. Are you consciously carrying New York in your music or is it subconsciously rooted, from your upbringing or musical influences?

GG: I was listening to plenty of RnB growing up. Macy Gray, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Musiq Soulchild, Lauryn Hill, Mary J, Maxwell, Alicia Keys etc. etc. My moms had the CD’s in the whip. We’d also watch BET all day. Rap shit at the time was like Jay-Z, 50, Biggie, Nas, Papoose etc. So yeah, I guess that’s rooted in me.

RW: How old were you when you moved to the UK and why did you move here?

GG: I was 14/15 at the time and it was because my Mother moved back here after years of living in the US and so, I joined her.

RW: I have this fairytale image of NYC in the 90s. Slick Rick once said about NYC - “When rap came along, that became the new toy everyone was playing with, like the skateboard… everyone was into it in NYC" Was that the vibe? Were you writing stuff then?

GG: Hip Hop is from NYC, as far as I’m concerned. This is all we knew, from my era anyway, but nah i wasn’t writing shit, I was running round outside.

RW: And when you first got here, to the UK, what were your first impressions? In comparison to what you know now - has your view on the UK changed?

GG: Son, they threw me in at the deep end [laughing]. I lived in a white area for the first 3 months, at my Auntie’s crib, in some weird area in Kent. It was fucked up because i grew up in the hood with black people and black culture then i came here and white people showed me racism. It was a lot. It was weird too because I witnessed it but it wasn’t actually aimed at me, personally. I was exempt because I was the American Kid. They did it to this black guy that moved at the same time as me but he was from Jamaica. It was completely nothing like that shit they show you of the UK, the Queen's Guards, small teacups & croissants. I moved to South East London, a little later, to a more ethnically diverse area. That shit was a lot more normal & had more similar feels to Brooklyn.

RW: Before you worked in the BBC LDN Store, what were you doing for work? Were you working on music back then?

GG: I used to work in construction for a while, I was driving cranes for a few years. That was a cool gig, and I moved around the city from site to site, I was seeing London from a birds eye view.

RW: Who inspired you to stop the retail career and commit to music full time?

GG: Working a job was just the thing I did until I knew what I wanted to do, or what I’m now realising, what I was destined to do. But I like clothes and my cousin had a foot in the door of this streetwear, retail world and he really brought me in.

RW: The music alumni from the BBC LDN Store are permeating. Were you all talking about starting out when working together or was it just a common interest?

GG: We were all homies really. We spoke music and aspirations but it wasn’t OD. At that time I was just sharpening my sword. We used to turn the Store into a Studio after closing hours though and make stuff, shit was a movie.

RW: Did you face any challenges when you started making music?

GG: Yeah, the understanding of music took a little time to get my head around, making beats, finding BPM, that kinda stuff.

RW: Why did you start making music and how?

GG: I was always around musicians so I used to listen and watch them do they thing. Then I started tryna do my own thing and it just happened like that.

RW: When you write, there are a lot of personal stories in certain tracks. I know that the passing of your sister had a big impact, in one of the tracks you talk about her leaving you a list - not expecting to know every item on the list but was music part of it?

GG: Yeah all this music shit is for my sister. Before I used to just make music and never release it and she was always like “Yo, release this shit!” so yeah, music was on the list.

RW: Production wise, you're working with mostly London producers on your recent projects, organically. Who would you like to work with next year and beyond?

GG: Hmmm… Roc Marciano, Jay Versace, Alchemist, Budgie, Pink Siifu, Navy Blue.

RW: Stylistically you are an individual for sure but I can decode it because I know of the background to your wardrobe for the past 7 years or so - there's definitely a mixture of influences and places you've lived/worked etc. How would you describe your style? What do you look for in clothing?

GG: I would describe it as my own. I just go through phases. Right now I’m in my grown man bag. I like shit that looks 80’s - pro Black, UK Reggae and Dub man from Brixton, those kinda feels.

RW: Visually what inspires you on the video/imagery and communication side to your work as an artist?

GG: All the black people within music and film that came before me. I look at a lot of old vinyls and old music videos for inspiration.

RW: Who did you look up to musically growing up?

GG: Michael Jackson & Dennis Brown.

RW: Do you have a wish list of artists that you'd like to work with in the future? 

GG: Yeah and the list is mad long man. I’ll give you a few: Maxo, Lex Amor, Conway, Knowledge the Pirate, Jadasea, Earl Sweatshirt , Maassai, blah blah blah, the list goes on...

RW: How often have you been writing new music and what’s your method to making new stuff?

GG: It depends, really, like sometimes I will write every day. Sometimes I write every few days. Music is an expression for me so there ain't a method really, I just let the pen write what my mind tells it to in the moment.

RW: To date you’re releasing projects or “EP’s” over singles which again speaks more of your style, I think, it’s more timeless over trend, and it isn’t instant like a single - perhaps you need the track before and after the one in the middle to give it context? I could be fantasising this but what has your strategy been with sharing your work and what will it look like moving forward?

GG: Yeah, I felt like a single didn’t paint enough of the picture that I was tryna present. And the EPs spoke more in volume. The chance of someone vibing with 3 of 5 tracks to 1 of 1 was also greater, so those were the maths also.

RW: What do you want to achieve from your music as an artist, a person and also to leave with your listeners and fans?

GG: I just wanna uplift and tell my story, how it’s shaped myself and those around me. I want to share my black experience and let black people know that we’re in this together.

RW: In 5 years what do you want to have accomplished?

GG: Stability, financial freedom & a cult following.