Swati Artists Based In The Diaspora: Bauer Larson
Formerly known as “Wavy Gorilla” Bauer Larson is a Swati born artist and writer with a distinct voice and colorful skill-set. His music often rotates between exuberant optimism and harsh realism. His music can be classified (but not limited to) as Hip Hop and Rap music, with subtle elements of Jazz and Funk. Lars is obsessed with the minor details that most people overlook and he is known for planting layered Easter Eggs throughout his songs much to the delight of rap nerds and music critics.
Born Gcinizwilenkhosi Bauer Saint, Larson Dlamini, Bauer Larson is an artist that has always been creative and has evolved from making comic books and short films to being the future of eSwatini’s hip hop. “I’ve been creating for as long as I can remember. Back in Primary school, my best friends and I used to make comic books at my house after school. In early high school, I used to make short films, animated sketches, and skits for my drama class,” he shares about his motivation to be an artist. “When it came to music, I was spending a lot of time behind the scenes helping people tell their stories, then I realized I had my own story to tell. No one pushed me towards that revelation, the desire to express myself artistically has always been there, I just hadn’t acknowledged it until I decided to tell my own story. In a sense, it was very much self-motivated,” he adds.
Bauer Larson recalls receiving an acoustic guitar for Christmas and playing it all day with no direction before being taught by his cousin (Sands), as some of his childhood musical memories. “The first Hip Hop video I ever remember seeing was 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’. I was probably 4 or 5 years old when I saw that. I didn’t understand what the song was about, but I thought it was cool seeing someone rap upside down,” he continues to share about his childhood memories.
We had a chat with the Taiwan based artist and this is how it went.
Who or what motivates/inspires your music?
Life! My music and creative work is based on the human experience. On life in the real world, not an Instagram fantasy or a GTA video game. That’s why so many people are able to connect with the music on an emotional level. As long as I’m alive, I’ll always have something to write about.
Take us through your song making process?
I don’t really have a formula for writing songs. tbh (to be honest). I do a lot of journaling and sometimes I turn those thoughts into song lyrics. Sometimes I randomly start freestyling stuff and I build concepts around raw ideas. In essence, I make projects. I rarely make throwaway songs. When making a project I usually have some themes and concepts I want to explore so I let my curiosity lead the way. Once I find something solid, I’m able to draft track lists and use titles to represent the themes I want to break down.
You recently released a project entitled “Behind Closed Doors”,briefly share the concept about this project and the whole storyline behind every song?
There’s sooo many layers to this. I’m looking forward to people dissecting it and picking it apart. So, I won’t give away too much here.
Early on, the concept was to bring people into my inner world. Overtime that concept evolved and I developed it in a way where it starts off with me on the outside of a door that leads to my dreams, solid relationships and more. Which then concludes with me on the inside, having crossed over. The project begins with me leaving home and embarking on a journey towards my dream. It then concludes with me returning home a new man having witnessed many things, collected battle scars and formed deeper rooted relationships.
Milk & Honey: This song is about our dreams that were killed coming back to life. About finding the drive to push towards the end goal.
Watch Ya Step: This song is about me finding my own path, I tried to follow in my father’s steps but I couldn’t find my footing because his path is unique to him. Destiny isn’t hereditary, so I had to take the first step along my own path. This song is also about the paradox of progress. About how the closer you get to your goals the further you feel. Progress isn’t a reliable measure of success because it doesn’t always mean you’re going in the right direction. On this song, I was wrestling with idea of taking your time vs racing against the clock. Taking your time can lead to procrastination, whereas rushing leads to mistakes and fatigue. It was interesting for me to try and find the grey area or a balance between the two extremes. On top of that, it’s about handling the drive and passion we have when pursuing our dream responsibly to avoid burnout and overworking ourselves.
Eviction Notice: This song is about rest. Finding rest in God, giving certain relationships a rest and letting my past rest in peace.
Moving Day: This song is about growth and self-acceptance. Coming out of your protective shell and becoming the person you were created to be. Flaws and all.
Locksmith: This song is about being open. It’s about inviting God and trust worthy people into our lives, and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with one another in order to build lasting relationships. This song was birthed from my need to connect with people. I wanted to feel welcomed and accepted as a broken and imperfect person. And, the first step was to be welcoming and accepting of others.
That sums up the journey of self-discovery this project was for me. There’s a lot I haven’t mentioned because I don’t want to spoil too much for the audience. There’s a bunch of Easter eggs people have found yet. Happy trails!
How has the reception to the project been?
It’s been incredible. I refused to dumb down the content in order to be more appealing because I trust my audience. I don’t look down on them, I know they’re intelligent. I’m really glad they’re enjoying it! I work really hard, my creative work has so much value to me and it’s personal, so sharing it with my audience and the rest of the word is always a big deal for me. I don’t share anything unless I enjoy it, otherwise there isn’t much of a sacrifice involved. One major takeaway people should get from this is that there’s joy on the other side of sacrifice.
Who produced the project?
Milk & Honey: Produced By Good Snacks, Recorded By Patrick Kung, Mixed & Mastered By BeatNine09
Watch Ya Step: Produced By Yolophonik, Recorded By Patrick Kung, Mixed By Qiniso Motsa &Mastered By Brian Mkhonta
Eviction Notice: Produced By Zee Will of Blu Makic Beat Co, Recorded By BeatNine09, Mixed & Mastered By BeatNine09
Moving Day: Produced By ULTRV, Recorded By BeatNine09, Mixed & Mastered By BeatNine09
Locksmith: Produced By Zee Will of Blu Makic Beat Co, Recorded By Patrick Kung, Mixed & Mastered By BeatNine09,
Written & Performed By Gcinizwilenkhosi Bauer Dlamini
Executively Produced By Bauer Larson
You featured Yellow Bud and Yanda, how did these collaborations come about?
Bud and I went to the same Primary school, so we were already familiar with one another before he started putting out music. I had such a great time listening to his debut project “Late Bloomer” (which came out around this time last year). I remember wanting to understand the project and the artist behind it more, so I met up with him to reconnect. We met up, spoke about life and had a chill day. Then I played him some early drafts of BCD, as well as a couple of beats I had from different producers. The Moving Day beat stood out for me because it was something neither of us recognized as familiar territory. So I asked him if he was game and he was all for it. We documented the rest of this collaboration and you can watch the track come to life on Episode 2 of the Mini Documentary Series we made surrounding the project. It’s available on my YouTube channel.
Yanda and I go to the same University and have classes together. We never really spoke until a friend of mine told me he was performing at a school event with her. I remember being shocked because I hardly ever heard her speak out loud, yet alone sing. I was curious, so I asked her about her singing the next time I saw her at school. She was really humble about her ability so I immediately knew she was incredible. We started talking more and more about music amongst other things and I gradually became at ease with her. She’s really cool! Before I got a chance to bring up the track that I wanted her on, she suggested we collaborate on something sometime. A couple weeks later we went to Pat’s studio, by then I had already written and recorded the song so all we needed were her vocals on the chorus. It was her first time in a studio setting so I booked an hour of studio time so she wouldn’t feel rushed. She knocked it out the park on her second try, which was within the first five minutes of our session…
I’d love to work with her again. She’s got a lot to talk about in her music, which excites about what’s to come from her. I don’t know when she’s releasing some solo material, but when she does, we all need to press play and listen.
Eviction Notice was the lead single for the project, briefly tell us why you chose those songs?
It felt right. We needed to make a statement and that’s what that song did. In comparison to my release prior to Eviction Notice, the difference in quality, content and substance is night and day. It gave people a reason to wait as long as they did for the project.
What are your thoughts on the current state of eSwatini’s music scene?
I think it currently is in the best place it’s ever been. I’m not the most cultured on Eswatini music, I mostly listen to my friend’s music and they’re killing it right now. There’s a lot of great music coming out. I don’t get to hear everything, but what finds its way to me is usually really good. We have amazing artists in the realm production like Good Snacks, ULTRV, Brainz, BeatNine09 & YungOvee. As of late, I’ve been listening to Yang, RK, Grixxly & Amrig.
My favorite thing about the creative bubble at home is how connected all the artists are. I really call people and people really call me. No ego or nothing, just some young innovators trying to create art at the highest level possible.
Who is currently your favorite artist from the kingdom?
I haven’t heard everyone’s creative work. I’ll focus on Khile because he’s got a large catalog already. Khile (FKA Kaizen) has been one of my favorite artists for a while now. He makes original, conceptual, and intellectual music. I love the honesty, complexity, and layers in his writing as well as the soundscapes and textures in his production choices. It’s only a matter of time before his music catches on. I can see him breaking out the borders into international territory. I’d recommend “Woah Now”, “Dissipate”, “Precipitate”, “Flotra Freestyle” & “Flight”.
Being an artist based in the diaspora, how has it been?
Such a great question! As much as I love Eswatini, I did need to leave my comfort zone to spread my wings. Studying in Taiwan was the fresh start I didn’t know I needed. There are more opportunities, avenues, and resources available here for me to be creative. Being away from my friends and family allowed me to grow as a person. In the past, I’ve noticed that you’re not allowed to dream past a certain level in Eswatini. There’s a limit. My team and I are wired to go above and beyond, that’s our own standard. That’s why I have admiration for people like Kwandzile Bhembe, for playing a role in breaking down the boundaries of creativity in Eswatini.
What have been the highlights of your career?
So far, it’s been making and releasing ‘Behind Closed Doors’. Honestly the journey towards the finish line is more fun than the actual finish. The process of bringing the vision to life and connecting the dots is exhilarating for me. I’m not invested in the praise and admiration our creative work receives. I know that if I get attached to the praise and affection of people, I’ll get clingy and start doing whatever it takes to get applause. That’s not me. I’m not here to be liked.
Where can potential fans gain access to your music?
Everywhere! When it comes to releasing music, our top priority is making sure everyone has access to the music. Soundcloud and Audiomack are really popular platforms for music in Eswatini, however, a lot of people out here in Taiwan (and the rest of the world) use Spotify, Apple Music, and other DSPs, so I wanted them to be able to obtain the music as well. Our music is available wherever you listen to music. In fact, a member of our audience recently let us know that the YouTube links for our project weren’t working in Eswatini. So, we immediately manually re-uploaded it so everyone back home has access to the music.
Get to know more about Bauer Larson here.