Brockhampton might not fit the description of the traditional “boyband” but this isn’t your traditional artists collective, so an offbeat moniker is all but essential. The 12-person group—originally hailing from Texas and now based in South Central, Los Angeles—is made up of engineers, producers, rappers, a graphic designer and a DJ, and Kevin Abstract is the group’s creative director and de facto leader.
Since releasing his debut album MTV1987 in 2014, Abstract has built a loyal and engaged fanbase built on the back of his vulnerable, relatable lyrics; his message of inclusivity and non-judgment; and the attention and responsibility that comes with being one of the few queer figures in hip-hop. Everything he releases is crafted with meticulous care—from his sophomore album American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story to the “prom” he organized last December—and his upcoming tour will be no different. Thanks to a new Viceland series entitled AMERICAN BOYBAND, we’ll get to see how the tour comes together, and how Kevin and his Brockhampton cohorts plan and prepare.
In addition to premiering the trailer for the upcoming series (which you can view above), we also asked the Brockhampton crew about how they and AMERICAN BOYBAND came to be, and what they hope to achieve with the show, among other topics.
Where did the ideas behind the AMERICAN BOYBAND series come from?
We were making a lot of cool shit at the house and putting it online, including a series called Helmet Boy. Someone from VICELAND saw our stuff and was super into it. He came to our house and asked, “If you could make a tv show, what would it be?” From there, we planned how we would incorporate a TV show into our everyday lives and upcoming tour
How did Brockhampton originally form and what initially motivated you guys to take making music as band seriously?
Kevin made a post on a Kanye fan forum, basically saying, “Yo I’m tryna make a group of artists. Anyone’s welcome. I just want friends.” It was serious from the jump; we just sucked for a really long time. At the end of 2014, the majority of us had moved to Texas together, closing the digital gap.
The internet is cool but we want to be a household name. We want to give hope to all the bedroom artists and dreamers.
Being that you initially met on Kanye West fan forums, what made you want to start building something together in the IRL world vs. the URL world?
The internet is cool but we want to be a household name. We want to give hope to all the bedroom artists and dreamers. Plus, we’ve always wanted to be together as a group rather than doing everything over the internet.
This is Kevin Abstract’s first US tour. How do you start preparing for the tour; can you give us some insights into your creative process?
We would sit in our living room and brainstorm a bunch of different stuff. Kevin originally wanted to have a 3D modeled animal or something on stage. He was gonna sit on it throughout the night with a big flag behind him and just sing songs, but changed his mind right before the first show. Back at the house, people focused on refining their craft, working with the smaller group who wasn’t on tour.
What are some things you hope to accomplish with this run of shows?
To show people that they can do anything they put their minds to. It may turn out good or bad, but it is possible.
How do you guys like living together in South Central? Is it difficult to be around your band 24/7?
At times, it does get tiresome living with 13 other people. However, we love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. South Central isn’t an ideal place to live but we made it work.
What are some of the key ways that you feel rap music has changed over the last few years?
Rap has become way more about the vibe and feeling as opposed to the message that’s being conveyed.
It feels surprisingly natural for a TV show. It feels like something we would make, because it’s something we made.
What was it like to have a TV crew follow you guys around everywhere? Did you guys feel like you were in the sort of typical reality show setup?
The crew was dope but having everything you say and do recorded is like willingly traveling around with undercover feds.
What do you think separates AMERICAN BOYBAND from other programs on TV right now?
It’s capturing a moment you usually never get to see. When it comes to musicians, you either see them at the very top or at the very bottom. Also, we weren’t forced to do anything we didn’t want to do, and it shows. We were able to score, edit, and oversee everything. It feels surprisingly natural for a TV show. It feels like something we would make, because it’s something we made.
What are some things you want to convey to the viewer who watches the show?
We hope whoever watches it realizes that we didn’t just arrive on the scene with a TV show. We’ve worked our asses off and aren’t even near where we aspire to be. With that said, we also hope people are inspired by the ridiculous state of our lives and realize anything is possible if you’re passionate and willing to pursue it.
American Boyband premiers June 8 on Viceland.