Blak Whyte Gray is a tantalising intersection of hip hop and dance. Mikey J Asante’s music fuses intricately constructed beats with ambient soundscapes redolent of Burial and Actress, whereas choreographer Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy’s CV includes collaborations with Danny Boyle (for the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony), FKA Twigs, Plan B, Dizzee Rascal and more. Mikey and Kenrick are Co-Artistic Directors of dance company Boy Blue; we spoke to Mikey ahead of Brighton Dome’s upcoming Blak Whyte Gray performance.
Mikey started dancing at the age of five, and eloquently discusses theatre and dance throughout our conversation. “Theatre can say so much more [than music]. When people walk into that room, they’re giving you license to transport them. We know that what we’re about to watch is not real. They’ve paid for their ticket, sat down and said ‘entertain me, take me to another space’. Whereas with music you’re in a sedentary space of listening to what that person wants to tell you.
“There’s something that’s so powerful about dance in terms of its visceral/real sense. The way you can feel and see the moves really transcends a lot of spaces in a unique way. There’s something in movement that can say a lot that I think words can’t.”
Mikey wants people to connect with Boy Blue’s work from a hip hop perspective, so “people can start understanding that we’re talking about what’s happening now. “It’s definitely one of the youngest art forms even though it’s in its 40s. I think all in all, hip hop as an art form requires you. It’s like a big sampler, if you’re making Brazilian hip hop, Russian hip hop, British hip hop, it requires your real energy, your authenticity.”
Mikey’s passion for composition sprung from his desire to hone the complete experience for the audience, inspired in part by his love of film. “I’ve always had that energy of creating something that has an arc. The natural progression is to want to be able to control the music itself and not be bound to searching for songs that already exist. It starts turning into a desire to manipulate and control the whole scene.
“When I’m the creative energy behind the aesthetic, my language is to interpret it and put it into music. Kenrick might turn around and go ‘maybe we should extend this, maybe we should put this in a particular format’. Whoever has the energy, whoever has the right vibe at that time, we’re running with that.”
One of the most beautiful things about dance is how movement can combine with music and lighting to exhilarating effect in the concert hall. Boy Blue’s collaborative, holistic approach – and a host of positive reviews – bodes well for any music fan who might like to try something new. The soundtrack can be found on Spotify by searching for BlakWhyteGray, if you’d like to get a feel for what tones and moods to expect.
Photo by Carl Fox
Brighton Dome Concert Hall, 7th, 7.30pm