Goya Gumbani

“it’s like breakfast or dinner”

Born and raised in Brooklyn, rapper Goya Gumbani moved to London as a teenager. Landing a retail job at the London branch of Pharrell and Nigo’s streetwear label, Billionaire Boys Club, Goya joined a hub of fashion and music. The story goes that when the store closed, BBC would become a de facto studio – with industry heavyweights passing through its doors. Goya went on to pursue music, notably with the release of the 2018 EP, Morta & More Doves, but fashion has remained on his orbit. For one, he walked the Louis Vuitton AW presentation earlier this year – a far cry from ‘[modelling] in mad streetwear stores basements’ five years ago, as he shared on Twitter. Goya’s slick personal style is both an amalgamation of his inspirations (‘I like shit that looks 80s – pro Black, UK Reggae and Dub man from Brixton,’ he told BBC), and a visual embodiment of the London music scene that has come to influence his sound. Last year was a busy year for Goya, releasing five EPs with the likes of producer Oliver Palfreyman, on November’s six track EP Truth Be Sold, and with Bori on Steps Across the Pond from March (which got a limited edition vinyl pressing last month, a year after its release). Goya’s catalogue is consistent in its warmth. Often reflective and contemplative – and at times, existential – Goya’s vocals are perfectly matched to the soulful, hazy beats that are coming to define the artist’s sound. 

How do you set the pace of making music, and when do you know if something makes the cut for release?

I do this every day – at this point it’s like breakfast or dinner. I wake up and think about something music related. The making the cut process really just depends on where I’m at sonically or visually.

“Being from Brooklyn, living in London” is something of a tagline attached to your name. In terms of your sound, style and influence though, how do these elements come together?

They are both two great cities, they have both taught me different things from different perspectives. Both cities are in my DNA at this point, so they make me – if that makes sense.

I’d love to know if working at Billionaire Boys Club opened up your experience of London in different ways. How much of working there influenced your transition into music?

Yeah BBC was like a hub, everybody from every crack of the world used to pass through. So I met a lot of people in all fields, but most of the people I worked with there, also made music. I use to think I would just meet people to meet ‘em. But soon after, I realised you meet everyone for a reason. It’s not only to talk sweet nothings, but to build an grow to some degree.

At what point did you feel ready to share your music with people around you? 

Few years ago, I just had something I wanted to show, which kinda lead me to a place where I wasn’t fazed by my own self-doubt. 

I really love the EP covers/videos, and how they’re all quite different – is there any relationship between the music and the visuals you use? (If so, to what effect?)

The artwork and visuals are a lot. I feel like that’s gonna speak to you before you even hear anything. So it’s chosen with the intent to grab and leave wonder… Everything relates though; it’s all one big canvas of imagery that can speak on its own if needs be.

Besides appearing in the Louis Vuitton AW21 presentation, what defines ‘style’ and your style? 

Style is expression and personal touch to me. I worked in a couple menswear spots back in the day, so that gave me the knowledge into different eras and how style was a time stamp. But, my old boy Jack used to tell me: “if no one likes it, you going in the right direction”, Which I took as get dressed for yaself and you can’t go wrong. So that’s the motto.

What are you currently working on, and what can we expect from you this year?

I got a collab project coming out with [the producer] Subculture and a solo tape coming out this year I’m excited about. Few things with some familiar faces too… Oh and catch me on a few festival line ups!


Photography · DAVID REISS
Interview · ELLIE BROWN

Subscribe to our