- Text by Niloufar Haidari
It’s 3pm on a typically mediocre British summer’s day, and I’m standing on the edge of a mosh pit as Deijuvhs performs “Moonlight Bop,” the UK nu-metal track that blew up on TikTok and resulted in Fred Durst DM’ing the alt artist on Instagram, asking if he’d like to open for Limp Bizkit at Gunnersbury Park in August.
“I was like hell yeah, I'm sure I got some spare time,” Deijuvhs laughs, retelling the story over the phone a few days later as he waits for a friend outside JerkFusion in Walthamstow Market, the area the 27-year-old grew up in and has recently moved back to. Despite taking to the stage a full five hours before the headline act, his set drew a sizeable and engaged crowd eager to discover new music on an eclectic line-up that also included pop-punk act KennyHoopla and electro-rock Pendulum.
Deijuvhs (pronounced Day-U-VHS) is an artist whose musical output is hard to pin down, pulling from such a varied range of sounds and influences that it might be simpler to list what genres he hasn’t incorporated into his music than those he has. Over the course of the three albums he’s released since 2020, Deijuvhs has dipped into everything from bouncy breakbeat to ska-inflected indie to Brent Faiyaz-inspired RnB. When I ask him what we can expect to hear on his next release, due later this year, he rattles off “obviously some nu-metal, country, reggaeton, drum and bass…”
Until fairly recently, musical genres were far more segregated. Whether you liked rock or hip-hop, there was an invisible wall with a side you were expected to be on. Bands like Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, who combined the two in a way that hadn’t quite been done before to huge commercial appeal, were revolutionary. Today, the internet and its ouroboros of references has largely nullified these distinctions, with big artists like Lil Uzi Vert and Trippie Redd blending hip-hop and emo in both their music and sense of style. “It's definitely changed because you've got all the mainstream people being kind of alternative, so now 'alternative' isn't really alternative anymore, it's just fucking normal,” he laughs.
Deijuvhs’s musical career started when his dad bought him a guitar at 15 and he decided to form a band with a couple of his friends – including Ben Spence, with whom he runs the annual DIY festival / fund Hoodstock, designed to create pathways for young people into the creative industries. “We couldn't even play our instruments, but we’d practise every day after school in [Ben]’s front room. We just started making weird noise influenced by bands like Sonic Youth, Wavves, Nirvana and some hardcore punk,” he remembers.
Initially birthed as a thank you to the community for the fundraising effort that helped rebuild Spence’s studio, Fuzzbrain, when it was destroyed in a fire that spread from an adjoining industrial unit in 2020, Hoodstock has since grown into something much bigger. “We recognised that it's gonna get monetised, so we thought: let that be us, and in a way that actually represents what we needed,” says Spence of the decision to ticket the festival, the third iteration of which is taking place at Colour Factory on September 1. “We were like ‘alright, what did we need when we were 15 year-old-boys?’ – and that’s when I came up with the idea of the fund.”
A testament to collective community effort, the Hoodstock fund is subsidised almost entirely by tickets from the festival and then split into 12 monthly chunks – half available for studio time, and half for live shows – that can be claimed by underprivileged young people looking to explore a future in music.
“Say someone wants to play an instrument for the first time but they've never picked one up – they can just come to the studio. They don't need to own anything, or bring anything. It's all the same equipment that my bigger clients would use, industry standard stuff,” Spence explains with genuine pride. “Or it could be someone who’s on the edge of getting signed but they haven't got any money, and they need to master a record, or retry a vocal. It's multi-purpose; whatever the community needs, or however young people want to shape their culture within the city.”
Although widespread access to the internet has made it easier to download music production software and social media has facilitated sharing the results without the backing of a record label, London’s music scene seems to have become increasingly dominated by the offspring of the rich and well-connected. Social safety nets such as council housing and access to benefits that allowed previous generations of working class artists the freedom to work on their craft have been decimated and replaced with sky-rocketing rents and a cost of living crisis. As a result, the only people left in a position to take a career in music seriously are those who can afford for it not to work out overnight, or those with an insider knowledge of the industry.
“I spend a lot of time thinking about what music is represented across wider music media outlets. It's very polarised, and I feel like it's a disservice to our city and how our city looks – not only nationally, but internationally” muses Spence. “You know in politics they're always talking about the old boy network, all that Etonian shit? We're just trying to do a ghetto version of that.”
“Because broke people make the best music!” Deijuvhs responds, laughing, when I ask him the same question. “We've got the most to talk about it, innit. There's a lot more broke people in the world than there are rich people. You need to be able to relate to someone – you want to see someone from your area, or your class, doing well.”
The Hoodstock fund is always claimed within 48 hours of each monthly announcement, and has been used by over 40 young artists between the ages of 15-25 to date. Some choose to use the money to put on their own shows such as Restless Basslines, Blvckbox Entertainment presents, and the anti.net Cyberdance party. “I would have booked [that lineup] a totally different way. It would have been cool, but it would have been nowhere near as good as what it was” says Spence of the decision behind allowing young people to use the fund to organise their own events. “That's a prime example of resourcing someone [who has] an idea and then they run with it, and then before you know it, they've created a new format, which is what I think you should be doing consistently.”
Allowing young people to use the money to decide what the city’s DIY music scene looks like and to be given the freedom to push it forward in new directions is central to the principles and motivations behind Hoodstock. “Basically no one was putting our shit on, so we had to do that ourselves. And then it's like okay, what other brilliant things are happening around us that also aren’t getting the representation they deserve?” he continues. “There's certain things that I might not understand, so why don't I just give the artists the resources to do it themselves? They can give a much more informed, better representation of what that is.”
This year’s festival is the most ambitious to date, leaning into the shared DNA between punk and hip-hop, with British hardcore bands The Chisel and Chubby and the Gang playing alongside oddball rappers Kid Bookie and Onoe Caponoe. This year also sees them hosting an ‘Earth Brunch’ – possibly inspired by Jay-Z – in a partnership with Earth Agency that brings eight young people from London together with industry professionals including Jamz Supernova and NinjaTune for a brunch, where they can expand their network and learn from their expertise.
Central to Hoodstock’s DIY ethos is their pay it forward ticket scheme, where festival-goers can help provide access to the festival to young people who might not otherwise be able to afford to attend, by buying an extra ticket. “Everyone should be doing it. Even though you don't have loads of money, you can buy an extra ticket and you can actively help shape the culture” explains Spence. “It's all about giving people options and some sort of influence as to what this city is. I feel that there is a real disconnect; loads of people complain about the state of it, but don't really know the answer. I'm not saying this is the answer to all the problems, or it's gonna stop the massive class imbalance in music, or stop everyone going to jail, but I think it's a way of empowering people and giving them the option to do something.”
Deijuvhs, for his part, has a blunter way of putting it. “I was speaking to my producer, Mattu, today and I was like, ‘All I care about is the people that paid for a ticket had a good time, and the artists had a good time, and the kids who use the fund money use it wisely. But all the other bullshit is fucking long.”