Sitting at the keys in a theater in downtown Miami, GAWVI, the Reach Records producer, DJ, and songwriter crystallizes his reasons for doing creative work to just a few words: “My passion is to motivate and inspire, to urge people to tap into the potential inside them.” He’s playing a few notes, enjoying the lull of a quiet venue before it fills with thousands of screaming fans and supporters. Truth is, it wasn’t always like this. He wasn’t always rocking packed out shows, but he did know it would someday be his reality. Some might call it confidence in one’s ability, but GAWVI, whose debut EP Lost in Hue dropped on July 29, and hit #1 on the iTunes Dance charts, understands it as having a firm grasp on his purpose.
Born to an El Salvadorian father and a Dominican mother, GAWVI’s parents instilled in him a sense of boldness from a young age. A first generation American, they taught him to live by faith and to use that faith to power his dreams. Naturally, they also introduced him to bachata and other Latin-Caribbean rhythms that helped form his musical palette early on. “Me and my sister would clean the house for hours listening to Selena, Juan Luis Guerra, all that,” GAWVI says. “It just became a part of us.” Throughout his late teens and early 20s, GAWVI grew increasingly passionate about his heritage and felt he’d one day serve as a voice and source of inspiration for Latino youth and immigrants everywhere. “I just want to be a vessel, man,” he says, “one that pushes for change but encourages people to be who they are. Learning to be yourself, no matter where you come from, is the most liberating thing you can do.”
While working under the tutelage of hit makers Rodney Jerkins and Pharrell in 2011, GAWVI began to envision the future he’d always wanted for himself. For years, he was producing for an array of artists, sometimes struggling to pay the rent, but getting by on his production credits and the occasional television placement. Then in 2012, after years of working with the label on various projects, GAWVI officially signed with Reach Records. He started to strategically map out the direction he wanted to take his art.
Fast forward a few short years and not even GAWVI could have predicted the overwhelming response his music would receive. From producing chart-topping singles for Lecrae, Andy Mineo, and Trip Lee, to having his songs played on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, GAWVI has cemented himself as one of the most invigorating producers in recent memory. He fuses hip-hop, pop, and electro to create a sound with a global appeal. Suffice to say, the world has taken notice.
GAWVI’s second EP Holding Hue descends Sept. 9. Check out the video premiere for “Late Nights,” exclusively on VIBE.com.