TribeTalk with Andy Amadi & DJ Matthews of BKChatLDN
2017 must be the year of the web-series. Everyday, there’s a new youtube series popping up and lets be honest, most of it stems from the success of BKChatLDN. The show centers around a group of young people that hold lively debates on relevant topics and social issues, in a rather entertaining manner. Not only are they popping in their country of origin, the UK, but their popularity has soared in the U.S. To the point where ASAs all over are popping up with their versions of a“BKChat“ styled discussion. So when we heard that they were in the area (the DMV), we had no choice but to reach out for an interview.
We met up with the creator of BKChat, Andy Amadi, and Ayo a.k.a DJ Matthews, at an IHOP and had the stunning realization that…people in U.K. only have one flavor of syrup. This sounds funnier if you saw the snapchat story. Another surprise was that they were actually in the area to create a DMV BkChat series, but issa secret, you didn’t hear it from us. After some laughs, we eventually got around to asking some questions about the show, drama, future plans, and more. Read below!
What were you guys doing before BKChat?
Andy: I went to Uni to study film and television so I’ve always been doing the same thing just constantly writing to perfect my craft. I’ve released short films, music videos, documentaries and web series. (you can check out his series Spin right here).
Ayo: Andy and I have been together for ages so whenever he would have an idea he would reach out to me and we would brainstorm on how to bring it to life. We have worked together on several different projects over the years.
You and Ayo knew each other but how did the other members of season one get involved?
Andy: Initially it started as me casting my friends so we had a lot of mandem in there. It was originally supposed to be a sports segment and the men were arguing about sports and there was a lady in the room that began to chime in and talk back to the men when she wasn’t supposed to. After that a lightbulb went off in my head like this could actually be something good. I then decided to reach out to people that I had worked with professionally in the past. I had met Chioma at a music video shoot, Esther I knew from working together on a couple short films, I grew up knowing Lucas, and Wale and Ayo were friends of mine. I reached out to these specific people because they have always been vocal.
Ayo: A lot of times when you reach out to people that you don’t necessarily know about an idea or concept that you have, they might start talking about money and things like that and because this was originally a passion project, Andy had to reach out to people that genuinely believed in him and his ideas and that’s how most of us season 1 members came together.
How did you go about casting differently for the second season?
Andy: Season two was more conscious. Season two was more like ‘okay, we know the concept works so now we have to make sure we do it properly.’ The season 1 cast was interesting, but they weren’t necessarily diverse. In terms of background and thinking, most of the cast was from the same areas so they were very similar. So for season 2 we decided to reach out to wider London. We did an open audition and it was so crazy because almost 200 people showed up. It was overwhelming but it was nice to see as well. We ended up taking on eight people. Although we were initially only aiming for five, we felt that those eight deserved it and would bring something different to the panel
As a cast member, how do you feel about some of the questions that you’ve been given this season:
Ayo: Sometimes Andy just likes to throw everyone for a loop, especially with this season. Season 1 was cool, we touched a lot of generic topics that are like every day conversations in most people’s friend groups but what most people don’t know is that we don’t know the questions beforehand so when you’re watching the show and you see us open the paper and see topics like rape, obesity or suicide it’s like ‘bro what happened to who pays on the first date.’ The questions have gone from just regular everyday topics to questions that really require you to think before you speak.
How do you feel about people that have decided to come out with their own versions of BkChat after yours?
Andy: I think people get it wrong. They think that just because they have a camera and a group of friends then that’s all it takes but it’s way more than that. You have to have quality. I’m not going to say that our quality is the best but we have a standard that we want to maintain and are constantly getting better every day. So if you’re going to do it, then do it right because if you mess up then no one’s going to watch it again. People have been trying since before we even came out but the only difference now is that they have something to look at and aim towards or be better than. Listen do what you’re going to do, we understand that everyone is hustlin’ but just keep our name out of it because it’s trademarked.
Ayo: If you say you’re doing your own BKchat and we decide that we want to do our own U.S. version then game over because once we’re here that’s it!
Have your parents ever seen an episode of BKChat? What’s their opinion on it?
Ayo: Yes, my Mum is a fan. She’s supportive of everything that I do plus I don’t think I’ve ever said anything too controversial on it. As long it’s not her child saying anything crazy then she’s good!
Which cast member would you say normally shares the same opinions as you?
Ayo: This is an interesting question and the funny thing is that it really does change. There are times where I feel that I agree with Wale & Gogo the most, I guess because we are friends outside of the show so we are like-minded, but then there are certain topics where I completely disagree with them.
What is something most viewers would be surprised to learn about you?
Ayo: I think most viewers would be surprised to know that I am extremely shy, no matter how I may come across on camera. I’m a very friendly person but I can be very quiet at times – I’ve been trying to battle it for the longest but I think it’s part of my DNA.
As a DJ, how do you feel about everyone trying to hop on the Afrobeats wave all of a sudden, i.e. Drake and his collaborations with our artists and the constant use of patois in his music:
Ayo: I think it’s nice that music is bringing people together. Music shouldn’t be limited to Americans just working with Americans so it’s nice to see things like the Drake and Wizkid collaboration. It’s a shame he wasn’t in the video because it takes away some of the credibility considering how Wizkid was proper pushing More Life on his instagram so the least he could’ve done was at least send some footage. I felt like that being on tour thing was just a cop out to me.
How do you feel about the disparity between the UK and American Artists; Specifically, the backlash that Giggs received for his features on More Life:
Ayo: I’m not gonna lie and say that was Giggs best verse on More Life. I honestly think Drake went harder than him on that but at the end of the day, Giggs is the Landlord, he’s a bad man. I also thinks it’s really nice that a lot of American youtubers are doing covers and reviews on UK songs as well. Even though some of them are just doing it for the views, I don’t really mind because you’re helping push our music out there so keep em’ coming.
Andy: I agree, I don’t think he went ham on the track but from growing up in the UK, you can’t come to the UK and not talk about Giggs like, he’s the man! I feel like Americans are saying a lot of disrespectful things but they’re generalizing based off of two songs. Your favorite rappers aren’t always going to have the best verse on every song, that happens.
If for some crazy reason you still haven’t seen BKChatLDN, here’s a playlist with all the episodes that they have released.
You can also get familiar with DJ Matthews and some of his mixes on his Soundcloud
Interview was conducted by Léonie N. and Ayo O. of OneTribeMag
All Photography by Ayo O. (Instagram)