HomeInterviewsHappy Mondays Interview Series: Drewsie

Happy Mondays Interview Series: Drewsie

Photo Credit: Kenny Bieber

Drewsie first blew this writer’s mind when he was part of Black Suburbia Music Group. They took the stage and left an indelible mark with their talent, charisma, and passion for their craft. Despite a new stage name, new take on music, and living in a brand new scene — Drewsie remains is still the same wildly talented, charismatic and passionate artists out there.

Normally, we don’t comment on the content of an interview in the introduction, but Drewsie’s response to our questions about the Asbury music scene and hip-hop and R&B’s place in it, is some of the most honest and refreshing takes we’ve heard in a long time.

Recently, we caught up with Drewsie to talk about his thoughts on the Asbury Park music scene and hip-hop and R&B’s place in it, the importance of nights on Happy Mondays and his new music.

Year I Began Performing: 2003

I’m Based Out of: Formerly, Monmouth County. County

Musicians Performing with Me Live Is (Band Members & Instruments They Play): Ryan Mcshae (Keyboard, Guitar), Toph Stevenson (Co-Producer, Keys), Frank Calabrese Jr (Drums), Kyle Bandilla (Co-Producer, Auxiliary Sounds), Andrew Wilson (Bass, Bass Synth), Greg Warren (Guitar), and Herm Nicolas (Bass).

My Sound Has Been Likened To: Maxwell, The Weeknd

You’ve Seen Me in Other Bands/Groups Such As: Drew The Recluse, Black Suburbia Music Group

Many in the scene know you as Drew the Recluse — can you talk about the name change and does that signify a different approach to music, or a new chapter in your musical career?

I got a little older. I got a little wiser. I also wanted something that had kind of been with me my whole life and being a recluse has never really been who I am. My whole family calls me Drewsie, so I went with it.

When I first heard you it was with Black Suburbia Music Group, who absolutely blew me away when you all performed at the Asbury Park Music Awards. I haven’t seen that name on the scene in a minute — is this outfit done or is there shows/music on the horizon?

Black Suburbia is dead. Some of it was partly due to growth. Parts of it were due to in-house stuff that isn’t really my place to speak on. I’ll just leave it at that. Obviously, it is all love at the end of the day, as many of those people are my ACTUAL family. Blood relations. But we’ve all settled in new places with new dreams, goals and desires.

In our offline conversation you mentioned new music that would be debuted at this show. Can you tell us a little bit about the new music? How does it differ from your previous works?

I’ve been working on new music as Drewsie since the end of 2019. The music now is what I’ve always wanted to make. It’s colorful. It’s fun. It’s more mature. It’s warm. I think this is in part because I just grew out of my previous artistic ventures and musical themes. Being 30 will do that to you. I love hip-hop, I love rap, I love pop music. It’s so fun to write. So fun to perform. I met so many great people in that space. I met some long time collaborators too.

Great example, MixedByRey has been my engineer since 2017 when we were selling out The Saint monthly. But it was so hard to thrive in a space that I felt never really cares for me. I never attracted the audience that music was made for. I kept trying to appeal to those who weren’t about me being in that space. And when you are in your early 20s, that can really fucking kill your vibe. It can kill all ambition. But I fell in love with my best friend. I worked on the front lines during the pandemic. I went on a hiatus. Moved to Philadelphia in 2022. And I grew out of the lifestyle that music spoke about. Now here I am with a great band. It’s a new chapter.

Let’s talk about the lyrical content of your music. What subjects are you covering, and what artists writing styles have influenced your style?

I am covering all aspects of love. The peace. The conflict. Lately, I don’t really have someone’s writing style per-say. I think my style is my own.

How important is it for a show like Happy Mondays to exist in Asbury Park, especially when so many original venues are dwindling in the scene?

I think Happy Monday’s provides artist in Asbury with a chance to evolve their craft theatrically. I think new acts lack stage presence. They lack charisma. And the death of original venues only furthers that. Everything is a learning experience, and I think the more music sanctuaries we lose, it’s as damaging as lack of funding for the arts in schools.

One thing you’ve discussed with Pop Break, and groups like Garden State Hip-Hop have spoken about in the past has been the lack of opportunities for hip-hop and R&B performers in the Asbury Park scene. Do you feel this has changed since we last spoke, which was pre-COVID? Who are some people within the hip-hop and R&B scene in this area (besides yourself), that you’d like more people to pay attention to?

I mean, maybe I can’t speak too much on this anymore especially because I no longer am so close to the community due distance. But this is something I was passionate about. So when I am asked this question or discuss it with others, that passion is re-vitalized.

To answer it the question. it hasn’t. I mean, think about it? The last time there was an Asbury Park Music Awards was “pre-any-notion-of-a-pandemic” back in 2018. And, funny (ironically) enough, it was when we performed and the masses gave us all ears. That isn’t me shitting on an opportunity given to me. You stay grateful and you put your all into everything. You remain professional. But it almost felt like we, The Black Suburbia Music Group, the Hip-Hop Scene, killed the Asbury Music Awards for anyone trying to get recognized now. I mean, the moment a Hip-Hop category was promised to be at the following year’s award show. A show that by the way, never came and the pandemic only solidified that death and engraved the tombstone.

Also, how can hip-hop and R&B thrive if the only large, internationally known hip-hop or R&B acts booked in the area are only done once every six-to-eights months? And most of the time, it’s not a relevant artist or it’s not someone timeless enough to be known by multiple generations. R&B has been mostly reduced to cover bands. I can’t tell you the amount of times someone has told me, “Have you ever considered a Bruno Mars song as part of your setlist?” Specifically, the song “24K Magic.”

Until the day someone from my generation has a real voice in the community and isn’t just being paraded around as just a “microphone,” The Asbury Community will just be same old, same old, leaving it further and further exposed to a level of gentrification that only makes the gatekeeping worse. With all that being said, not everything is bleak. I’ve met some great people who want to see a bright future of the community. I am happy to see an artist like Action Bronson is booked to perform on the Sea Hear Now stage. I mean, I love F*ck That’s Delicious.

I also don’t really have anyone on the local side to co-sign. Not that I think a co-sign by me wound matter too much. Those that I would are doing it, and doing it well. They live by and display the humbleness and love and receive it in return. I see them booked. I see them busy.

Others, well, let’s just say this. You live and you learn and you are the company you keep. If you aren’t getting the answers you seek, check your company, take some time to dwell, and ask different questions. I could name drop more people here than co-sign people. And it’s a shame, cause I love the music these people put out, but how they operate. It’s a virus that has greatly affected the modern hip-hop / R&B community in New Jersey. A lot of people don’t know that we, as a possible antidote to all that wack stuff, were not welcomed by the rappers in Asbury community. We faced a lot of opposition from those in our own genre. Many were not please with us being able to gate-keep the community. They saw is as “Outsiders” and has no knowledge of my families history to Asbury Park. The family I had there. The stories I have from my childhood hanging out there long before the town started its resurgence.

For those who’ve never seen Drewsie before — what can they expect from your live show?

So we are here to primary entertain and get you to dance. We want people to have fun and leave with a smile on their faces and a tune in their head.

Outside of Happy Mondays — any other shows on the horizon?

Nothing yet. Taking it step by step really.

What do you love about performing?

Honestly, I love the adrenaline rush of it. Stage is always great cause you learn how to accept the flaws. The flaws make the show. Most of the time, the audience has no idea.

You’re a big pop culture buff — any shows and/or films you’d like to recommend to our readers?

Honestly, Ava DuVernay’s Origin. Loved every minute of it! Best to go into it as blind as possible! I knew of the significance of its subject matter long before the film was in production, but to see it told in a way for the masses to understand, it is powerful what DuVernay was able to achieve.

Finally, what’s on the horizon for the Drewsie that you’re most excited about?

Honestly, I’ve been trying to get a short film made and branch into a directing / screenwriting era in my life. I’ve always wanted to make movies since I was a kid. I have some things in early very Pre-Production phase now so it’s only a matter of time.

Drewsie performs at Happy Mondays tonight along with Sophie Swanson and Pepperwine. 

Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.

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