by Matt Conner
It began with boredom.
Gawvi’s musical pursuits are plentiful these days, but as he traces his backstory, it begins with a search for something to do—a pastor’s kid stuck inside an empty church waiting for another adults-only meeting to end.
With hours to kill, the musical instruments left in the sanctuary between Sundays became an outlet for the Reach Records artist and producer. “I picked up the piano and drums a bit. I fell in love and started playing with the worship team,” says Gawvi. “One thing led to another in music and I couldn’t run away from it.”
It wasn’t long until Gawvi began to write and record his own music. As a freshman in high school, Gawvi found his first audio software in FruityLoops. By age 14, he was producing everything for South Florida hip-hop trio Rhema Soul. The early production experience and international influences from being raised in Miami gave Gawvi a rich palette from which to paint.
His early hip-hop production connected him with a young rapper named Lecrae. Gawvi produced eight tracks for Lecrae’s Rebel album, an opportunity that gave way to becoming in-house producer for Reach Records. From there, Gawvi was regularly collaborating with Trip Lee, KB, Derek Minor Andy Mineo and, of course, Lecrae
These days, Gawvi’s interests have positioned him as more artist than producer. Panorama is his latest solo release, a dynamic album filled with compelling beats, global ideas and impressive guests. “The more I’ve become an artist, the more I’ve pushed away from producing for other people. I want to focus on my own brand and music.”
The transition to solo artist has allowed Gawvi to make his own artistic statements instead of serving the songs of others. While he enjoys the opportunities to produce, Gawvi’s own albums have allowed songs like “With You” to reach fans in meaningful ways. It’s a vulnerable even emotional song born out of some of the artist’s own darkest mental moments.
“It was one of the hardest songs to write,” he says. “I was in the studio with a bunch of tears and I had to grab a lot of emotions I just didn’t want to visit again. At the end of last year, I was on the Air1 radio tour, which was a great experience, but in the middle of it, a childhood best friend passed away. Everything happened so quick that I didn’t have time to get up and leave for the funeral, which I regret to this day. That hit me hard being tour.
“Being away from my family for a month and a half was also super hard,” he continues. “During that time I also doubted myself and felt like Reach didn’t believe in me. It was just a battle for my mind … A lot of people are saying they’re depressed and have suicidal thoughts these days, and it’s becoming a normal thing. I felt it was important for me to give a song saying I’m depressed, too, but I’m also here with you through it. We can work things out toward a different end.”