Vyvyan Unveiled: Bonar Bradberry (PBR Streetgang) Shines a Light on his Anonymous Moniker

We speak to Bonar Bradberry of PBR Streetgang about his long-anonymous project Vyvyan, who has a new album coming soon on Man Power’s Me Me Me.

13 min
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May 26, 2022
Cameron Holbrook

Mysteriously arriving in 2018 with “a sound that could as easily be from a Baltimore basement or an Illegal rave in Brixton,” the source behind the anonymous moniker Vyvyan has kept underground enthusiasts guessing ever since. In this exclusive interview with Beatportal, Vyvyan is revealing his identity to the world.

Vyvyan is Bonar Bradberry — the widely lauded DJ and producer who makes up one-half of the Leeds duo PBR Streetgang. With his brother in arms Tom Thorpe, PBR Streetgang has traversed the globe with their spot-on arsenal of house and indie disco cuts for over 17 years, earning them an immensely loyal fanbase. In addition to their own KURTZ Records imprint, they’ve released on labels like 2020 Vision, Hot Creations, Skint Records, Wolf Music, Futureboogie, and many more, treating us to fiery hits like “Late Night Party Line” and their remix of David Christie’s “Back Fire.”

As Vyvyan, Bradberry first tested the waters with his anonymous alias on Man Power’s label Me Me Me — Beatport’s Label of the Month — via his remix of Artist Deleted’s “Track Deleted.” With untethered and eclectic rave energy guiding the principles of its sound, his Vyvyan project was quick to gain support amongst hotshot selectors like Metro Area, Roman Flügel, Marco Carola, and more, with further releases like “Source Rocks” and “Coat Bra Pants” getting remix treatments from Paul Woolford and Gerd Janson, respectively.

With a debut album under his Vyvyan moniker on the horizon, Bradberry has lifted the veil to tell us why he’s now chosen to uncover his anonymous alias. He also discusses his relationship with Man Power’s Me Me Me label, the heartfelt dedication behind his new LP, and more.

Check out Vyvyan’s ‘Top 20’ chart on Beatport.
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Hey Bonar, thanks for joining us! How has 2022 been so far? Any highlights?

Thank you, it’s been a great one so far given the two that came before!

Feels like life isn’t on hold anymore. I’ve had a remix out on Tusk Wax of a La Mano tune and a one that just dropped this past week on Sound De Jour with Man 2.0.

As far as highlights I’m really looking forward to playing at Gottwood Festival next month with Man Power b2b as part of the Me Me Me x Gottwax takeover.

How and when did you first dream up your Vyvyan moniker, and what made you decide to keep it anonymous?

It came to life about four or five years ago as an idea. I found I was writing a lot of music that was a departure from things I’d done previously. My style has been fairly eclectic in the past but I wanted to try something that has a more specific focus. I was drawing from influences that were more rough and crude but very visceral and immediate — all the things that excited me about music as a kid basically, I was trying to tap into that initial feeling of joy and wonder I had listening to tape packs and CDs from the ’90s. That said, I didn’t want it to be a pure revivalist, nostalgia kind of thing. It still needed to be focused through the lens of the person I am now and all the experiences that a career (if you can call it that) in electronic music has formed.

The reasons for anonymity came mainly from two places. I don’t think I’m alone in saying my creative process swings between borderline narcissistic confidence and crippling self-doubt, when the two balance each other out you can hope to make something pretty good (there’s probably an amusing meme for it somewhere).

So part of it came from using anonymity as some kind of survival blanket during a period where I was struggling with my self-image, identity, and worth. If the music didn’t have my name on it I felt like I couldn’t be judged directly and that gave me breathing space to continue.

The other part of it was that while I’ve been lucky enough to be releasing music for 15 years now, for better or worse people will always listen to new music from someone in the context of the person’s past work, it’s just a natural thing we all do. I’m not saying that’s a good or bad thing, it’s just what happens, so it will instantly create a bias one way or another before a note has been played.

With this project I wanted it to be listened to with the least prejudice as possible, if that makes sense, to see if it could or would stand up on its own without my past work helping or hindering it.

Why reveal Vyvyan’s identity to the world now?

It just seems like a good time. The project has been going on long enough for it to stand on its own, separate from my other work. But I also just don’t feel much like that person who started the project that wanted to hide away. It feels like that’s just a futile exercise these days and life is just far too short — it’s simply not as big a thing in my head as I was making it out to be! Mystery is for Daft Punk and the Catholic Church…

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How did you first get linked up with Geoff (Man Power) to release on Me Me Me?

Geoff and I had been friends for years through a sort of dysfunctional circuit of DJs, producers, party throwers, and goers in the UK before the label started. So I was very comfortable sharing and swapping music with him. I really admired what he did with his own Man Power project and how he’d gone about things (it was also anonymous initially) so it seemed natural to be talking to him about it. Looking back I think he sort of coaxed me out of my shell a bit to release some of it. I still wasn’t 100 percent sure what I was doing. A lot of it could still be gathering dust if he hadn’t had faith in it too.

What is it about Vyvyan’s sound and overall dance floor ethos that aligns well with the label?

I’m not sure I can confidently speak for the label on why they’ve welcomed me to make a home at the label and nurtured my work so much, but I’m incredibly grateful for it.

I think we share a lot of similar views in how we approach music making or the creation of art of any kind really.

It’s never about profit, reach, or clout with them. It’s purely if this work excites something in you and gives a kind of compulsion to share it with the world.

Tell us about your forthcoming debut album as Vyvyan.

It was made in a relatively short period of time which I think helps add to its continuity, which I feel is vital for any album. I’m not going to stand here and tell you what it’s about that would influence people’s interpretations and as I’ve kind of explained before I’m not really into that — but there is a definite intended narrative.

For the first time, this is going to be a joint release on Me Me Me and Gottwax. The album’s artwork was created by Patrick Duffy (Marske) and inspired by the album’s title, Y. To quote Pat on it, “The imagery for the album is based on the 23 pairs of chromosomes present in every human being.

The album is dedicated to my cousin Ruth who passed away from Covid in 2021 and was the beautiful exception to this rule having 24 pairs of Chromosomes like all other people with Downs Syndrome. Each vinyl copy will have a unique screen printed combination of these pairs, no two copies will be the same. Only 75 copies will ever be pressed and printed.

Vyvyan’s debut album ‘Y’ will arrive in the Summer of 2022 via Me Me Me and Gottwax.

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What are some of your all-time-favorite Me Me Me tracks?

Deo’Jorge – Sparkling Plugs

Well simply, it’s as cool AF! It sounds so slick but in an outsider kind of way, if that makes sense. I also think it’s a record that really shows the breadth of the label’s output. It is just another record that proves its sound can’t really be pigeonholed, which I absolutely love. They say familiarity breeds contempt, and don’t think that’s something they ever have to worry about.

Club Tularosa – Glory (Bleaching Agent Remix)

I’m a big fan of Club Tularosa. I was lucky enough to catch them in the UK at the start of 2020 and they were excellent. And they were all round lovely humans that typify the kind of people that seem to be drawn to release on the label through Geoff. The Bleaching agent remix is particularly good. He has his own distinct sound and I’m really looking forward to hearing more from him.

Markse – He Don’t

For the line “take the piss, take out the bins” it deserves to be included on that alone — Wish I’d written it. But more than that I think it typifies what the label is about with Marske’s work. It has zero focus on commerce and is a pure artistic endeavour, aiming to be as authentic to its creator as it can be.

Vyvyan – Coat Bra Pants

I had to put one of my own in, didn’t I? The label is called Me Me Me after all! If I had to pick something I’ve made so far as Vyvyan that best represents what I’m trying to do, this is definitely close. Also, the fact that Gerd Janson, who I admire hugely, chose to remix this purely because he was into the track and for no other reason than because he had no idea who made it, will always be a proud moment.

Cameron Holbrook is Beatportal’s North American Editor. Find him on Twitter or Instagram.

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