Vibbar is the multidisciplinary collective that’s shaping the future of culture and championing new talent. Formed by Poet more than two years ago, the group is home to a band of creatives across the disciplines of music, style, photography, art and more – and 2020 is theirs for the taking.
The group’s latest drop – ‘At Home Freestyle’ – is a collaboration with Sam Wise from House of Pharaohs and the video was filmed at the recent pop-up ‘atHOME’ space in Boxpark, which was created by Vibbar in collaboration with J2K. For the shoot, PUMA hooked up the collective with drops from all-new RSX-3 Level Up release. It’s a sneaker that’s inspired by creativity and is one of the most colourful drops of the year – making it a sick fit for atHOME’s vibrant interior.
After the video shoot and ahead of their sold out London show this weekend, Complex spoke to Poet to chop it up about the journey Vibbar has been on so far, what the group has planned for 2020, and why partnerships with J2K and PUMA mean so much to a group on the rise.
PUMA RSX-3 Level Up is available now at size?, PUMA stores and selected retailers.
COMPLEX: It’s about two years since Vibbar announced itself to the world. What was the story behind the group and how have you rated your progress in that time?
Poet: Vibbar is a really weird one in terms of how we started. We were in a bar and there was a guy called Joel Baker that was performing and Joel is a really talented artist – I think I had a Patta tracksuit on with a matching hat, so I was feeling fly, and I was really happy to see Joel Baker performing but no one was really listening to him. I was with Jordy and he was disappointed as well and we looked at this amazing talent on stage but people were just talking over him. I watched Joel and I said ‘you know what, we should be upset with ourselves because we know the people that would like to hear Joel Baker perform but we’ve never put on a show!’. I said I’m doing it! Everyone thought I was joking but I booked the venue and told them I had a group of artists that I think are incredible and deserve to be heard – and it was just meant to be one night. But because all the artists and the different types of creatives there – whether they’re photographers or producers or whatever – came together, and it was such an enjoyable journey, we carried on and called it Vibbar, which is ‘vibes’ in Swedish. The Sweden influence was the fact that I fell in love with a girl from there – I now have two beautiful boys – but at the time Sweden always gave me such good vibes that I felt like I needed to pay homage to that. That’s how it all started.
You’ve been pretty unique in bringing together a multidisciplinary group of talented people and since that time you’ve dropped tracks, mixtapes, artwork, product collaborations...it’s a lot going on! Is it ever difficult to keep everyone on the same page when there’s so much happening from so many different angles?
Bro...I’ll be honest with you, we’re nowhere near being big we’re just really happy that people actually care about the things we do. It’s very difficult to have that many personalities in one group, when everyone has their own agenda and things they want in life, and sometimes it is difficult to keep everything in balance.
It’s almost like we’re all going to the same destination but one person is on a train, one person in on a bus, one person is on a bike and so on...and everyone just thinks their journey is so much better! The vibe we try to create is ‘I respect your journey, you respect mine, we’re all in this together, let’s keep it moving’ – and on occasion some people have left the group because I feel the way they’ve looked at it hasn’t been right. With Vibbar, you need a clean heart and you need to be a good person – we try and cut out any negative energy and I think that’s why we’re beginning to make stuff happen...I mean I’m just gassed to be even talking to you lot about this! I never would have imagined any of this stuff could be happening…
You guys linked up with PUMA and J2K to shoot the 'At Home Freestyle'. What was the process behind the video and that partnership?
This is the second project we’ve done with J2K and the atHOME space we created was just too dope! How could you not shoot something in there?! It was one of my proudest achievements and I wanted something to remember it by – and the way I remember most of the big moments in my life is YouTube! So we decided to go and create an old school freestyle track in there where we just move from room to room. The inspiration was very organic and came from the environment – it was Jordy’s idea and we also got Sam Wise from House of Pharaohs to bring a whole different vibe to it. Everyone picked a room from the atHOME space they’ve vibed with most and did their bit in there...mine was the kitchen because I was never allowed into the kitchen when I was younger.
Is this a track that’s set to lead to a bigger project?
Yeah it’s going to be off the new project that we want to put out early next year – it’s going to be a two-sided project called SSAW, which is an acronym for spring, summer, autumn, winter. We felt that if we made a project that lasted a year, people can have it for all of 2020 and it’s inspired by Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. It’s going to have seven tracks on both sides and it’s exciting. This freestyle is something that lets people know we’ve improved lyrically and to let people know about the opportunities we’re getting. It’s all mad.
You were wearing the new RSX-3 Level Up sneaker for the shoot. What was it like to step out in those for the first time?
The shoe is lit because there’s so much colour variation and because each room in the space had a different type of colour, it worked really well and added to the entire vibe. Also the trainer is mad comfortable so when you’re wearing it all day for a shoot it doesn’t feel like your toes are mad crunched at the front or anything like that – PUMA kicks always come to correct in that way.
The shoe has been created to represent the idea of reinvention – PUMA broke down the original RSX and took it to a new place. As someone who is naturally versatile and has reinvented themselves in different creative lanes at different times, have you always wanted to push yourself in different directions?
100%, bro. One of the best periods in my life was secondary school because I tried so many different things and I had to express myself in different ways. I realised that our normal route is basically studying 11 subjects in school, then three at college, one at uni and then you’re basically expected to stick with that your whole life?!
That’s not fun! What I started doing from a pretty early age keeping busy in lots of different ways. I don’t even just do one thing with Vibbar...I do vocals, production, directing, presenting. It does remind me a bit of school because I’m doing different things every single day and that’s what makes me happy. Someone like J2K is the best example of that for me...
You mentioned it’s the second time you’ve linked up with J2K via Vibbar. Is he someone you look to for inspiration in how he’s moved between different creative lanes?
Without sounding too corny, J2K is one of the most important people in my life and he always will be. He’s inspirational, he’s hard-working, he’s creative, he’s loyal...he just has loads of qualities that I feel very lucky to be around. I cherish every moment that I’m with him and I try to learn from him as best I can. To collaborate with him – to know that a legend in this game trusts me – is huge, I don’t even get what’s happening! I genuinely appreciate J2K collaborating with us and atHOME is so sick...when you see what they’re going to do in the next few years, it’s going to revolutionise the way we all work.
You personally have a pretty strong back catalogue of projects with PUMA now, including the football you and Yinka dropped last year. Why is the brand such a good fit for you and the way you work?
As a creative, the one thing you have is your art. PUMA ask me what I want to do and they’re response is always ‘oh sick, how can we help to make this better?’ – which is so sick, other brands don’t do that. They’re very human in their approach and I feel like they genuinely care.
Like even with the football boot, I used to watch this growing up! How can they give me a responsibility to create a football boot that’s going to be worn by Hector Bellerin?! They know how much I love this stuff and for them to trust me enough to make contributions is something I’ll never forget. PUMA will never truly know what that does for me.
PUMA RSX-3 Level Up is available now at size?, PUMA stores and selected retailers.