BVDLVD: “It’s a beautiful thing when you crack a troll”

A trap-metal prodigy he may be, but Josh Pearman stands for more than unadulterated chaos. Meet the mind behind the troll-busting, face-melting phenomenon that is BVDLVD…

BVDLVD: “It’s a beautiful thing when you crack a troll”
Jake Richardson

“I pulled out my Nintendo 3DS the other day and found videos on there of me in my old form room at school filming vlogs, and everyone in the background is just like, ‘Fuck off, Josh.’”

Josh Pearman is someone who, in his own words, has “always been willing to give something a go”. Be it vlogging way before it was cool, or dabbling in photography, videography and graphic design, he pursued many different creative avenues as a teenager. But there was one that eluded him for a while.

“I never intended to become a musician,” he admits. “I don’t think I necessarily had the skill or talent for it…”

Flash-forward a few years – and it is just a few, Josh is now only 22 – and that talent has well and truly emerged. Under the moniker BVDLVD (that’s 'Badlad', FYI), he has released three full-length albums, with a barnstorming fourth titled ABSENCE set to drop September 29 via Earache. Building his name in a long-underground trap scene that is now infiltrating the mainstream at pace, BVDLVD’s music is rooted in hip-hop but contains more than enough aggression to satisfy many a rock fan. That unbridled energy and penchant for chaos has led to Josh racking up streams well into the millions, meaning that the kid from Oxford who used to get bullied for wanting to be a rapper now has to reconcile with the fact that his musical alias has granted him a certain level of influence.

It’s not something he sought out, but BVDLVD is determined that, particularly in a world that exists chronically online for so many young people, the persona he’s built for himself is one that be used for more than just music.

“You have the power to affect people, so how are you going to affect them?” is how Josh summarises his approach to artistry and influence. “BVDLVD is where I channel the extroverted side of my personality, and at the beginning I was very much like, ‘Oh, this is my crazy side,’ and that was kind of it. But now I view it differently, because there’s people watching, and I understand how I can influence others – this isn’t just a game anymore.”

BVDLVD demonstrated that maturity through his participation in the YouTube Originals documentary Terms And Conditions: Deeper Than Drill. His interactions with an online troll went viral on TikTok, becoming a fine example of love triumphing over hate, as Josh forged a connection with someone who was giving him abuse by reaching out and trying to understand the motivations of someone seemingly consumed by anger.

“It’s a beautiful thing when you crack a troll,” Josh smiles. “There have been times where I’ve found out shit about people they’ve never told anyone else, and they end up feeling better for it and realise they were being stupid with the trolling. A lot of the time, there’s a reason why people are acting out in that way.”

That mature philosophical outlook is increasingly being mirrored in BVDLVD’s music, none more so than on ABSENCE. Building on the aggressive trap on which he’s made his name, Josh has dialled up the experimentation, broadened his horizons and focussed on the deeper meaning of his songs, rather than their ability to go as hard as possible. It’s proving to be a fulfilling way in which to create.

“The earlier stuff was like, ‘Okay, let’s make the most impactful, loud-as-fuck drop ever.’ Now I’m trying to delve more into heartfelt shit that moves people. There’s a song on the record called NUMB, for instance, where I’m really trying something different and going away from the obnoxiously loud, spike-your-dopamine thing. I’m trying to find a hard sound that isn’t just blasting your face.”

That’s not to say BVDLVD has lost his edge on ABSENCE. Take the frenetic PANIC ATTACK, the most accurate musical representation of raging anxiety you’ll hear all year, or the nu-metal-leaning PRISON, where he goes full-on mosher and delivers a kick to the guts fit for the craziest of pits. It’s a sound BVDLVD is more than comfortable dealing in.

“I think there’s so much room to explore in the heavier stuff,” Josh says. “I regret not hitting it more often in the past, but it took me some time to understand it, and I don’t want to mess around with the metal lot – I want to make the music as good as it can be. I’m not a metalhead and I’m not going to pretend like I am, but I fuck with metal, so I want to impress the diehards.”

As for more immediate plans, Josh seems to have everything pretty locked. There’s a UK tour in November to celebrate the album release – a mix of headliners and support to Kxllswxtch – while he also confirms that ABSENCE’s follow-up is already in the can and will see him hone his sound further still. It’s all about progression, and BVDLVD is determined to keep making strides to push this as far as it can go.

“I’m ready to redefine what BVDLVD is,” Josh concludes. “I want to curate my sound further. I dropped an album in 2020 which was called Lunatic because everything on it was fucking mental, but it’s time to define things more now.”

Further refining a sound that’s made him one of the UK’s most exciting and innovative new artists? That plan doesn’t sound half BVD.

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