Richmond Born Artists Win Big at South by Southwest

by | Jul 4, 2023 | MUSIC

Richmond serves as a breeding ground for artists of all kinds, and in the modern world, it often isn’t enough to be stellar at one particular thing. The talented people who make up the production company BOOC, and the artists that work with them, have taken this sentiment to heart. A multimedia production company, BOOC founders Chris Scholar and Bevin Anderson are creatives in their purest form, offering their self-trained artistic services and collegiate trained business skills to usher in a new era of independent production outside of the Hollywood studio system. Drew Ashby, Anderson’s brother, and by extension Scholar’s brother-in-law as the pair are married, is just one of those artists. All reared in Richmond, but taking their ideas national regardless of whether they continue to base themselves out of our city or not.

For Lover’s Mixtape by Chris Scholar and Drew Ashby

Drew Ashby is a trumpet player who trained at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, and has been developing his sound as a musician for the last few years since his graduation in 2019. After attempting to find his voice post-graduation in New York, he eventually decided to come back home to Richmond where he started cutting tracks with Scholar and by himself under his own name. A popular release from the duo is the For Lover’s Mixtape, a collection of covers of popular r&b and hip hop tunes. Although New York has a lot to offer, Ashby kept feeling the pull of home, saying “my lease ran out in 2020 and I thought, ‘okay I’ll go back down for a little bit.’ I came down and it gave me the opportunity to get down to some music a little bit. New York City is very fast paced… The energy is always great up there, but I feel like I need to have a station where I can work. A lot of artists are choosing that now… Staying in the home town has been doing wonders for me. I can be in multiple different places without having to sacrifice [my] station.”

Chris Scholar studied mass communications at VCU, but had a history of filming videos while in high school. Cutting his teeth shooting party videos he eventually moved into music videos as he got older. During his college career, he began to have an industry break as Jermaine Dupri featured one of his music videos on his blog, and that same year he dropped out of college, signed to a production company, and moved to LA. While out there he co-wrote a number of popular songs, and found himself almost by accident in a studio with USHER. Scholar did not have much training in how to use all the equipment he was coming into contact with, but attributes his skills to osmosis. “Here I got to be hands-on in the field and learn a lot about production,” said Scholar

Members of BOOC
From left to right: Drew Ashby, Chris Scholar, Bevin Anderson

In his early years Scholar would perform music at toy drives on the south side of town where he started building his musical persona. “It’s extremely hard, because you have to put time and effort into everything you do. The music is where it all started… but it came from necessity to shoot music videos… and not having a team around me, so I had to learn.” The filming at this stage was incredibly rinky-dink, with Scholar regaling me with how his father used to help him make dollies out of old wood. 

Bevin Anderson studied mass communications public relations at VCU and graduated in 2013. After spending years in Richmond after graduation she also decided to move to Los Angeles in 2016. She teamed up with Scholar who had been out there for about a year, “I was like [Chris’] bag girl,” said Anderson. With no formal training, they both had to learn on the job, with Anderson saying, “every job elevated to something else, and we really learned in the field… It was all acquired as we went along.” Realizing that they could have all their skills under one umbrella they eventually started BOOC with Scholar taking up the artistic side, and Anderson handling the business and logistics. Their intention was to create a one stop shop for other creatives who need collaborators, with Anderson saying, “we’re full service from the perspective of film, animation, editing and directing. Music composition as well. That’s where the collaboration with Drew came in.”

Drew Ashby – Her (Official Video)

Ashby had a song, later named “HER”, that he had been working on since living in New York, and after finally laying it down in the studio, he sent it off to his sister and brother-in-law. “I made everything on that joint, with some help from my Dad, but that was my first dive into producing something that I liked,” said Ashby. Anderson and Scholar fell in love with the track and insisted that Ashby come out to LA to shoot a music video with them. Principal shooting began in 2020, and the video sat in post-production for a year before wrapping up in 2021. They submitted the video to South By Southwest where it ended up winning the Audience Award for Music Videos at the 2023 festival.

The video tells a simple and beautiful story of love, something that was central to Ashby’s life at that point. Scholar said, “we attempted to make where we were filming look a bit like NYC, and we were trying to tie it into what his life was like when he wrote the song. He was busking in the subway at that point.” Ashby spoke about how he was inspired by Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blues and that intentionally included multiple references to the film. Scholar and Anderson did speak to how it was a bit of a different speed for them, with Scholar saying, “for me it was different, we were used to doing hip-hop, r&b.” Anderson added with a laugh, “or even just things with words.”

Scholar admitted to not having a plan, but Ashby trusted his family saying, “I’m not a professional [at visuals] y’all are the professionals… I just made the music.”  Though a startup production house right now, BOOC has a lot of projects under its belt, with a feature score, numerous music videos, and even a couple artists signed to their label. It is, how Scholar puts it, “a family affair here man.” They have a number of other projects coming down the line, with Scholar and Ashby releasing a second For Lover’s Mixtape. Ashby additionally has his own EP called South that he is hoping to release soon, and that’s just what we had time to talk about. BOOC is on the rise, Ashby is a Richmond based artist to watch, and Anderson and Scholar, though no longer Richmond based, are Richmond born and haven’t forgotten their home turf.

Photos courtesy of BOOC

Andrew Bonieskie

Andrew Bonieskie

But you may call me Bones. I'm the Associate Editor of RVA Mag, and a writer and musician living in Richmond, Virginia. After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in music and a minor in creative writing I have gone on to score feature and short films, released a book of poetry, an album of original music, and perform lead vocals with the band Pebbles Palace.

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