The swift rise of notorious Yorkshire entertainers Bad Boy Chiller Crew is a fascinating feat seldom seen in today’s landscape. As a trio, members Clive, Gareth Kelly and Kane started out making comedy skits, prank videos and lad banter viral clips much in the vein of Dirty Sanchez or Jackass – complete with a recurring fictional cast to create an exaggerated yet honest portrayal of their native Bradford. Their jokes about Northern living are at the same time a celebration, so it’s no wonder they’ve been embraced by the city’s communities to the point of making endorsement videos for local businesses. Generating a tangible level of buzz through social media, they embarked on a musical endeavour which began with no expectations and now involves management, labels, multi-million views on videos and a national tour on the horizon.
Their biggest hit, “450” ft. S-Dog, is a vocal niche/bassline house anthem drenched in the heritage this genre holds across certain Northern UK towns – a sound that still resounds here long after its most famous moments have passed. And it’s struck a chord. BBCC went from stocking their first CD through vape shops to reshaping into a more professional outfit (as far as the music’s concerned – the skits remain as messy and mischievous as ever) and releasing last year’s Full Wack No Brakes mixtape to good reception. With new music due soon, the trio and their manager Dr. Google open up about their origin story, lockdown living and what becoming local celebrities has meant for them.
How did you guys get to know each other? Where does the story start?
Gareth Kelly: “These two knew each other from school innit, these are from the same area. I were from the other side of Bradford. I were doing comedy videos like years ago, then I stopped doing it, got into DJing, then these started doing it. I noticed in my mind and I were like, it brought a spark back to when I used do it. So I messaged ’em, hooked up with ’em and yeah, we just collabed and then become friends and that were it – the rollercoaster started.”
So Kane and Clive, you knew each other from school – at what point did you guys start working together and decide to create stuff?
Kane: “When were it? About…”
GK: “Obviously they just met up with each other after a bit and just started acting radge online. Just like little pranks, skits–”
Kane: “Oh yeah, we were doin’ daft videos and that. It were weeks before we got together [with GK], it wasn’t like we were doin’ it for ages or owt, d’you know what I mean?”
This must have been just a few years ago, really recently then?
Dr. Google: “2018.”
Kane: “Yeah about three year ago.”
GK: “Yeah ‘cuz you lot started int summer and I come in September, just before winter, and then we started collabin’. Obviously I were a DJ as well innit, so I got us doin’ sets and stuff like that, you know?”
DG: “As well as the videos.”
What kind of stuff were you playing at the time?
GK: “I were playing bassline, I were playing the sort of stuff that we’re MCing over to now. But I were in charge of people’s sets and stuff, I like, run the bookings and stuff like that etc. so yeah. So I were DJing, and acting, fuckin’ doing daft videos with these, and obviously what happened then is Kane – ‘cuz Kane’s been doing music since he were young, from school, he were like, “let’s try do a tune,” and I were like fuckin’ hell mate I can’t MC, and he said, “let’s try it.” And then we did the tune and it did very well, so we were like we can’t not do another. So we were trying to do a few joke tracks, a few serious tracks, and the tunes just started blowin’. We were doing music videos with ’em as well, so people have known us for music and it’s just – we’re like an all-round entertainment package sort of thing. People wouldn’t know if we were serious, if we were fuckin’ jokin’, if we were just divvies, if we were this… It were pretty mad really.”
How do you feel about sort of being split across? There’s the videos, the skits, the comedy elements, the very visual stuff. And then obviously there’s the music as well. Do you feel those two sides of you have a good relationship with each other, or do you find that some people like one thing more than the other?
GK: “Well, no, because it’s more the music but if it wasn’t for the videos giving it the boost, I don’t think the music would be where it is. And we get fun – music’s very serious and intense, the comedy and the videos, it’s just all laughs, d’you understand? It balances it out, and it’s what we’re known for, we don’t wanna ditch one side and leave the other. There’s not many people that do it and that’s why people like us, because you don’t know what you’re gonna get from us next.”
Kane: “We’re a package innit, you wouldn’t be able to do it without each other, you get what I’m sayin’? It’s like, if he–”
GK: “If I died!” [laughs]
Kane: “We bounce off each other, you can’t not. He [GK] is a character, he could do it by himself but like we bounce off each other, you know what I mean?”
GK: “We all class ourselves as equals in the group but we’ve all got our weird specialities.”
Kane: “We all play a part.”
What would you say everyone’s speciality is?
GK: “Well I’ve got gift of gab, the upfrontness. He [Clive] is the fuckin’, absolute radgest, and he [Kane] is the music man, get me?”
Kane, I gotta ask – so you were saying the music in high school, what kind of music were you making at the time?
Kane: “It were like grime mate, but I did it when I were young yeah, like school. But I stopped doin’ it, I just fucked it off. When we started doin’ videos, I forgot about the music like it were nowt. I were listenin’ to bassline songs, so I stopped even listenin’ to that music. I used to listen to that at school but I liked the grime as well, but then I just stopped doin’ it. When we were doin’ videos it were like oh, should we do a tune? We did like a comedy song, we did the comedy song first then we were like let’s make a proper tune.”
GK: “I think Kane wanted to see how we were with a tune, and ’cause he’s seen me do the jokes side, he’s like, hold on, I think we can adjust and come on let’s try do somethin’ proper. Half thinkin’ it were gonna be proper, half thinkin’ let’s just give it a go anyway, we’ve nowt to lose, let’s just see how it goes. And yeah, it worked. That were it, and it just got better and better and fuckin’, the lyrics, the tunes, we’ve found a sound now. When we go to the studio, we know what structure to get made.”
What is the process when you’re putting a tune together? Kane’s been MCing, when did you guys start MCing? Who’s producing the tunes?
GK: “So at first we were just usin’ old bassline tunes that are already fuckin’ out there. After it got serious, it were like shit, we need us own tunes now ‘cuz the tunes won’t go anywhere ’cause they’re copyrighted. I reached out to RKSwitch who did “450”, who did one of the joke tracks. Then Kane got a guy called klubluv from Ireland, who got in touch with Kane, he did quite a lot of the first EP and then my mate Johnny, who’s TACTICS, obviously I know him from DJing and that. He gave me my first set when I first started DJing and stuff and I said to Kane, I said look, there’s this guy, his music’s fuckin’ shit-hot. Took Kane to his studio and just from there, let them do the thing and that were it. He knows what we like.”
Kane: “I’m ont phone, I message him all day everyday. It’ll just be voice notes, you know what I mean? When we do a tune, he might make four beats before we find a good one, d’you know what I mean? Well before he’d do like four tunes and we’d find that perfect one. But now, ’cause we know what we like, and we found a sound, every song he does it’s just boom, that’s the next hit. He’s just too sick mate. Obviously he hasn’t even gone out there but I think he’s gonna go massive, me. ‘Cause he’s gonna do his own stuff. I think he’ll do bigger than us, I think he’ll be like a fuckin’ Calvin Harris or summat. Them songs that he makes, they’re shit-hot. He just hasn’t got a platform yet – he’s still getting booked, people love him, d’you know what I mean?”
So he sends you a tune, where’s the first place – do you guys listen to it together? Is there a place you listen to it?
Kane: “I’ll get the tune, I’ll have it on my [phone], soon as I get it I’ll just listen to it. It depends, I sort it all out with him, d’you get what I’m saying? These two are busy doing other stuff, I sort the music. So when it comes, I’ll get it, and then I’ll either write a hook or a verse, and he’s already left space for them so they can write their verse. So I’ll just do it, and just, here, look, I’ve got that, boom, and if they like it they’ll just write the verse on it.”
So where are you guys writing your verses, when you hear the tune? Do you have bars you’re making in your head all the time or do you sit down and…
Kane: “Write ’em on my phone. D’ you know what it is, I used to have to think of it, but now because I’ve been doing it every day, it’s like I’ll just hear the beat and if I wanna write summat to it, I can write summat to it. I might sit there mate, and it might take me nine hours to do a tune, get it perfect, you just gotta push through it.”
What were your favourite tunes growing up?
Kane: “I used to listen to niche, and I used to listen grime.”
Who were your favourite artists?
GK: “We’re very open-minded with music, even to what we listen to now–”
Kane: “D’you know what it is with me, mate? I like everything, I could sit here now and listen to S-Club 7, d’you know what I mean? If it sounds good, it doesn’t matter… I don’t know, it’s weird, I don’t really have any favourites, I used to listen to everything. If I like it, I don’t like the artist, I like the song. That’s why when we’re doing a song, if we don’t think a song’s good, we’ll just scrap it. If we don’t think it’s there, we’ll just get rid of it. When we write bars as well. You know MCs? MCs will write bars and freestyle and this and that. We don’t do any of that, we just make music. When I’m writing, I’m writing to make a song. If someone said to me now, drop a bar, I’d have to do something from a song. I just don’t do it like that, it’s weird. We didn’t do no freestyles, we’ve just been making songs. We don’t ever sit round and MC, to beats or like… I’ve done that. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. When I were young, that’s what we used to do. But now it’s more like, we’re just making songs. It’s like work – but we still like doin’ it.” [Opens a can of Coke]
GK: “Full-fat Coke.”
What’s a perfect night for you guys?
GK: “We haven’t got a fuckin’ perfect night, ‘cuz we’re together all the time innit.”
Kane: “Every night’s a different night, we don’t have no pattern or nowt, we’re livin’ day-to-day. We’re just wakin’ up doin’ what the fuck we want. I’ve smoked about five joints this mornin’. I can’t even speak. It’s the lockdown, there’s nowt to do. If we were busy… D’you know what it is? Mate, obviously this lockdown stuff, we’ve done the same thing for three years mate. We’ve been in and out of work. We’ve been makin’ money, from this. Not a lot of money, not even like a wage, but we were doin’ the videos for like a year living off each other, borrowin’ off each other, this and that. He [Dr. Google] sold his fuckin’ flat in Belarus just to pay for it, but we’ve been dossin’ for three year mate. We haven’t been active, and this lockdown mate, it’s drivin’ everyone fuckin; mad. We wanna go do stuff.”
GK: “I think once we get on tour–”
Clive: “Yeah, I reckon that’s it, once we get out on road–”
DG: “Get out on road and actually perform to everybody that’s wanting to see us. Only thing that the people do is just see us online, doing comedy videos and crazy – they wanna see that live and in action because it’s not gonna be like watching any other band you’ll see perform at a festival or owt because they’re absolutely fuckin’ mental, so I think it’ll just go off. And this is just that start innit, right? This is literally the first year out on the scene, should’ve been last year but obviously we’ve been caged like dogs, but I don’t think anybody’s seen what they’re gonna get from these radgies there, sat in front of yer.”
Kane: “That were a bit of waffle, weren’t it?” [laughs]
I was gonna say, like COVID is bad for pretty much everyone but you guys were blowing up right at the time when COVID hit, what’s that been like?
GK: “It’s been like internet fame, innit? Until we get on stage and see all these… I don’t think it’s gonna hit us until then. It’s just like seein’ numbers, you don’t really see groups of people because it’s lockdown. So we hadn’t had that proper hit of like, fuckin’… You know? Last gig we did man, we played to about fuckin’ 40 people and 20 of them were staff.”
DG: “You remember it?!” [laughs]
GK: “Going from that to playin’ festivals is gonna be a bit intense.”
Another thing about you guys gaining this popularity, even if it is online – obviously what you guys have been doing, Bradford has been very central to it. But now you’ve got a lot of people from outside looking in. You’ve got people whose own experiences aren’t necessarily like yours looking in as well. Are you aware of that? What’s that feel like?
GK: “We’ve got an audience of fuckin’, as far as Australia, we’ve got massive fans in Canada, Sweden, places like Norway, Belarus, Russia, and it’s like wow, because Bradford in its own little place, it’s a very different-cultured, mad place. We’ve tried to take all the culture of Bradford and push it to the world, including the estate life, the rally, the cars, the fields, the fuckin’ horses, the gold, the branded clothing, you know… Bradford’s never kept up with the times, it’s been a time that’s been locked in back in the day sort of thing. We’ve just took that tradition on, you get what I mean?”
How much are you getting out of Bradford?
GK: “It’s hard for us now, because we’re just three fuckin’ lads off the estate. It’s just everyone else… We haven’t changed, it’s how people look at you, they change. We’re just the same, it’s just the people ‘round us that look at you and think automatically this and that, they don’t know the mental health and the stress and stuff that comes with it. Going back into Bradford is hard, we get hounded.”
Kane: “People knockin’ on my door and that mate, d’you know what I mean? Fuck that. All our family and friends are there but it’s like fuck me, if you’re not happy there, you gotta go. Need to get away from there ‘cuz you’ll end up getting in trouble. We were gettin’ in trouble over there, you need to get out of there and start fresh. Everyone else is doing the same stuff, it’s just us that are doing different. You don’t think it ’til you’re there but you can’t stay in that same place, you need to go. Unless you’re the type of person that likes all that. That likes being that big celebrity. We’re not on that. I don’t like that, I don’t even go into the shop, I’ll ask my mate to get summat from shop for me, d’you know what I mean? Morrison’s and that, it’s a fuckin’ blag, you can imagine.”
I was gonna ask Gareth, you’ve got kids as well right?
How is managing all that? Obviously you guys have got each other, and you’re all aware of the pressure of being well-known around Bradford now. I wanted to ask how you feel and how you navigate that knowing you’ve got kids who are growing up who are gonna see social media one day and all of this stuff.
GK: “Kids love it already man. Kids know, obviously one of my kids in the start of the tracks and that, that little voice. Everyone at school and stuff like that. But I balance it out, I treat this as my job but I’ve got kids and that as well. I balance it out as much as I can. I’ve tried doin’ loads and loads of jobs before and I’ll never get an opportunity like this again. I’ve gotta grab it with both hands because everything that I’m doing’s for them. There’s times when I’m gonna be away and there’s gonna be times when I’m not gonna be there, you know what I mean? I’m not alone in the music industry with people with kids. When they get older, they’ll be proud. They’re proud. I don’t think they realise as much, I think give it a couple years I think they’re gonna be like, yeah. They’re still young aren’t they?”
Just to switch back to the music, coming out of the success of Full Wack No Brakes, you’ve got the new EP out. Were there things you wanted to do differently? Were there things you wanted to keep consistent?
Kane: “Well [Full Wack No Brakes] that we did mate, that were the songs we did right at the start, it just took so long to come out. All this stuff that we’re dropping now, mate, you’ll see the difference. Honestly mate, I cringe when I listen to when I go back and look at them, when I listen to them now. When we’re getting three million views on songs that I’m cringing at, I’m thinkin’ mate, what are these new ones gonna do? Because these new ones, some of the songs that we’re dropping, we’ve just done ’em. We’re makin’ ’em right now. Before we were dropping songs that were years old.”
And this is the real one.
Kane: “Yeah, yeah. And we’ve got some big features as well. I don’t wanna tell you who ‘cuz just in case, but we just wanna drop it and get the reactions, you know what I mean? But it’s not even the features, it’s the quality of the songs, the beats, everything’s going next. Like “Don’t You Worry About Me”, we’re using fuckin’ samples off of Splice, copyright-free samples and every song’s a fuckin’ banger. Obviously we still do it like “450” where I’m on chorus but we’re trying to make tunes for everyone now. More commercial innit.”
So I’m guessing you’ve got more videos planned for the new drop. How involved are you guys in the video process, putting together the videos and stuff?
Kane: “What goes on?”
Kane: “Mate, literally we’re just bouncin’ off each other. Someone will get an idea–”
Clive: “It’s like a chain.”
Kane: “I’m more focused on the music, so it’s more these lot now. But I’m trying to get a bit involved more myself, but yeah these lot are doing all the videos. We got some good’uns planned out.”
What plans have you got following 2021? Coming out of lockdown, what do you wanna take from this year?
DG: “We want a number-one hit. We wanna do all the festivals if they’re on. We’re gonna go divvy on tour. And then beginning of next year we’re gonna spend a couple of months probably on the other side of the world, hopefully Australia, New Zealand, and then come back 2022 and sweep up all the awards, that’s my plan.”
We’re a dance music website, so I’ve gotta ask, when was the last time you had a proper dance?
Kane: “Fuckin’ hell, last night mate.”
DG: “Out back, jacuzzi an’ that. Living room parties, with his own beer keg.”
Kane: “Mate, fuckin’ hell, we’ve done them two kegs in bro. 140 pints in four days mate. When did you bring ’em? We didn’t even drink it first night.”
DG: “Friday… No, Saturday.”
Kane: “We didn’t even drink it first night. I mean, we tried it.”
Clive: “It’s nice.”
DG: “Obviously – you’ve done 140 pints.”
Clive: “How many pints is it in one?”
DG: “70 in each.”
Clive: [laughing] “Well I’ve nearly done one of ’em meself. I got one of them big jugs, big German beer glasses haven’t I? Three pints in one.”
Bad Boy Chiller Crew tour the UK & Ireland later this year and are releasing new music soon.
Photos: Mia Clark