Auckland hip hop artist Elvin Alfaro performs under the alias LVJ. He started making music as an impressionable 14-year-old at high school.
“The first type of music that I made by myself was acoustic kind’a guitar shit. Just a boy with a lot of feelings really. I started making music with my friend Sean Siddells, we started a group called Jules and Vince,” a banner which they still perform under.
His LVJ project is comparatively fresh.
“It wasn’t till the start of last year that I started doing this solo rap thing. As soon as I started making shit, and started meeting dudes that I knew about that were making heaps of hip hop music, I realised they’re just so chill and real genuine, and just real stoked that people are making music.”
Alfaro answers questions earnestly. He has a voice that could lullaby the most anxious of sleepers listening to the radio late at night.
When talking about ‘The Shaka Tape’ EP, released in September of last year, he refers to it as a community feat.
“A few of the beats were made by my close friends, but most of them were just people I either approached, or just people that have hit me up.”
“It’s really funny because just because there’s heaps of producers on it, there’s so many different styles… but I feel like there’s some continuity behind the ‘Shaka Tape’.
His website has links to dozens of different NZ artists and projects, and he is all about building others up around him.
“I like the idea of showcasing more than one person you know?” he says, very sincerely.
Hot on the heels of ‘Shaka’, released in February this year, Alfaro describes his new EP ‘Pizzaboy’ as something that’s a bit more fun.
“I feel like it’s a little bit more refined, but I’m still working at it. I’m still trying to finesse what I’m trying to do”.
The EP is rife with rich beds over which he exercises his often comical, frequently perceptive lyricism. His beats can be exciting and extrovert like in the danceable Crushing Hard with its distinctive opening hook, but also poignant, as in his dreamy sonic backdrop for S.O.S.
Asked about his track Ode to Fuckboy, (a male who tries to do something he knows nothing about, among other definitions) Alfaro laughs.
“I mean someone’s gotta say it! I was just like, these dudes need to be called out!”
He is already looking to play abroad.
“I’m actually going to Berlin in June. I’m going to China, I’m going to play a show in Shanghai. From Shanghai I’m going to train to Beijing, then to Mongolia, then Moscow then to Berlin. So If there is anyone who knows anyone in those places…”
Fresh local hip hop is safe thanks to artists like LVJ, and will be for a while Alfaro says.
“Music is looking like a real nice thing at the moment.”