“Do you know what I find funny?” asks Bradley Gunn Raver from the back seat of an Uber. “Going to professional events dressed like this.” He’s wearing a skin-tight BGR-branded black T-shirt, black leggings and chunky multi-coloured goggles to set the outfit off, and he looks like he’s just left a steampunk-themed bender to go on a bike ride.
The ‘professional event’ in question is the inaugural London Music Conference, and after taking part in a keynote speech at IMS earlier in the year, Bradley’s become something of a regular at music conferences. “I just like to make all the big posh professional people re-touch base on that love of music,” he tells us. And helping people re-touch base with their love of music is what Bradley’s built his entire career on. Initially going raving in his native South-West in his late teens, Bradley found the club atmosphere helped bring him out of his shell and deal with his Asperger’s. Soon he was gaining Instagram and Facebook followers in the tens of thousands for his boisterous dance moves and unbridled enthusiasm for the rave, starring in documentaries for Mixmag and the BBC and hanging out with the likes of Seth Troxler and Peggy Gou.
The next step in his plan is to spread his ‘Love Life and Rave’ message that has propelled him to become a figurehead of dancefloor bonhomie, a levelling ethos driven by his experiences with Asperger’s. “I want to be standing in a rave, at a festival, and I want to hear the words “Love Life and Rave” come out the speakers”, he explains. “The only way that is possible is to make a track”. So he’s teamed up with Coventry-born producer Phutek to bring his dream to life. The pair met two years ago after the producer played at an Awakenings event in Manchester where Bradley was, true to form, dancing. They continued to bump into one another, Gunn beginning to use the producer’s music in his videos, and eventually became friends. The older and wiser Phutek offers career advice to his “little brother”, while Bradley provides bags of positivity – “sometimes he’s a little too much but even that’s enjoyable”, laughs Phutek.
By all accounts, the track was a breeze to make. Bradley wrote and performed the lyrics and even provided some keyboard work, while Phutek oversaw the production. The only conflict arose over the track’s vocals; according to Bradley, “he was trying to make me sound like an alien, and I wanted me to sound like me, but we met in the middle”. While they are chuffed with the track, Gunn is coy about releasing more music: “This track is purely about selling the message; I don’t want to kick-start a career as a producer,” he says.
While Bradley’s built his career on having fun, there’s a serious business mind at work behind the viral raver – and it’ reflected in how he categorises his various personas. “There’s standard BGR – that’s who you’ll meet at the rave,” he tells us. “And then there’s BGR Business Mode when we’re doing a project together. If that goes well you get to BGR Premium Business, and then Eagle Mode. That’s a really intense focus. It’s rare: only two Eagle Modes have ever been deployed.”
On top of his appearances on panels at events like London Music Conference, ADE and Boomtown Fair, Bradley’s also dabbled in commercial work and was part of a social media campaign for Currys PC World via social media platform The Hook, and has done video work for promoters Abode and Elrow. It’s something he admits he wants to keep up going forward, but with more care, after some ‘unsavoury experiences’ with one big unnamed brand.
In the midst of it all he still works nine to five as a software developer. This intense schedule would be tricky for most people, but not Bradley. “This is where Asperger’s helps you,” he says. “With Asperger’s you’re very good at schedules – if something’s got to happen at 6am, you’ll be there at 6am. When I go back to work it is like I’m chilling out. Downtime is honestly more stressful for me than up-time”.
When the weekend comes back around, however, he returns to his element. His rave tales include being invited to Awakenings' founder Rocco Veenboer’s 50th birthday dinner and hanging out with a Who’s Who of top-tier techno bods; eating Deliveroo in Seth Troxler’s hotel room; and receiving Kandi-inspired pictures of his face and logo from some Italian fans at Kappa Futur Festival and stashing them in Carl Cox’s van. The new track even got its debut club run-out from rave legend Frankie Bones at an Amnesia House event. Phutek handed it to him on a CD before the event while they all ate burgers together.
At one stage in our chat, Bradley gets a quick moment to take stock of how rapidly everything has moved: “I’ve been so focused on pushing forward that when l do look back I think ‘Wow – I’ve forgotten what it’s like a little bit!’ By the looks of things, the eagle isn’t landing any time soon.
‘Love Life And Rave’ is out now on New State
James Ball is freelance writer and regular contributor to Mixmag, follow him on Twitter