︎ INTERVIEW: BOY PABLO
Making a career in the music industry isn’t simple. Traditional methods of breaking into the scene are dying and whilst the internet can trigger overnight success and virality, it’s near impossible to receive considerable exposure amongst the oversaturated market of upcoming musicians online.
Algorithms, however, are evolving the way we approach music on a daily basis. Gone are the days of manually searching for new music, with platforms like Spotify and YouTube doing the work for you - providing tailor-made recommendations based off your search history. Think of it as a digital form of word of mouth.
Now, if your music is lucky enough to get caught up in a random algorithmic wave and you’re genuinely talented, quite frankly you’re laughing. This is exactly what happened to 19-year-old Norwegian artist Boy Pablo. Since the release and viral success of his algorithm-assisted track “Everytime” , garnering over 6.5 million views since its release last year, his life has changed profusely.
Don’t get us wrong, Pablo is far from a one-hit wonder; his debut EP “ROY PABLO” and newest single “Losing You” has been enough to solidify a core following, allowing him to pursue his first European tour, the “Everytime Tour”. In conjunction with the aforementioned, Boy Pablo sat down with Cortex for his very first, exclusive interview - the Indie-pop musician discusses the rise of DIY careers, “Losing You” and more below:
Let’s start off with the basics, how did you get into music?
My whole family’s into music, and I’m the youngest one, so it was natural to start playing the guitar or the drums. My brother plays both guitar and drums, bass and piano. My Dad also plays all instruments…
Ok, so you come from a very musical family and background. Who were your inspirations growing up? Are they the same now as they were back then?
When I was growing up I remember one day in the car, my brother had just brought a CD of the Beatles, so I was really into the Beatles when I was like five or six. My other brother showed me a band called the Ramones, so I was really into that - I like both bands right now *laughs* still. But today it’s more kind of indie music and hip hop, yeah.
Could you give us some recommendations of artists you feel are underrated? Or perhaps your top five list of people you’re listening to now?
Well, that would be an artist from Norway who’s called Sondre Lerche. It would be Young Dreams, who’s also from Norway. I don’t know, I like Tyler, the Creator - he’s really cool.
Yeah, that was gonna come up in another question I have…
Yeah, ok cool *laughs*
So, how did you feel about your song ‘Everytime’ being picked up by the YouTube algorithm?
I don’t know… I think it’s weird and cool and lame at the same time that it got picked up by the algorithms. It’s a new and cool way to get noticed and, well, it’s been great for us - me and the band.
Do you think there was more pressure for you to have a follow-up song that would blow up just as much?
No, not at all. The new single - I started making that almost two years ago. So, I don’t know, I put out the songs that I Iike
So, you’re basically just doing it for you...
Yeah, I want people to like it, of course. But I can’t be a sell out because I got noticed.
Definitely. So, technology has obviously had a major influence on the way we see everything, for example, Instagram and the algorithms - how do you feel about how technology almost controls and monitors what people see?
I don’t know, I think it’s weird. The algorithms aren’t controlled by anyone, they keep making them better I think and it’s come to my favour, somehow. I don’t know how to answer that better *laughs*
That’s totally fine, was a bit deep. So, you’re a Norwegian artist, how was it growing up in Norway and was there a big music scene?
Growing up there it’s safe, it’s chill. Everything was safe, there was nothing to worry about, really. The music scene there… when I was growing up there was a big rock scene in my town in Bergen. So, my brother was really into that and played concerts all over the city. So, yeah, I grew up with rock music. But slowly when I was growing up it changed - now there’s a lot of indie music and also hip hop…
Oh, that’s cool, is it similar to American hip hop or UK hip hop or has it got its own kind of style?
Well, yeah, there’s a lot of trap music and also a lot of jazz hip hop. That’s the thing right now.
Would you say your music is influenced by the place you grew up in or do you find it’s cherry-picked from different musical styles from all around the world?
Both. I was influenced by the Beatles, obviously, and Tyler and Tame Impala and all these big artists. The place where I grew up, it’s raining 364 days of the year but that one sunny day… it’s like amazing. So, I take inspiration from that. I remember that one sunny day a year, just chilling and hanging out with my friends.
How would you describe your sound?
Happy and melodic.
I read that you and Fabio set up a record label called 777tv and one of the most popular videos on the channel is the interview with Tyler, the Creator. How important do you think it is to have a creative platform for DIY artists trying to break into the industry?
Really, it was Fabio who set up 777tv with another friend of ours. When we started we got a little bit serious. They got a lot of views because of Tyler and when I started putting music on the channel we got a lot more views too through the algorithm. So it worked in our favour.
You’ve recently dropped a new track called "Losing You". What’s the reception been like for that and what’re you trying to portray within the song?
I started making that song almost two years ago and I just felt the music. It started with the bass, then the drums and, to be honest, the lyrics are just random words put together *laughs*. I thought the bass-riff was real cool and the intro was real cool but I stopped making the song and put it on pause for like almost a year because I thought this was the song that had to be really cool. I picked it up almost a year later and made the rest of the song because I felt I had something to make.
You’re signed to your own crew’s record label - do you think the DIY approach for you is the new pathway in the creative industries?
Yeah, it’s easier nowadays to do it yourself because of the internet. We have been picked up by other labels; we don’t turn them down but we say we’ll do it ourselves because it’s working.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I think we’re going to try to do a US tour. It’s gonna be a headliner. I’m gonna put another EP out, some singles, work in the studio and try to come up with something new.
Thank you for your time.
No worries, thank you.
Written and edited by Benji Reeves
Interviewed and shot by Cortex member Isha Shah