BOSCO Talks New Project 'b.’', and Why She's Finally Able to Embrace Her Beauty
BOSCO makes the kind of music one would enjoy while riding down the PCH on Sunset, or sitting at home reflecting on a past relationship.
Over the past few years, the Savannah, GA native has steadily built up buzz in the industry with projects like Boy and Girls in the Yard. Recently the multi-faceted artist had her music from her Boy EP featured on HBO's Insecure. In addition, she premiered her recent single off of her b. project, "Adrenaline", on NPR and Zane Lowe's Beats 1 Radio.
In describing the environment and isolation she experienced growing up in Savannah, she notes, "You [had] to create these worlds and visualize where you want to be. And I was the type of girl that went to Barnes and Noble to get insight on what New York is doing, to get insight on what L.A. is doing, because we didn't even have certain channels. It's like the information was not for us, at least where I was at."
Billboard sat down with BOSCO on a chilly fall L.A. evening at a local restaurant on Sunset Blvd., to talk about everything from her new EP to her creative agency, SLUG. Check it out below.
You named this project b. why?
I named it b., [for] a couple things. It's a continuation of the Boy EP. I feel like it kind of is reminiscent of the beginning stages of my career, when I was doing my soulful, more R&B stuff. It's kind of the second coming of that. It's a spinoff of my name. I think it's just the b-side of my artistry at this point.
The artwork for the project is very whimsical, free yet intentional and focused. How did that concept come together?
I'm a visual person, and love working on visuals. I worked with this guy I went to college with, named The Young Never Sleeps. All of the best inspiration can sometimes come from just being up. We've been friends for 10 years. We had fallen out of touch, and then reconnected two years ago.
I just felt like this project was about a journey and escapism. I spent a lot time making this project at the airport. I wanted people to feel like they were literally traveling with me. With all of the nuances and the interludes, taking little clips from different parts. Just growing along with your journey. That was the centerpiece of entering the ride with me.
When did you start working on the project and how long did it take you to finish?
I'm a researcher, collector. That's something that I kind of picked up working on different art projects. Some of the voice memos are from early as 2011 to now. I've just been cataloging it. The one [on the album] that says, "Do you want to know the truth, the whole truth," that was from 2011. I've been working on the songs for about two years. I would say me honing in on 15 songs and then last year I narrowed in on eight. But, then again, a lot of these songs have different faces, so I've been growing with them as I travel.
What song almost didn't make the project and why?
"Cigarette Sex." That song has been in the vault for five years. I wrote it a long time ago. I always had the hook, but never the framework for the song. That's a song that has been through eight facelifts. When I moved here, I pulled it out of the vault and tried it again. I had to allow the universe to mold and help me make it what it was. So that's the song where I said, "I'm going to try that." I brought in Niia to help me work on it. And then it kind of started to become a song, and feel right.
Was there any song on the project so personal that you were almost afraid to include?
"Flowers." I think on this project, this was the first time I was really tongue and cheek. On my previous work, I hid behind metaphors and similes, instead of just saying, "This is what it is and how I feel." And I didn't want to come off a certain way about the context of the song. But I learned that the song connects with people so much, because it was literally out of my heart onto paper, into audio, into soundwaves. That song just really freed me up. A lot of things I wanted to get over from past relationships. Even though I'm talking about romantic relationships, people can apply that to relationships like with a business partner or management, or things like that. That's my little baby. That's my Frank Ocean song.
You sampled Bobby Brown's "Don't Be Cruel" in your song "Cruel." Is that song particularly significant to you?
I grew up in the auntie generation. Very much Honda Civic music. My aunt was a cosmetologist, so I would go to the hair salon on the weekends and hang with them, sweep the hair, make my little store money so I can get candy and chips. So I just remember hearing a lot of Bobby Brown, but it was that "Tenderoni" era that really stuck to me.
I felt like a woman. I grew with that song. Even when I listened to Prince songs, certain Prince songs I couldn't understand, but now I can go back and listen to them like, "Oh, I was supposed to grow with him into this song." I feel like Bobby Brown was a good example of that. It was my way of connecting the older and newer generation and putting my spin on it.
How did the music you grew up with shape how you view and create music now?
I grew up in the church, so I'm really about, "Can you sing or not?" [Laughs.] That's just what it really is. It's like, "Put up or shut up." So I feel like because of my background, and because of how I grew up, that was something so deeply rooted into me. My parent was a minister of music, my mom was a minister. So they just threw me in there. I found my way and got woke.
I still have those roots in me. I relate to Daniel Caesar because he has a similar background as me, and I can hear those gospel chords and influences in his music. So I feel like as one of those church kids, you can depart, but it's still rooted in you.
You've done a lot to shape the art and music scene in Atlanta, being from Savannah. Talk about your work in that space.
Yeah, I'm working with A3C and Toyota right now. We did a hip-hop-inspired brunch with Sweet Chick and Toyota. We did all of the creative [things] for that, so I'm excited. We're working on some stuff with WeWork in Atlanta. Then we are going to do something with one in New York. But right now, we are just creating stuff and building our own world, and people are starting to notice that. I'm really excited about that.
This particular project has received a lot of good reception. Now that you have people's attention, what do you have to say as an artist?
I honestly want people to trust their struggle. I have been through so many different changes, whether it's management or music, to identity with who I am. For a long time, I've struggled with not thinking I was pretty enough. I was always the cool girl that people wanted around, but I didn't think I was on the level to compete with what society says beauty was in the R&B world. Because you can take two roads: You can go the sexual route or you can just stay down and really hone in on your gift.
I'm not even dissing people who are on that vibe, but that's just not what's in me. I just want people to know that you really just have to keep going. I'm not mad for what I didn't do back in the day. I've forgiven myself. And that's what most people really don't understand. I just want to encourage people and inspire people to keep going.