In this age of self-cultivated personas and young musicians in charge of their image, it’s incredibly easy to be lost in a sea of Xeroxed performance identities. This is where BOYFRIEND sticks out like an ear of corn.
Born in Nashville, having worked in LA, and based in New Orleans, this rapper/performance artist is making waves and sounds that will get stuck in your ear on your way to work or have you dancing while you wait for your bus. Her music will also make you think—something that too many modern day indie artists forget in their formula of self-made identity.
Recently, I got the chance to interview the quirky performer known only as BOYFRIEND, and got a glimpse into her wide-brimmed, burgeoning world, and an exclusive look at her photo series American Lunch.
BOYFRIEND, your stage name, is an identity you hold completely separate from your off-stage life. Do you notice when you're BOYFRIEND and when you're not, or is BOYFRIEND who you are at all times?
Why waste my time being anything but swanky? 24/7 BF69!
I understand you're originally from Nashville (but based out of New Orleans), and I can definitely hear a Southern twang in some of your songs. How, if at all, did living in the South shape who you are as a person, performer, woman, etc.?
Yes, I'm very proud to be from the South—growing up here has its complications, but they are complications that force a sense of self. Of course, I can't speak for the region, but my personal reality growing up was very much conservative, hetero-normative, white, and Christian. So to do something like be vegetarian, or like girls, or explore another culture or, god forbid, question god. . . well, it made more of a statement, you had to grapple, have a mental reckoning. I didn't get to be mindlessly liberal like I might've growing up in say, Berkeley, CA, where these "liberal" habits of being are more default.
Looking at a lot of your work, you appear to be a very visual performer, online and onstage. Is image something you put foremost when working on BOYFRIEND material?
Any image I release is an ambassador of my message, so it must be curated and intentional. And I want the live show to feel like a show, not a concert—the theater, not the club. So sometimes that means dressing up the place a bit, devil's in the details after all. Some artists use sound to deliver their ideas—I try to use all five senses. Although I guess it's only the front few rows that get to smell my Chanel, taste my champagne and feel my feather boa lightly graze their cheek…
Speaking of imagery, you've recently done a photo series titled American Lunch, which was shot by Dieter Spears in a pretty grotesque children's cafeteria. What inspired this photo series?
The onset of autumn always awakens a tormented nostalgia in me. School is back in session and perhaps no setting other than the lunchroom provides us this painful micro-universe of life's social challenges. But also—the corn. Americans eat more corn than they realize. Even your hamburger & coke are corn.
Is this photo series hinting at a theme or concept for your upcoming fall music release?
I've never been one to spoil a surprise.
You recently announced that you'll be touring with Big Freedia (also from NOLA) this fall. How did the two of you link up?
Hustle respects hustle.
Are there any other exciting things on your plate this fall?
Corn. Creamed, cobbed & casseroled. Oh and I'm excited to bring Rap Cabaret to new regions on this tour (coming for you, Midwest!) And I'm releasing Love Your Boyfriend, Pt. 3, which I reckon will make my LYBF project a trilogy (coming for you, J.R.R. Tolkien!). And I have lots of images up my sleeve that will be unleashed upon the web, at last.