Up-and-coming R&B musician Bosco produced her latest album b. (out August 11) in California, Georgia and New Orleans; fitting for someone who describes herself as a “floater.” The album, featuring collaborations with producers like Sammy Bananas, is a musical coming-of-age narrative about the journey to womanhood.
The Savannah native has a sound that’s a soulful mixture of her early influences, including Alanis Morissette and Marvin Gaye. Click through her Soundcloud and you’ll hear her eclecticism: she taps into soul funk on her track “Cruel” and hits the ’90s alternative rock nail on the head on “Adrenaline.” Both tracks are distinctly different yet unified by smooth vocals easily compared to Brandy or Solange.
But Bosco’s varied taste extends well beyond music. The 31-year-old artist also recently founded a creative agency called SLUG, an independent platform offering event production, design and branding services specifically for minority creatives. FLARE spoke with Bosco about her upcoming project b., and how its creation was inspired by self-discovery, escapism and growing up.
Where does your passion for music come from?
I got my start singing in the church and in local talent shows in Savannah. My mom would take me to choir rehearsal when she was in college and I would be singing Patti LaBelle songs at five- or six-years-old, just trying to sing with the older people. That’s really how I got my start.
Is singing in church something you still do?
That was just a childhood thing. In African-American culture, you’re groomed in the church; it’s a very Southern rite of passage. You kind of start there or you start in your local talent shows and your barbecues.
Based on your internet presence—and your Instagram aesthetic—you work with a lot of different mediums. Have you always been interested in different kinds of art forms?
I went to college for fashion design, but I quickly learned that it’s not really about fashion, it’s about style—and no one can really teach you that. It’s something that has to come from inside. But what I did take from art school was learning graphic design, industrial design and how to market myself. I had to use a lot of computer graphics for design, and that was something I always gravitated towards. I just started with typography and I was like, ‘Holy shit! I think I might like graphic design.’
In terms of your creative agency, SLUG, part of its goal is to “transform identity, stereotypes and limitations through self-expression and creativity.” What does that actually look like to you?
The core of SLUG is to create a platform or voice for the minority. I felt I had a huge responsibility being that I am a Black girl from a small-town “country” city. I was always looking for an outlet and I didn’t really know where to go. SLUG was a way for me to get in touch with those kids, whether they’re Asian, Indian, Black, Mexican, Hispanic. That was my way to give them a chance and a platform.
What would you say is the importance of having a grassroots, socially-engaged company like SLUG today?
I’m very inspired by a lot of artists like Frank Ocean, Chance The Rapper and Solange. These people not only have mainstream backing from a label, but they also created their own platform for their stuff to live in. I think it’s extremely admirable to have something of your own in this time where politics are changing, everything is changing. We need to have something of our own because we’re still dealing with racial issues.
Your newest project b. is being released soon. What do you hope people get out of it?
I’m really hoping that this project is a standalone. In the past, it’s always been like, ‘this song is about this’ or ‘if you like this, then you’ll like this.’ I understand that, because sometimes people choose to compartmentalize sound, but I want people to really see and understand who I am, know my voice and see my style and hear what I’m trying to say. I’m not trying to be like anyone else, this is just who I am. I want my work to speak for me this time and nothing else.
Is there any specific message that you’re trying to get across?
I wrote this project in L.A., Atlanta and New Orleans. It’s about escapism, it’s about self-discovery and it’s about transitioning into womanhood. I don’t think that anybody really talks about how it is to be a woman in the industry and having to be so many places at so many times. You’re still a person and you’re still coming into your own. I had to evolve while being in a train, in a car, in an Uber. You think of how many times we have to evolve while in motion. I really didn’t realize that until I started writing a large part of these songs. When I finally came to L.A. and I looked back over my life, I was like, ‘Wow, I was evolving in motion.’ I had to be a sister, a daughter, a cousin. It’s all of these things that we have to do as women also in a creative field, in this industry. So, that’s the centrepiece [of the project]: evolving and discovering who you are while in transition through your career.
How would you describe your sound?
I say I’m new wave R&B indie rock, but I have so many influences. I grew up on Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, Shania Twain. I had an uncle who would play Al Green, Marvin Gaye, the Commodores and Earth, Wind & Fire. I grew up in Savannah, which is a coastal beachy kind of city, but is still very old and mystical, and has a lot of original architecture. Because I was raised that way, I was able to tap into different vibes and different genres and blend them to make this sound that I have today.
On your Twitter, your bio location says “everywhere and nowhere.” Does that have a deeper meaning for you?
I am a floater. I’ve lived in four or five cities, so I feel like I’m here today, gone tomorrow. There are pieces of me that I’ve left in each city, whether it’s old Polaroids or décor. I’m always fleeting so that’s where that comes from.
Your fashion sense is pretty rad. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Honestly, I just pick up a lot of stuff from the thrift store. In California, they always have these yard sales, so I’m always getting other people’s things. I do like designer but I love the story of clothes and that’s where a lot of my passion comes from. It’s all about the pieces that speak to me. I like bold colours. I’m not afraid to try new and different things and be fearless in my choice of fashion. I’m inspired by my aunts who were hairdressers. I grew up in a hair salon, so I would see so many cool hairstyles and women decked out in gold. The fashion in the ’90s was so good.
Is there anyone who inspires you creatively?
I’m still inspired by Michael Jackson. I’m inspired by Meshell Ndegeocello. She’s amazing; she has this Deep Purple-ish voice. I listen to a lot of ’90s alt-rock. Sade is my love. My love for Sade will never fade. I stick to the classics.
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