Through his latest project, The Distance Between Thinking and Feeling, Sydney-based artist BOY SODA showcases his innate curiosity of the world, revealing a different layer and aspect of his mind with each song.
Drawing inspiration from acts like Frank Ocean and SZA, BOY SODA is influencing the Australian R&B sound, highlighting his individuality, and solidifying his purpose as a vessel to deliver art.
Outside of conventions and yet hyper-aware of the binaries he is navigating, BOY SODA describes his EP as a timestamp of growing pains and cultivates a celebration of love, while taking us on a stark journey of self-inquisition and vulnerability.
Through our interview, BOY SODA shares his journey of dispersing energy through music, the influence of his inner child, and explains where his innate relationship with music began.
Congratulations on the release of your debut EP! 2 years in the making. How are you feeling about it?
I’m feeling everything to be honest. This EP is my first full body of work I’ve released as I’ve only ever released singles. I’m saying a lot throughout it and it’s a new feeling. There’s a top and a tail to how I’m delivering the ideas as well. You know—the release comes with a lot of self-pressure, doubt, and anxiety but I’m also feeling really proud and excited. I’m like right in the middle of those binaries this week but I feel like that’s the way this moment is supposed to feel. This EP is two years’ worth of energy, experiences, and conversations with myself in six songs. I feel like I’ll never be able to say enough in six songs, but this is my first crack at it and I’m really proud of how it ended up.
Each song reveals a new layer to you which is really generous and honest. Good music makes us want to know more about the artist and you’re giving us that. Was this your intention with the project?
I consider songs to be a conversation with myself and for that reason, it feels really vulnerable to release them. It’s one thing to make the song and do it for me, but for it to then exist for other people and to have that level of transparency is a really exciting but scary thing as well.
I always like to reveal a different aspect of myself musically and a different aspect of my mind with each song, and hearing you say that makes me feel like I did the right thing with the project. My opening track is all feeling and intuition for me, and by the time you get to ‘Big’ which is the closing track—it’s all thought and reflection and self-inquisition. I wanted to reveal those different aspects of myself in a chronological sense as well. I feel like a new character gets introduced in the second song, and you have this exploration of love and celebration, then loss and then reflection. It goes from the opening song which has some Bohemian Rhapsody shit, and then goes to a modern-day hip-hop/R&B beat which I feel like is my bread and butter and stuff I do quite easily. It’s a lot of fun.
I noticed some really powerful contrasts within your EP. At one point it was like you were questioning your existence and then I felt a celebration of love that has a real early 2000’s R&B vibe to it. I’ve seen you describe yourself as a hopeless romantic. Do you think that love is something that grounds you, and what role does it play in your creative process?
I just think that above everything else love is one of the main reasons we are put on this earth—we are here to love and be loved. And I think that bleeds through everything I say in my music. I’m here to make music. I’m here to make art. I’m here to allow other people to find healing through my own healing but it’s penultimate. I’m here to love to myself and love other people and allow that to go two ways in every romantic and platonic relationship in my life, because without that nothing else matters to me.
You’ve spoken about being protective of your inner child and letting his imagination fly – is this something that influenced the creative process for your EP?
Yeah, it’s definitely something that exists mainly in the process for me. I just remember the innate curiosity as a child of wondering how things work or why things happen you know, right down to the simple question of why is the sky blue? I think that being aware of that and then protecting it has this beautiful innocence in the way that I receive the information around me on a visual and an auditory level which also affects the way that its regurgitated, because you know, everything that I make is just an imitation of my life or someone else’s life—that’s what art it is.
Some of the things you just mentioned like questioning why the sky is blue for example – it seems like a simple question but there’s so much complexity to that. How do you put these complex thoughts in a song? What inspires you when you’re writing?
I think it’s something that I’m learning now as a common denominator of the way that I write and make music to be honest. Everything inspires me. A lot of my songs start based on the first word that comes to my head and I’ll build from there. I want there to be purpose to everything I do. Even if the lyrics aren’t that deep in a song, the purpose of that song for me is to create good energy or a good vibe. Sometimes I’m intentionally not telling a story because I’m trying to create a little world in three minutes.
I’m inspired by my relationships and the people around me and in creating this EP I have done a lot of self-work and learning and unlearning. I experienced rapid growing pains from the ages of 18 to 23 and I’m really happy that I have this project as a timestamp of that process.
Everything you’re explaining is so evident in the project. Some people don’t reach this level of self-awareness until much later in life and it’s so special that you have music as that vice to take you on that journey.
100%. I don’t know what I would do without it to be honest. I do this purely because I have to. I need to create and there’s things that happen to me that need to be released in some form. You know, energy never disappears, it just changes forms or whatever. I need that conversion to happen from emotion to MP3, literally. I love making music, but I also do it so that stuff doesn’t live in my head, it can exist in an external space. It’s to the point where I can say something to myself in a song and not even realise what I was trying to say until 6 months later, and I’m like… fuck…it was right under my nose [laughs].
Talk me through your EP title, ‘The Distance Between Thinking and Feeling’.
My EP title was originally called ‘The Difference Between Thinking and Feeling’, but I didn’t really agree with it being polar opposite. I think that feeds into the idea that one can’t exist without another—and being hyper self-aware means that when I feel things, I can very easily observe them to the point that I’m dissociated from them. So, it’s that balance of having the gift of being able to recognise my feelings in that sense, but also having the autonomy over myself to not let me drift too far away from them. That’s what I mean when I talk about the distance between—it’s a binary that I battle with and experience every day, but I think that’s just part of being human.
I felt this ethereal vibe across your EP which is propelled by some of the electronic undertones, giving you this feeling of expansion. Reflecting on the concept of expansion – what is your wildest dream? How far do you want to expand?
There’s a lot of milestones that I want to hit obviously, but at the same time I don’t put a lot of weight in reaching them. I think at the moment, inner peace and satisfaction are my biggest priorities and if I can just make music and release music and be financially supported by that then I’ll be happy. That’s good enough for me. Anything else that happens outside of that is just a by-product of me pursuing that. There are things I want to happen, but I trust they will come as a result of me sticking in my zone and finding what makes me happy.
Who do you draw most inspiration from?
Vocally, I listen to a lot of like 2000’s R&B artists and I think my taste and even technical ability shit like learning how to do runs was built on that era. Growing up I would listen to Usher and Trey Songz and it’s not music that I necessarily resonate with now, but it influenced how I approach my melodies today.
Artists like Miguel—he has this awesome grunge place in his voice that he can push to and it’s really sexy, and I know that I’ve imitated that to an extent as well. Listening to people like Kendrick Lamar who introduced different voices and personalities, and people like Nicki Minaj for example, growing up seeing her YMCMB stage and her Monster verse and shit like that—that was my shit in high school. Hearing someone like Nicki [Minaj] have different personas reminds me I can voice myself differently and it showed me I can play a particular character for a particular song and purpose.
Today I am inspired by artists like Frank Ocean, SZA, Ty Dollar $ign. Ty [Dolla $ign] and Lucky Daye are so overindulgent in what they give you when you listen to it—it’s like ear candy. I love doing that as well.
Where did your relationship with music start for you? Was there a pinnacle moment for you?
I have always inherently loved it. I remember being in the car when I was really young and drumming on the side panels and stuff like that. I was also really lucky to have parents that were very aware of that and nurtured that. They would see me banging on the car to the sound of the radio, so they got me a jambe for Christmas. I remember asking for a karaoke machine with a CD player on top and fake microphones—all of that stuff. I liked the idea of being an artist before I understood anything that came with it. I loved singing, and that feeling of fitting into a composition—complimenting everything and it complimenting you—was something I have always been fucking addicted to. I’m not surprised that I got here. There was no pinnacle moment. It’s inherently who I am.
I also read something about you reflecting on the importance of being around like-minded people after you moved from the Central Coast to Sydney. How did that influence your journey?
It felt like a very necessary step. I wanted to come to a place where I’m surrounded by other dreamers. I have a lot of love for the Central Coast you know, that’s my hometown, I grew up there and there’s a lot of lessons and learnings that happened there. It got to a point where I felt I exhausted everything the place could give me. I wanted more and I wanted to be around more creative people and I wanted my inner circle to be people that consistently inspire me. I had a feeling there were things I was missing out on not being in Sydney, and when I got to Sydney all those things were there. I made the right move. I feel like my creativity and inspiration is very protected here.
When watching one of your music videos I noticed you have an Acknowledgment of Country at the start. Not many artists do that—much respect.
That should be the standard. We do that at our shows as well—in the intros we record a separate one depending on the venue we are at. There are definitely things that I need to educate myself on and navigate but I feel very comfortable that my team and I are always in the pursuit of staying on top of that, and we are always okay with learning. Being supported by other people with the same intentions in that sense is really important for me, so we will always do that and be in the pursuit of doing it correctly wherever we can.
I know it’s a little unfair to ask this because you’ve worked so hard and it’s nice to honour this space for a bit – but what’s next for you?
I have a lot of music I need to get out. I want there to be like a dark side of the moon version or a sibling EP to this one, so I’ll definitely do that at some point.
I’m excited to reveal more layers and shift into different genres a bit and have fun with that. I want to support and uplift other people in the scene as well and see more artists and creatives exist in the same spaces. I think Sydney is very tapped into that so it’s something I’m really excited to commit to as well.
Follow BOYSODA here for more and listen to his debut EP here.