Feature

Meet BOI, the bubbly singer-songwriter looking to challenge stereotypical pop conventions by being her own superhero

“If I was an animal I’d be a flamingo because I’m very lanky and tall and nice to look at – but when you get closer, oh dear, I’m a bit of a klutz, I’m like a cyclone of lollies coming for ‘ya,” comes the energetic voice of Sydney-based pop artist BOI (real name Anna Buckingham), from the other end of the phone.

The self-proclaimed Duracell bunny’s dynamism radiates over the line and it’s infectious – I’m immediately in a better mood.

With a moniker that was chosen to challenge stereotypes and push the boundaries because she needed a superhero for herself, BOI’s solo career has steadily gone from milestone to milestone after the release of her debut single “Imaginary Boys” in June of 2019.

“I was in a band for 6 years where we were too commercial for Triple J and too indie for commercial stations,” BOI laughs. “But having said that, Triple J has this amazing platform called Unearthed where you can upload music for free. I uploaded my first single onto Unearthed and that’s how it got picked up by a show’s producer and then playlisted.”

Her previous band, Nova and the Experience, afforded BOI a kind of comfort and consolation that a solo career seemingly does not and when I ask her if it gets lonely she immediately agrees. “I was in a band with my brother and two other guys – we were all friends – and we had a great camaraderie. Also writing music with your blood is a great natural experience. Most of the times we’d joke around and say, okay on the count of 1, 2, 3, sing any note – and most of the time we’d be in harmony and sing the same note,” she recalls.

“Being solo is bloody hard – mentally, personally. Professionally I also enjoy collaborating, sometimes I get in my head and I question myself, whereas when you’re in studio with other people it’s really productive and I don’t get offended if someone says they don’t like it. We just move on to the next thing,” BOI explains.

Her professional relationship with producer Liam Quinn (Guy Sebastian, Katy Steele) is the bedrock of her release trajectory, with Quinn having produced all but one of her singles. BOI refers to him as a “legend” and I have to agree – his trademark hooks and out-of-the-box production have pushed BOI’s sound in a rather interesting direction.

One of the most noteworthy tracks off her debut EP Look At Me Now is “Fairytale”, an adrenaline-fuelled anthem that talks about self-love and positivity. “It’s a dark twist on a fairytale and talks how the prince never turns up, about how Rapunzel lets down her hair but really there’s no one there,” BOI comments on the satirical undertone of the track.

“When I was writing this, I really wanted to take on a universal concept and pull it apart and as I grew up watching a lot of Disney musicals and reading fairytales this [a happily ever after] was a concept that I could not pass on,” she muses and it’s refreshing to hear a pop artist who’s willing to twist a canonical body of work like that.

With self-isolation the new norm and music gatherings in Australia halted for the near future, BOI’s determination to keep busy has spilled over into her want of acquiring new skills – from producing to dancing or perhaps juggling – there’s no way anything’s keeping her creative spirit down.