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Up-and-coming Vancouver hip-hop performer and Capitol Records / Universal Music Canada recording artist Boslen has just dropped a new EP, Gonzo. On the seven-track release, the 23-year-old wraps disparate influences, including pop and industrial, in layered, atmospheric arrangements. The new EP follows a well-received debut full-length, Dusk to Dawn, and attention-getting EPs Motionless, Motionless II, and Black Lotus. We talked to Boslen about the word “gonzo,” the influence of TikTok, and Salvador Dali.
Q: You’ve been dealing with a blown eardrum and, before that, an ACL injury from playing ruby. Are you injury-prone or just unlucky?
A: It’s funny because after I tore my ACL for the second time after playing rugby for seven years I asked God – I’m not religious – but I said, If you take this from me can I have music? And now I have music and He’s taken my eardrum. I’ve got to buy a horseshoe or a rabbit’s foot.
Q: How did that affect the recording of Gonzo?
A: It was a psychological battle. Some days I’d be tired from long sessions and my ear was bothering me but at the same time I was trying to make something that pushes, that’s timeless and a piece of art. I had to learn to work around it. Not timing-wise but in the sonics. Some frequencies I do not hear anymore. It makes me appreciate music differently now. I’m focused on rhythm more and not on super, super minute details. A 13-year-old who skateboards is not going to be like, “Oh wow, Boslen spent two hours on an outro.”
Q: Would you say Gonzo is the end of Phase I or the start of Phase II of your career?
A: I think it’s the end of Phase I. It’s the closing of a chapter. I mean that in my life too, from my family to some of my team members to some friendships to where I am as a man. The whole experiment was just a representation of how sporadic my life was at the time.
Q: The word “gonzo” conjures up images of journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Where did it come from?
A: I was researching Salvador Dali, and I was fascinated with his paintings and his ability to push himself. At the time, people called him delusional, or crazy. Then I saw some of Hunter S. Thompson’s sayings and something about gonzo journalism, and it just played into what was going through in my life at the time.
Q: Did you experience culture shock moving from Chilliwack to North Vancouver?
A: (laughs) Uh, yeah. It was a lot of things. The girls, the food. As a kid, I remember when I was growing up I did not see buildings that high. When we went to Vancouver it was such an event for my family. My mom would tell me weeks before. Now seeing Vancouver and what it holds, I’m in awe of it and how it goes from sea to sky, and of the people and their stories and their backgrounds. I feel like that’s the best thing in Vancouver – the different walks of life here and the stories that come with that.
Q: How did TikTok influence your career?
A: All I have is appreciation for TikTok. I think it’s one of the best tools for artists right now. It used to be artists on sidewalks slinging CDs. Now there’s this new form of promotion that can change people’s careers in a matter of seconds. For some kid in Ohio or Mississippi who never would have had a chance compared to someone in Los Angeles with all these connections, it balances the playing field. Being from Vancouver and trying to break into the States I think it’s definitely helped with promotion. But I think it shortens kids’ attention spans. People go through trends so fast. I do not think that’s the platform’s fault. When you’re trying to push the music I’m trying to push, it’s not supposed to be just another trend.
Q: Do you try to limit the time you spend on your phone?
A: I watched this 070 Shake documentary, and she said that when she was working on her last album, which is very inspiring – I think it’s one of the best albums of the year – she said that she did not go on her phone for four months while she was making it. So I wrote down on this doc, where I made notes of all the things I want to do on this new album I just started working on, to do that. But as of now the addiction is at an all-time high.
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