Exclusive Interview: BOKO MARU
Met up with Boko Maru at Eglington West station in Toronto last week on the northbound platform. Cold winter air drying up my lips and freezing my fingers as I grip my Tim Hortons coffee for warmth. We took a bus to the studio and got lost in the suburbs of North York. We walked and talked, and even met a stray cat who seemed to be living better than most. Many can attest that Boko is a humble & soft spoken artist. I have been following her music for about a year now and sometimes find myself humming her tunes. Seeing her grow within her art has been magical, and it was my pleasure to get to know her on a deeper level and talk about her new project Lovetones.
You said you have like three projects you haven’t fully released, why are you deciding to put out an album now, what pushed you?
I’m always recording. I use my Logic Pro kind of like a journal. I’ve had this particular project finished for over a year now and feel it's time to share it because although I’m quite sick of listening to it, it was very close to my heart, and I’m trying to form better habits when it comes to releasing my work. Like most artists I’m a die hard perfectionist and it gets the best of me sometimes, but I’m working on that.
How did this album come about?
I connected with a UK producer called Spacedtime via soundcloud after listening to his page on repeat. His production really inspired me so I wrote/recorded something and sent it to him. He was into it so we continued sending things back and forth. [Lovetones] was initially 7 tracks long but I condensed it into a 3 track stream. Reason being that I lost a bunch of stems when my laptop was water damaged. I lost a lot of work due to that and wasn’t able to recover my hard drive... moral of the story, always back up your music! It’s heartbreaking when you lose things you’ve worked so hard on. Bright side is that a fresh start is always nice, and it was oddly cleansing once I came to terms with it.
Human will power is incredibly feeble. How do you resist short-term temptations and retrieve will power?
Making music is truly a pleasure so it’s not that difficult for me to get motivated. I thrive off the feelings I get when creating. Though my attention span is easily compromised, and I often jump from project to project. I always manage to get things done eventually. I do fall into 'luls' where I lack inspiration but they never last that long.
When you first started singing, like ever, who really pushed you to pursue the art?
My adoptive father for sure. He formally introduced me to music. Being a musician himself we would always build together. He taught me various instruments and had a huge hand in building my creative confidents. I’m so grateful for his constant encouragement and support throughout my relationship with music. Regardless of how shy I was growing up he would never let me sell myself short, and I thank him for that because now I can comfortably pursue what I love without feelings of inadequacy or self doubt.
What was it like growing up?
I grew up in a lot of different homes and was more or less introverted. I’ve always been creative, and spent most of my time drawing and writing. I started making music when I was around 9 playing bass and writing songs in an after school jazz program. Got my first DAW software (Cubase 4) in my early teens and started recording all the time. Music has always been present in my life, it’s the perfect escapism in trying times, and by far my favourite form of expression.
Have you ever tried rapping or beat boxing?
Sure. My dad's a drummer and would often beatbox around the house and in the car. I never got any good at it but it was still fun messing around. As for rap, I wrote a lot of spoken word.
What do you fear the most?
Losing my hearing. I work as a live sound engineer so I’m always surrounded by loud music. I do my best to protect my ears but I still feel like I’ve lost some dbs in the process.
Which artist do you relate to the most out there?
hmm… I’d have to go with Beth Gibbons of Portishead. Her writing style and hauntingly angelic voice really resonates with me. Her solo work off Out of Season gives me chills and she's also a heavy smoker like myself.
What’s your life plan now that you’ve got this release going?
I’ve been working on my own production so i'll be putting some of that out soon. I’m also working on another project with a Swiss artist called Melodiesinfonie which I’m excited about. As far as life plans go, i’m really interested in the engineering side of music so i’ll be moving more towards that. Regardless of where my career takes me though i'll always be singing and putting out tracks. I wanna thank all the people that listen to my stuff and encourage my sound, and to all the immensely talented artists I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years. You’ve had a profound effect on my life experience and I feel so blessed <3