Music

Becoming Bloodboy: In Conversation with the Rising Pop Artist

Music

Becoming Bloodboy: In Conversation with the Rising Pop Artist

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Photography: Nathan Olivas

In April, we premiered Bloodboy’s debut music video for her breakout single, “Human Female,” and talked with the rising artist—real name Lexie Papilion—about her strong moniker and video. Since then, she’s been working in the studio with producers Justin Raisen (Charli XCX, Sky Ferreira, Ariel Pink) and Thom Monahan (Peter Bjorn & John, Wild Nothing), honing her sound and recording her forthcoming EP.

The project will be filled with rock-imbued pop songs, inspired by her own personal experiences, from watching a friend struggle with addiction to disappointing her mom. Tracks like, “Mom I’ve Changed,” combine immediate hooks with Papilion’s bellowing voice, while others, like “Disease,” really showcase the singer’s impressive range. “Hey Kid,” though clearly a pop song, reflects the artist’s love for Brian Eno, and “Fuck Yourself” hints at her punk rock roots.

We recently caught up, once more, with Bloodboy to talk about her debut EP and finally learning to trust herself.

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On her biggest influences:

Bowie’s Low —the one he worked on with [Brian] Eno. That record in particular was a huge influence for this EP. The Clash is my favorite band of all time, and I love Ariel Pink. Talking Heads is on rotation consistently, so is Elvis Costello.

On her process:

I used to write lyrics first pretty much exclusively, and then put melodies to them afterwards. But I found, for me, that it’s really important to start the process differently in order to not be making music that sounds the same all the time. Now, a lot of times I start with a drum pattern, or I’ll just pick a bpm I want to construct a song around. I’ll write a bass line, or I’ll think of a title for a song and construct a weird little story around that. I got a Juno 106 [synth] recently, so I’ve been experimenting with the sounds on that. I definitely try to mix it up, so that I’m not doing the same thing for every fucking song.

On her musical background:

I was one of those little kids, according to my parents, who was always singing and very obnoxious, so they recognized from the time I was like five, that I had musical inclinations. So they had me do piano lessons. I was also at a very young age into poetry, so I started to fuse the two pretty soon after I started taking piano lessons. As young as five or six, I started writing little songs, and I think that because it was so innate for me, my parents really nurtured that. So I started taking voice lessons too, and I was actually a competitive opera singer for a little.

On her career path:

Music took a back seat when I was in high school because I was traveling so much for surfing. When I decided to go to college instead of continuing with competitive surfing, music came to the forefront of my interest again. I think in the back of mind it was what I always wanted more than anything, but even when I was in college, I didn’t trust myself enough to abandon everything and say, ‘Fuck it, I’m just going to be a musician.’ I even took the LSAT and thought I wanted to go to law school. But when I graduated from college and was trying to figure out what the fuck to do, my mom called me one day and was like, ‘Don’t apply to law school. You’ve always loved music. It’s always been an innate thing for you and you’re so passionate about it. Law school will always be there, just see what happens.’ After a couple years of working at a record label and writing—because up until that point, I was fairly certain I just wanted to write songs for other people—I decided to go for it completely.

On writing pop songs:

At first, I struggled with feeling like I didn’t want to be put into any sort of box if I was going to come into making pop music. But then I got to a point where I was like, ‘No one is putting me into a box but myself.’ There are legitimately no rules.

On her new EP:

I have a song called, ‘Mom I’ve Changed,’ and that song is about my mom coming to terms with the fact that I’m leading a less conventional lifestyle than she would’ve hoped for. We’re in a really great place now, but it took us a really long time, because even though she loves the fact that I write music, I think for a long time, her support was sort of contingent upon whether or not I was writing music she approved of. After I moved to LA and ‘found myself,’ she was like, ‘You’ve always been this sweet girl and now you’re showing your boobs to the world in the video!’ There’s a song that I guess, fundamentally, is about loneliness. It’s called ‘Fuck Yourself,’ and it’s about being with someone you know you don’t really like that much, but you also know in that moment you don’t really want to be alone. So you use that person because you’re horny and want sex, but you’re also cognizant of the fact that that person sucks and isn’t right for you. There’s also a song about addiction—not my addiction, but struggling with watching someone you love struggle with addiction, and feeling helpless, but knowing they are the only ones who can help themselves.

On the best advice she’s ever received:

I took a songwriting workshop a couple years ago, and the woman, Susan, who was running the workshop was like, ‘You’re not reinventing human emotion. Everyone feels the same emotions, but it’s the way you choose to express them that’s going to be unique to you.’