- Jordan Rosen
Interview with Boygrim: His influences, collaborators, and genre-bending hyperpop style
LA-based hyperpop artist Boygrim doesn't fit the traditional hyperpop mold, influenced by Warped Tour metal, his interdisciplinary talent in the creative fields, and the creatives around him
Beginning his music career years ago, Boygrim's extensive discography has recently culminated in the release of his 4-song EP "Kiss Me Before I Die." The EP is filled with clean and catchy guitar tones layered with the punchy, jarring percussion and deep, distorted bass sounds that have come to define the hyperpop genre, with its tracks featuring the 22 year-old artist's emotional and purposeful lyrics and melody. Boygrim is next up in hyperpop, and will only rise in the coming months and years with new music and exciting live performances soon to be on the way. With a supporting cast of videographers, photographers, and management behind him not only as creative collaborators but as friends, the sky is the limit for Boygrim's potential.
We spoke to Boygrim about his beginnings in music, the influences he has for his project, his creative process, creativity, and future career moves. Read the interview below.
Introduce yourself to our audience!
What’s going on! I’m Boygrim, I’m 22, I live in LA, and I make music—mostly hyperpop and Anti-Pop shit, but kind of segueing into more of a chill pop kind of shit. I got a lot of shit coming so it’s all over the place—I love doing everything.
So, you started making music around seven years ago in high school, can you talk about those beginnings in music, what influenced you to start making music, and how that all started up?
Yeah exactly—seven years ago, high school, I fuckin’ was not the person for school, really, I mean I have horrible ADHD and a really bad ability to hold onto a lot of memory, so basically I was in class and taking all my general education—as you do in high school—and my elective was music and my options were to learn the tuba, the saxophone, or the fuckin’ trumpet. I was like “Yo, no offense to anybody that plays those, like, they’re hard as fuck. I lowkey wish I did that, but I’m not interested in this.” And I asked my teacher if I could learn how to use Garageband and just record shit on the microphone. I think it was a [Focusrite] Solo that I was using back then, and I’m still using a Solo as an interface, but I think it was a Solo back then, too. But she was cool with it, she was like, “Yeah you can do that.” Basically back then I was listening to a lot of Logic, and a lot of Kyle, and Blackbear as well. I was super inspired by those kinds of sounds, so I was kind of trying to pick pieces from them, and trying to get ideas of what I wanted to do with my music from them. So with Logic, I really wanted to be rapping more, so a lot of my first demos were more rap shit—I was very much like lyrical miracle like bullshit. Then, when I found different artists, like Blackbear, I found him and a couple other artists, then I started to get into more kind-of-experimental, weird, just really shitty music, but it was fun at the time and I was enjoying it. That’s what I was doing when I first started, and then I wound up having a friend who was in a band and he was like, “Yo, I’ll record you at my house.” So, from then I recorded with him and another friend and we had a little group, and then that group ended up splitting up, but it’s all good, we’re all homies still, and then the dude that recorded me—his name is Chris—he did all the mixing on this last project, he’s my GOAT, he’s super sick. He forever has helped me and pushed me recording-wise and all that kind of stuff. Just recently I was able to get in contact with new people—I have a manager now, 40ShotIt—GOAT—he’s also really helped push me and has given me that audience that I need by just being like, “You need to do this, you need to be on top of your shit!” and I’m like “Fuck! He’s right!” Because before I dropped this tape, it had been two years since I dropped an album. I was like, “Albums are cool” but in reality when you’re nobody starting off nobody gives a fuck. It did decent, but I was still very lost as far as music goes, but I feel like this year I’m really finding what my sound is and finding out what I want to do. It’s really sick.
With the new music taking parts of those old influences but incorporating a lot of new sounds, who are those new influences that brought you there? In your sound I hear a lot of Brakence, I hear a lot of Glaive and these hyperpop artists. So, how would you define your sound, and who were the artists that brought you there?
For sure, Brakence definitely had an influence. Just hearing him I was like, “Woah this is so different.” Just the whole Overcast Youtube page. I was watching Overcast shit for a while, and the way I found them was through somebody through SoundCloud and they had this video on there, and me and that person are still friends, and they had somebody that got signed to Internet Money that was on there and I was like “What the fuck!” So then through there I found Brakence, and through Brakence I looked and found Glaive. A lot of the younger hyperpop crowd has very much inspired me and brought me to the hyperpop light. I wouldn’t have found so many artists if I didn’t follow Overcast which is super dope—so shout out them—but I’ve been listening to Aries for a really long time too, and just the way he writes and the way that he produces in general I was like, “This guy is really fucking sick” so I kind of took inspiration from how he samples or how he records a certain way by just watching his videos and kind of learning that way. Also at the same time, I grew up listening to mostly metal music, and you know what Warped Tour is? I went from 2014 to 2018 and then I think they shut it down, but I had been going to those and I’m honestly more inspired by that kind of music. Yeah, there’s obviously going to be the more generic hyperpop sound behind me, but the writing style that I came from was that metal music. I think that’s kind of what draws me apart from the other artists. I’m inspired by them, but I take the influence and I’m like “Okay, yeah, this is what’s kind of popular right now. Let me see what I can do to make it my own.” That way I’m not just blatantly biting off of other artists. There are people in this scene that take that shit and just become that same artist, and I want to stand out a little bit, so let me mix two genres and make my own shit and really stand out.
When making your own sound, and creating this new sound by mixing these metal elements and these rap elements and hyperpop elements, what is your creative process in doing that? Where do you start, how do you start producing it, how do you start laying down your vocals, your melodies, your writing, and what’s the creative process behind that?
For a while, like in 2020 when I was recording, the process was very much to sit down, listen to the beat a million times, and write. That slowly fizzled away from me, and now what I do is my producer Zak—prod. Zak, he did that last three songs on the EP “i think they’re watching me,” “fever dream,” and “violent”—he’s super dope, and I met him through a friend in college and what we’ll do is we’ll get on Discord and sit down and listen to it together or I’ll be by myself and just hum a melody, and once I have an idea of what I want to write about then I’ll go for it. In all honesty I don’t sit down and have a feeling and be like “I’m gonna write about this.” Sometimes it’ll come out of nowhere, like I’m just upset or angry, or maybe I’m not even any of those emotions but I want to be—I don’t know how to explain it—but when I was writing Violent, Zak had sent me on Snapchat videos of him doing the beats and I’m like “Woah that sounds crazy!” and then the next one was him and he was like “Wash away my sins” and that was it. I was like “Woah! Yo, send me that!” Every time he makes something I’m like “Send me that.” But he was like “Wash away my sins” and I was like “Dude you gotta send me that, that’s crazy and I feel like we can go dumb.” Basically, I would just do one takes, just as much as I could in one singular take, and then I’ll pick apart from there and take the best parts. I’ll show Chris as well, and Chris has been like “^his song has potential. Let’s record it, but let’s rework it and let’s restructure it,” so it’s not just me—I have a lot of people that help touch the song just to get that outside opinion. It’s me, it’s Zak, it’s Chris, it’s my other producer AJ, it’s [40ShotIt]—40’s helped out with “you’re what caused this,” he really helped with the ending, I was really trying to figure out how I wanted it to end and he was there watching it and I was like “Yo, I don’t know what to do” and he makes music as well so he was like “Yo do it like this” and then we kind of bounced around and made a way through that and that was fire—so it’s a lot of just me sitting down sometimes in this room and just going, but there’s also the other side of it which is being on Discord and hanging out with my friends and then being like “Oh I’m gonna record” and they’ll watch and be like “Oh you should do it like this.”
It seems like it’s a big collaborative process, and it seems like through your social media and everything, you really pay attention to shouting out all of your collaborators, even going as far as saying “I would not be doing this without my friends.” Where are you meeting these collaborators, and you’ve kind of touched on the role they have in your music, but how do you see them playing into your artistry and your process going forward?
Off bat, Chris, that’s been my best friend since—I don’t even know anymore—I think we met when we were 14-15. It’s funny, because when we first met we actually had beef. I had another friend who told both of us that we didn’t like each other, so then we just assumed we didn’t like each other. Then two years later, we were like “Wait, you’re cool what the fuck?” so then we become really close homies. He’s just been there through the recording processes and also through the mixing processes, and the mastering and all that shit. He’s always got a really good ear for that kind of thing. Like I said, he’s in a band—his band is Avoid Kickass or just Avoid on Spotify and they’re killer man, they’re doing crazy shit and they work with dope ass people—so he knows the industry pretty well and he’s given me a lot of advice this past year. Same thing with AJ, that’s like my boy, he’s helped out a lot. Not with this project as much because he’s been really busy as well—he’s starting a new band RESIDER and they’re going dumb, they’re about to go crazy—but he helped a lot with the last projects and just having him as a friend he’s always been there for me to fall back onto and talk to and all that shit about really anything, not even music related. With 40, I just recently met him. It’s kind of funny, because I do music videos or photos on the side just because collaboration is very inspiring to me—I love working with new people and meeting new people, I’m a people person, it makes it more interesting for me rather than just sitting alone and making a song—I was doing photo for a video that he was shooting and I didn’t know who he was and I was taking a picture of him, and the homie that I was there for sent everybody the pictures and he was like “Yo, did you take this picture?” and I was like “Yeah” and he was like “This shit’s hard” and I was like “Oh, thanks!” and he was like “You’re a hyperpop artist?” and I was like “Yeah” and he’s like “Alright, what are you doing?” and then we just kicked it, and I was like “Yo, this dude is really similar to me, we have similar interests.” His music is more of the rap side of shit for what he videotapes and records—he’s a videographer so he makes like crazy music videos and shit like that—so it was cool to get that side of it. Also, he was like “Oh I do this hyperpop shit too” and I was like “Oh, what the fuck? I would’ve never expected that!” and we became really close and now he’s like my manager and mentor and anytime I’m like “I don’t know what to do for this” he’ll be like “Do this. Don’t do that. Oh that person? Nah, fuck them” and I’m like “Alright, you’re right, this is all kind of lining up and now things are going the way I expect them to go.” I met Zak through a friend at college and he’s been super, super dope—right now he’s in finals week so I don’t blame him—but he’s been really consistent with I think around 40-50 songs that we just have laying around either finished or not finished, like completed or touched or whatever. He’s been super consistent—a few months ago he was sending me six beats a day and I was like “Bro what the fuck this is insane.” Everybody that’s been helping out and touching the projects or giving advice on the projects, they’ve all been super helpful and it’s just wild because [with] this EP, only two of the songs are new—the other ones have been written for two years since I finished the last project but I didn’t know what that sound was, then as soon as hyperpop started taking its little rise I was like “Oh this kind of fits in” so it kind of worked out like that.
You touched on your interdisciplinary talents between editing your own videos, some of them, and photography, and I’ve seen that you’re into 3D art as well and digital art and drawing. How does that play into your artistry as a musician or outside of musicianship? Do you hope to continue doing those other avenues of interdisciplinary art?
I’m a super creative person so I think anything creative I will do. With drawing or with having an understanding of video editing—I don’t mix and master yet but I’d like to eventually but I do the production of vocal chops or vocal melodies I make those and do that and just have learned through my friends—I think it definitely has a huge role on the music side of it because I’m able to be like “Oh, I want to wear a certain outfit. How is that gonna look and what is that gonna convey?” I’ll sit down and just go on my iPad and draw out a sheet or I’ll draw out shot ideas that I have like “Oh this would be sick.” Also, with doing the video stuff, I’m in a Discord “LabTheory” and there’s a bunch of crazy talented people in here that I’m working with now. This year is going to be crazy, really, we do have some special shit—I don’t want to talk about it too much but it’s very, very special and insane, and I’ve had a lot of help learning new shit with the video stuff, but it also helps me—since I know some of it—it helps me have a realistic goal for a video rather than being like “I have no idea what’s going on. I want a video where I’m fucking floating in space.” I know what’s achievable and I know what’s not. With the 3D art and the photo especially, photo is something that I really love doing. It’s just a good way for me to convey what I want, and when I have photographers—I have a photographer whose name is ColtonSucks and then I have a photographer who I’m looking to work with soon RioShoots and they’re both really talented and it's gonna be dope to show what I’ve been doing with Colton and it’s gonna be dope to finally shoot with Rio—having the ability to shoot myself I know exactly what I want out of it, I just know that it’s gonna be a different product from somebody else so it’s cool to see it through their eyes.
Shifting topics to live performance, I know you’ve done some shows in the past, but what can someone expect from a Boygrim live show? What goals do you hope to achieve in the live side of things, do you have any dream venues to play, and what’s the vibe of a Boygrim live show?
The vibe is definitely—the one thing that I hate when I go to a show is when the performer has no interaction with the audience and it sucks because you go there to see this person and there will be people there with signs or people that are like “Oh I love you” or whatever and the performer is just like- not full of himself—obviously you’re an artist you have to do that kind of shit—but I think that when there is more shows in the future everybody is very welcomed in and I talk to anybody. If anybody wants to talk to me, I try to be very humble and down to earth, like yeah I’m an artist and this is what I want to do with my future and obviously there might be a point where that might be hard to communicate with everybody, but anybody that shows me any kind of love, I really do take my time to get to know them and understand who they are and why they like what I’m doing. That way I can see from their perspective and understand how to better myself and make more people want to be connected. I mean I go pretty fucking dumb—I think my music is very easy to headbang to, I think it’s very easy to feel emotion from, so I try to make sure that I’m conveying myself emotionally very physically. I want people to be like “Oh this dude’s fucking weird like creepy, but I understand why.” I’ll move around a lot, and in music videos you’ll see—in the last video I was banging my head against the back of this chair because I’m supposed to be insane—I very much am a very physically vocal person. I will convey my emotions through my body language so that people understand what I am trying to get across.
So where does the name Boygrim come from? Is it a story? Was it just some random name generator? There’s so many different name generation stories from so many different artists, so where does Boygrim come from?
It’s so funny, because I’m not a fan of possession movies or horror movies like that, but I love slashers and thrillers and shit that’ll just keep you on your toes and be like “Oh fuck,” like edge of your seat kind of shit, but I had a name previously and it was kind of on the same side of a “grim” vibe, but it was like “Lil,” and I was like “We’ve got to move past- it’s not 2016 anymore! We’ve got to move past that!” So in 2017 or 2018 is when I officially changed it. I was working with somebody and basically was like “I’m thinking of changing my name to Grimboy” and they were just like “Yeah…” and I was like “Yeah… or maybe Boygrim” and they were like “Yeah that’s probably better” and I’m like “Yeah that one’s way better.” It was just that pretty much, pretty quick and simple. I don’t know where the idea came from, honestly. I know for sure I wanted it to be Grimboy before, but then he was like “Ehh…” and I was like “Ohh you know what? Just flip that around and that works even better.” I don’t know, it’s got a nice little ring to it. It’s short, simple, easy to remember. I see a lot of people, especially in the hyperpop scene—which is fine, no hate at all, I love interesting names, there’s some crazy ass names out there—but I think if you give people something that’s not too intricate or there’s no numbers, or there’s no “Lil,” it’s just one simple thing, I think it’s easier for people to latch onto and understand the vibe off rip. When you hear Boygrim you’re obviously going to have a grim kind of side of things, so you’re like “Hmm I wonder what this is. It’s obviously gonna have dark tones to it” and then you hear it and you’re like “Yup that makes sense.”
Definitely. You’re based in LA now, right?
Do you hope to stay there and build your career from LA, do you have other aspirations, and within LA what are you taking from the surrounding scene and how does that influence your sound going forward?
I mean LA is really cool—I’ve been out here for I think a year now. I’m originally from San Diego. I do plan on going back to San Diego just because I'd like to be around my family a little bit more and also be around the friends I grew up with. I still go down there a lot and make the hour and thirty minute drive to go down there, but it’s almost easier for me to stay down there then come up here than it is vice versa, so I’m hoping to do that soon, maybe end of the summer or something like that. But, the LA scene has definitely pushed me to keep making music because I’ve made so many connections like with [40ShotIt]. I met this dude Commie who’s making some crazy ass edits, I met McDouble and he’s out in I wanna say South or North Dakota, and they’re pretty far but from [40ShotIt] I’ve met an umbrella of different people that have so many different talents that if I wasn’t out here, I would’ve never gotten that, and if I wasn’t out here I might not have had that same inspiration to do what I’m doing now and I might’ve given up on this shit. I definitely have—like everybody’s done something creative and been like “I’m gonna quit this shit”—so being out here has definitely given me that inspiration, or it has lit the fire and made me want to keep going and make new shit because it is reassuring when people are like “Yo, this is sick” or “Yo, this is crazy.” I’ll even have people shit on me on Instagram or fucking TikTok or something, and then sometimes if I’m an asshole I’ll be an asshole, but most of the time I’m like “Oh I appreciate you reaching out and telling me what you think about it” and then sometimes they’ll listen and DM me and be like “Yo, I listened to your shit and it’s actually pretty sick. I was just trolling and dadada..” and I’m like “Alright bro, fuck it you know like, I get it, shit man, just don’t wanna see me win and then you listen and you’re like ‘Oh fuck I shouldn’t have said that.’”
It’s fan behavior, that’s what it is.
So besides a potential move back down to San Diego and your tease of new music coming, what’s next for Boygrim? What’s going on?
I want to keep milking this EP a little bit more. Like I said, there is some cool stuff in the works for this—there’s lots. I’m really excited to get there and show what it is, and then after this I’ve got a couple singles and I’ve got a basic idea of what I want the next project to be about, but since I dropped this EP I’d like to do a couple singles and roll those out because obviously it’s a little easier to pitch a single. Just more story-based shit. This is all very conceptual, that’s kind of how I view music: it’s all a story and I want to tell a story whether it’s fiction or nonfiction—and a lot of the stuff that I write is nonfiction because it’s just easier to write about. I would say to expect a lot. A lot of really, really crazy shit. For sure gonna have minds melted and people being like “What the fuck did I just see and witness.” That’s what I would say for sure.