boylife's Nervous Honesty Is a Much-Needed Slice of Comfort
Everyone has a love language, whether it's affirming words or grandiose gifts. To boylife, it's giving the gift of music, through which he aims to express thoughts people are "afraid to say or didn't know how to verbalize. And with this," he explains in an interview with Paramind, "I have a way of loving people even if I die tomorrow."
Los Angeles native boylife, born Ryan Yoo, is not new to love languages. Yoo's parents are first generation immigrants from Korea. Through any instances of generational and cultural divide or emotional tides throughout Yoo's life, his parents' love language was food - specifically, sliced fruit. This sentiment from Yoo's childhood inspired his debut single, "peas."
The song starts with a sustained sparkly chord as the vocals begin in a low register and gently climb up, as if gathering the courage to ask a series of earnest, long-awaited questions like the opening lyric, "What do you keep from me in your silence?" The vocals then relinquish their search for an answer and instead offer comfort, admitting, "You're still my baby / Living in a cold, cold word... I could peel peaches for when you wake up." With a resonance reminiscent of Frank Ocean and an Allen Stone-like vibrato, Yoo's vocal melody invites a reverberant guitar riff that, like the switch between questions and consolation, repeats throughout the song.
Though "peas" is boylife's debut single, this is not Yoo's first time releasing music. He is half of the duo Common Souls with Nick Velez, who also helps bring the boylife songs to fruition. He also plays in the band mmmonika. Nonetheless, Yoo admits his solo project, boylife, "honestly sounds like what's inside."
He certainly does not shy away from honesty, conceding to Paramind, "If I’m not a little nervous and awkward about the idea of other people hearing it, I wasn’t honest enough." While he explains this could alienate some people, it can also be equally isolating "when people around you can’t share an intense experience or emotion."
And his second release, "bummy!" made the cut. The follow-up single enters with warm ragtime piano, growing layers of cinematic strings, and an epic synth bass that rambles with urgency. A drum fill cues the groove and Yoo's pitched-down vocal singing "Top down, sinking with my thoughts down."
The energy throughout "bummy!" frequently shifts between Yoo's singing, rapping, and shouting in an angsty release. The powerful dynamic could be an embodiment of Yoo's experiences with bipolar syndrome. When asked about his creative process in an interview with The New Nine, Yoo vividly explains "It usually starts with a deep depression... I just blackout for three days and wake up with tears streaming down my cheeks and a song in my brain. I... let my convulsing thumbs type nonsense into my Notes app (with autocorrect on) and retrofit the ensuing poetry with melodies."
Though Yoo is a part of multiple wonderful projects, we are so glad he added boylife to his repertoire and let his childhood inform its essence. Through his music, boylife reminds us we're not alone in facing our most brazen feelings, bringing us all the comfort of sliced fruit. And boy, do we feel the love.
Listen to "bummy!" below: