In culture that rewards artists for repeating the cycle of churning out creative work and subsequently burning out, BOY SODA is rebelling. As one of the country’s most gifted R&B acts, he’s been on a steady grind over the last few years, focusing on doing and creating what feels authentic and true to him.
The latest iteration of his creativity is a five-part series made in collaboration with Converse, Soda Sessions. Each episode features an artist-on-artist conversation between Boy Soda and another Australian R&B artist, as well as a performance of one their unreleased tracks.
The Sessions were born out of his desire to curate a space where artists could express their creativity in a casual, low-stakes way. The line-up of guests includes pillars of the AU R&B scene: Cyrus, Billymaree, Ruby Jackson and BoomChild. The series kicked off August 2nd with the first guest, Cyrus.
Complex AU sat down with Boy Soda at a camp in Byron Bay hosted by Converse, exclusively for Converse All Stars, to chat about Soda Sessions, the state of R&B in Australia, and making music for himself.
Tell me about Soda Sessions. Why did you decide to make it?
I've wanted to do it for like two years, man. I’ve been building my discography and was really focused on that for a while, but I’m now at a point in my career where I'm taking a second to breathe and focus on enjoying the moment. So yeah, this project happened at the right time.
In terms of where the idea came from, I have all these demos where I’ve collaborated with other artists and we’ve made an amazing song, but it hasn’t come out for whatever reason. So Soda Sessions is just a way to show people what’s in everyone’s vaults.
I know you collaborated with Converse on this as well. As a Converse All Star you’ve worked closely with them on various projects over the last few years. Tell me more about working on Soda Sessions with them.
Yeah, working with Converse has been amazing and they helped bring this idea to life. I wanted the Sessions to be my version of Mahogany Sessions and Tiny Desk, and to make something like that here in Australia. I also wanted to be able to do it in a beautiful space. So yeah, being able to make it all happen is crazy. Me and Converse have been in an amazing relationship throughout the years, so it was nice to have this mind baby that we could deliver together.
I can tell that putting people on and fostering community is something that really matters to you. In terms of you being an artist, I get the sense that obviously you want to make money from what you’re doing, but that it’s not the only goal. Would you say that’s accurate?
Yeah, man. If it was about just making money, I would have given up ages ago. I want people to see the R&B and soul talent that lives in Australia, which honestly—we’re quite the minority in music landscape here.
To be honest, I get quite exhausted feeling like I have a responsibility to build the scene up. But what I’m doing with the Sessions—building the scene just happens as a by-product of it. It contributes to the culture in an important way, and all the people in the Sessions are people who I think are pillars in the R&B and soul scene in this country.
Being an R&B or soul artist in Australia is tough. How do you find the motivation to keep doing what you’re doing?
I've kind of protected my craft in the sense that I do it for me. Like I know that the reason I was put on this earth was to create, and right now my favourite form of [creating] is music. So being received [by people] is not my end goal. And I’m the same with shows—I only care about having fun in my little sphere and if the audience doesn't vibe and if it sounds bad, I’m still protecting that experience—I’m still having a great time.
Another crazy thing about you is that you can rap. Hip-hop garners a wider listenership in Australia, and you could easily just be a rapper, but you’ve stuck with R&B because it feels right for you.
Yeah, I lowkey can rap! But I care about what I like to make, which is R&B, and I care about my longevity as an artist. So I'm aware of what feels natural to me and what doesn't. I feel like I’m at a stage in my career where I've gotten better at discerning what's really me and what isn't. I make decisions about songs and genres based on feeling, and what comes naturally based on what I want to say. So rap comes up when I’m trying to say things a bit more literally, or when I’m angry, or being a bit obnoxious, or in a bit more of a storytelling mode—but I never force it. But if I sing a melody that sounds better, I’ll do that.
Who do you make your music for?
Me—and I think saying that scares [artists] a lot. I think a lot of artists are scared to say that, because they want to say that they make music that other people can relate to, and I definitely think that’s a beautiful by-product of making music, but I’m selfish [laughs]. I do what makes me happy.
Yeah, I think being selfish often has a negative connotation when it comes to people making art. I think there’s a lot of pressure on artists to be relatable, and make relatable art. Would you agree?
Yeah, I definitely think being selfish shouldn’t always have a negative connotation. Sometimes we don’t realise we have to be selfish until our cup is empty. And I’ve learnt that a few times over. So yeah, these days I jump a bit quicker at being selfish, because I think it’s an act of self-love. I feel like it’s easy as an artist to just go go go, release as much as you can, and then burn out. You fall into a bit of a depressive slump for a bit and feel uninspired, and then feel good again and feel inspired—and then the cycle repeats. But I’m taking my time.
You can find out more about the Converse All Stars Program here.