BOSCO sits in a room inside Toronto’s Mod Club. Knapsacks and duffle bags crowd the floor around her gold Reebok sneakers as she FaceTimes her mom. She is clad in a sporty lime green long sleeve, a transparent raincoat and tall socks decorated with American dollar bills. Her hair a basket of blonde and brown waves.
“Hi, I love your hair,” she says to me. “Come say hi to my mom.” We’ve just met, but I’ve already been introduced to the fam.
“Hello!” Mama BOSCO says jubilantly. “Give her a hug for me and tell her it’s going to be OK.” As mothers tend to do, she’s found a way to console her daughter from miles away using me as the vessel.
“I feel like now we’re in an age of technology where fluidity is the key to success.”
BOSCO, a Savannah, Georgia-raised singer/songwriter, is fresh off her first show in the 6ix for Canadian Music Week, having opened up for international songstress Yuna. Through the whirl wind of travel and the forgetfulness of the average human brain she mistakenly refers to the city as Detroit during her performance. She’s pretty torn up about it as the news has already made it to Twitter. Luckily BOSCO has a stage presence that swept the audience out of their puzzled expressions and into a welcomed audio seduction.
Listening to BOSCO’s music for the first time is like unearthing a stream of connected stories, each with totally unexpected settings. You may find yourself tangled in a tainted love story like on “BOY”, a track off her 2014 debut EP of the same name, where her voice is wrapped in a dreamy backdrop and rhythmic synths as she contemplates the faithfulness of a lover. In the next moment, you could just as easily be voguing like Madonna to the electro-dance beat of “Names”, a track produced by BOSCO’s label-mate Treasure Fingers. BOSCO’s experimental approach to her craft has allowed her to create a path of her own, one that can’t be simplified with genre labels.
“For years people said, ‘she’s an R&B singer, or a jazz singer or a funk singer, electronic, indie, ambient or retro.’ I’m all of these things,” BOSCO says. “I feel like now we’re in an age of technology where fluidity is the key to success.”
“It was all about the story. I was selling the story and my journey.”
This chameleon-like quality is evident across all platforms of her work, not just her discography. BOSCO has been known to take pride in being a ‘do it yourself’ (DIY) artist. This not only means singing and writing her own songs, but creating visuals, marketing the music and pushing herself as a brand. As an artist trying to break into the music industry in the late 2000s, BOSCO had to rely on a lot more than just having a SoundCloud account and a popping Instagram page.
The turn of the decade welcomed a major evolution in the music industry. While today resources available to upcoming artists are plentiful, these platforms were pretty scarce just a handful of years back. Despite not having certain resources accessible at the swipe of a finger, BOSCO was still able to make noise in Atlanta.
After dropping out of the Savannah College for Art and Design in her fourth year, BOSCO moved to Atlanta to pursue a career in music. There she began developing an in-house team of like-minded individuals to help execute new ideas for the music.
“It made me learn how to navigate with fewer resources so now when I have resources [I can] really turn up on hoes.”
“People were very instrumental in my life during that time. We would think of really creative ways to market the music and get it out there whether it was digital media or very interesting packaging — it was all about the story. I was selling the story and my journey.”
BOSCO told Paper magazine in a 2015 interview that her camp would orchestrate pop-up shops and art shows across Atlanta, securing sponsors and creating their own visuals to gain recognition from the community.
“It was the true essence of DIY and trying to figure out how to make this shit pop by yourself,” explains BOSCO, later adding, “I feel like because I came out at a very intricate time I was forced to think of creative ways to market myself. I didn’t necessarily have the tools or the resources to do that.”
“I think my story is showing young people an alternative lifestyle.”
Even though BOSCO had a rich chemistry with the Atlanta music scene, in 2014 she flipped the page in her career and headed for New York, Paper reported. She managed to woo Canadian DJ/producer, A-Trak, who vibed with BOSCO’s music and later signed her to his label, Fool’s Gold. For BOSCO, Fool’s Gold was the perfect home to help nurture her multifaceted talent while still allowing her and her team to have control over the musical content. She was able to maintain that do it yourself quality that played such a huge role in cultivating her identity as an artist.
“Things have changed so much from then to now, but I don’t regret it because it made me who I am today. It made me learn how to navigate with fewer resources so now when I have resources [I can] really turn up on hoes.”
It took a combination of artistic experimentation and unwavering drive for BOSCO to arrive at this moment in her career. She recently released a collaborative mixtape with Atlanta DJ, Speakerfoxxx, titled Girls in the Yard that’s loaded with hymns of female empowerment over funk-inspired rhythms and she’s travelling so much that, as previously noted, she’s mixing up the names of the cities she’s in.
“I think my story is showing young people an alternative lifestyle,” she says. “You really don’t have to work for somebody for 30 years . . . you can really do this shit yourself if you put in the time.”
Photos © Sadé Powell + Urbanology Magazine