Bobo - Pop Mystique

Pop-mystique, Bobo, graced Musically Proper with an exclusive interview about her excellent debut album for Hel AudioSmoke In The Elevator.

MP: What is your relationship with Karl and Hel Audio? What do you think about their direction and impact on the Salt Lake Music City scene?

Bobo: Karl is my brother. It’s been very cool to see how he’s shaped Hel from its onset.  I feel really lucky that he wanted to release a project of mine because I think it’s both an exciting label AND an exciting time for the label.  I can’t personally attest for Hel’s impact on the Salt Lake City music scene because I don’t live there, but I’ve definitely heard second-handedly that Hel’s impact is REAL.

MP: Is there a concept behind the name Bobo and the cover art selected for the album? The cover art is very appealing.

Bobo: No, no concept.  The name just sort of appeared in my brain when I was first experimenting with chopping samples in Audacity a handful of years ago.  Thought I would go with this unbridled, stupid instinct instead of overthinking it.  As for the cover art, I knew I wanted something kind of bright and mysterious.  It took a few rounds of self-timer photo shoots with a borrowed camera and a fog machine and several rounds with Karl doing design stuff to finally get it.  It was the most excruciating part of the album for me, honestly, but I had good help and I like how it turned out.     

MP: What were some of the difficulties you faced, if any, transitioning from acoustic music to working with computer software? What inspired that transition?

Bobo: There was a definite learning curve that I faced in figuring out how to work in Ableton, but since I had experience recording myself on analog gear and using a simple, intuitive program like Audacity in the past, I had some contextual knowledge with which to place the new technology.  Honestly, the whole process has been epiphanic and liberating.  Playing the guitar was convenient, but I never felt at ease playing it, or felt attached to the specific sound of it, or had any interest in trying to get better at playing it.  I am much happier making music now.

MP: Tell me about some of the themes expressed in Smoke In The Elevator. From crying in bathroom stalls, to detention or the hero / uncool juxtaposition on “Quiet Wire” (amazing song) and even a request for a guiding hand on “Turn Around” it seems like there’s a focus on a youthful state of being or mind. Definitely like teenager themes but expressed in a very mature way.

Bobo: I have some vague ideas of themes now that I wasn’t super conscious of while writing the album.  I think it’s sort of a conversation with myself.  Even a lyric like, “I need you to lead the way,” is a demand I make to myself.  Every once in a while I remember thinking of Cate Blanchett as Galadrielhaving that scary ego-freakout, sort of reckoning herself with the power of The One Ring, facing her shadow self and surviving.  Also, the Cheap Trick lyric, “Surrender/Surrender/But don’t give yourself away.”

MP: When I listen to your album I can immediately see comparisons to female musicians like Jenny Hval on her new album, Lykke Li and Grimes, which is a compliment. The only immediate difference I can recognize is that Bobo is a lo-fi project. What did you want Bobo to sound like when you first envisioned the project, and how does lo-fi recording play a role in achieving that vision?

Bobo: I didn’t have a stylistic vision for Bobo.  I just started making songs and tried to seek cohesion along the way. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like people have pegged me as lo-fi as if I’m actively aiming for that effect.  I mean, my music is lo-fi, technically speaking, but I don’t think lo-fi is inherently cool.  I’m really just trying to make the best songs that I can and the technical side of music production is something I’m hoping to get better and better at.

MP: What’s next for Bobo?

Bobo: There are plans for a music video.  I’m trying to figure out how I would like to perform live.  Also, a techno collaboration with UTA TRAX is in the works!  But first, I really need to get this one wisdom tooth extracted :’(