I’m waiting outside the Vinnies in Newtown with Boy Soda’s label rep, Sarah. It’s about 11:40a.m. and he’s running 10 minutes late. His Uber cancelled on him.While Vinnies might seem like a strange location for an interview, we’re here because Boy Soda is one stylish son of a bitch. Also, he suggested it. We’re doing something along the lines of “10 Questions With Boy Soda As He Thrifts an Outfit”. Amongst the chaos and noise, and the various people we’ll get in the way of, it’s the only thing that might give the interview a bit of structure.
Because it’s busy in here. People are littered across the clothing racks. Pulling shirts, pants, and dresses off the shelves. When Boy Soda finally arrives with a big bag of clothes and about a dozen shoes for upcoming shoots under his arms, we awkwardly squeeze among the rows as I throw questions in his direction. He doesn’t seem to notice. At one point, he walks around the store barefoot, clothed in thrifting finds, periodically posing in front of mirrors and draping scarves around his head. Other people don’t seem to exist to him –– and I admire that confidence.It’s a carefree attitude that translates over to his music, and especially his music videos (In “Daisy Chains” he eats flowers like it’s a three course meal). It’s a Tyler the Creator-esque, loveable attitude that makes my job easy. But it’s also thoroughly genuine.Boy Soda is especially excited/ tired today because his new mixtape YC-TAPE: Vol. 1 is set for release sometime in the next few days and he’s doing a bunch of PR. In fact, over the last few weeks he’s been cheekily edging fans towards its drop by releasing one single every two days. That includes the slow R&B melody “Body”, playful “Trouble”, high-tastic “3 little piggies” (aside Jordan Dennis and Charbel) and the melting, harmony driven “Strawberry SZN”. It’s a project, according to Boy Soda, that not only hones his idiosyncratic R&B refrain but also a little bit of everything else.
While I sent him off to find an outfit – one, in the end, he describes as “tragic” – I got to know the man behind the name, one that’s been rising to the heights of Australian music for years.
Boy Soda: You’re gonna ask me questions while I do this?VICE: Yes.[Walks to shorts section] Okay. Let’s see if we can find some dad shorts here. Maybe a little Nigel Thornberry moment.Question 1: First Question, what’s your name and where are you from?My name is Brae Luafalealo. I’m from the Central Coast. I make music under Boy Soda. R&B. Hip Hop. I’ve been in Sydney for like 2 years and op shops have been providing.Question 2: Describe your music in one sentence.I think the only common denominator for my music is that I make it. I make R&B music, but this project has everything on it and I think my music will always be like that. That was a long sentence. Ooooh we found a little something. [Black blouse = $14].
First Location: Vinnies Newtown
Question 3: What are the best and worst suburbs in Sydney?Oh my lord. I’ve only been here for 2 years but I know that the culture is definitely inner west and further out west. I’ve played a lot of shows this year and I did one in Parramatta. They’re my people. So I feel like I haven’t explored it fully but don’t take me out East, don’t make me play shows out East. They don’t get R&B out there.
By the way, if I start doing British accents, cut me off. There’s such a high risk of getting through this interview and I’ve done a British accent the entire time cause I was nervous. Question 4: Hah, don’t worry about that. What do you look for when thrifting?At the moment I feel like everyone’s doing straight, baggy silhouettes for the bottom and then I’m liking more fitted things on the top at the moment. Just like old vintage pieces, or stuff with cool patchwork, or stuff that looks like someone lived a life in it before. But also, when I’m at op shops, I’m kind of like: did someone die in these pants? Anyways, sage will fix that.[Boy Soda finds a black leather jacket = $65]
Question 5: Who are your three biggest musical heroes?(groans) Fuck. Top three musical heroes? I’m gonna say Frank [Ocean] cause he did the double album drop and just said, “I’mma fill the contract but I’m just going to release the music that I want”. And then you’ve got people like Brockhampton doing that shit, too. Pharrell [Williams]. Just his ability to exist in so many different spaces and, honestly, just for his bridges and all of The Neptune’s bridges. He’s a hero for that because I chase that feeling every time. Third musical hero, I’m gonna throwback and say Usher, cause there was a song called “Something Special” that my cousin showed me and that was the entire reason I got into R&B. I loved the way that song made me feel, listening to it on Youtube and that’s the feeling I chase when I make music too. I wanna make music that makes me feel that way and other people feel that way and that’s a very definitive starting point for when I started to like R&B and Hip hop music as well. So the top 3 changes all the time but they’re my answers for now.
[turns to rack] Bro, I just need to find a couple more things. I’ve actually got friends that are really fashion inclined that have given me new ways on how to look at things. I used to not think as hard about details or layers or pops of colour and they’re always just looking for extra steps to flesh it out. It's like you’ve got a nice shirt on but let’s just give it a little turtleneck thing underneath just to elevate. Question 6: Okay another question, kinda controversial, you can say no one. Who’s your top musical wanker?.My top what?...wanker? Fuck I don’t like to speak ill of anyone but I don’t know, there’ll be like… Machine Gun Kelly – he doesn’t really do it for me – but I’ll always have respect for everyone. I think you have to have a lot of self belief and talent being in the music industry. And perseverance. As an artist there’s a lot of mind games and self-doubt, so I don’t give a fuck, like I might not connect with your art but I always respect people, you know?If they had leather pants here it would be over. ELVIS IS IN THE BUILDING! Question 7: Okay Boy Soda. How much do you spend on clothes a year?Aha. Firstly, nun’ of ya business. Secondly, probably 52 weeks. 52 payslips. 20 of them. I don’t know. If I see something I like I’ll just buy it and convince myself it’s a legacy piece that I’ll let my children wear… but really it’s probably just emotions I haven’t figured out and I’m replacing that with clothes. But I’m not mad about it. Not mad about it at all.
I just want to try and find a bottom then we’ll be sweet. I feel like a big pleated black dress or something? I need some details and some layers. This all looks like it’s from a funeral. Tragic. There’ll be a lot of aeration if I wear this skirt.[Boy Soda picks up two skirts = price unknown]
Question 8: Okay next question, if you could steal any artist's style who would it be?Ooooh, damn. Who’s a sexy motherfucker? Who dresses sexy? Who's a new age rockstar? [thinks deeply]. Okay, I think I want to dress like Miguel. He’s just always got the layers and that rockstar aesthetic and I remember there was this little series of music videos that he did where he had these cowboy boots on with this stainless steel heel and you could hear him coming before he arrived. Just crazy shit. I learned a lot of my singing texture techniques from him as well. Miguel is a sexy motherfucker, I’d dress like Miguel. For sure.Okay let’s go try these on.
[5 minutes later]Okay, look, we had 10 minutes, I feel like I look like a headmaster who doesn’t like children or something. But the top half has potential and my ass looks phat in this skirt. So thanks Vinnies. [Boy Soda walks over to a mirror, barefoot, with clothes on. He picks up a scarf, slinging it over his shoulder] This feels like a tragedy. Look, we're close. Yeah I don’t know about the skirt. But you know, when you’re at Vinnies you just gotta try it on. I like the top half. I like the little details. Skirt is pending, bruv.
[At Cash Register]This is the part where I ask VICE for money cause I can’t afford this jacket. “What do you mean Boy Soda?” I know, I know. Can I have some money?Total price: Leather Jacket = $65black blouse/ black pullover = $14
After Vinnies we catch an Uber to Boy Soda’s second location of choice:
Boy Soda: Aight we’re here at our second stop, Halo Print Co. These are the homies. I’ve printed a lot of merch with them. Angel [The artist, Neon Belly] and Meagan run it, they’re amazing. They’re the family.
Second Location: Halo Print Co.
[We go inside. Boy Soda picks up shirt]Angel and Meagan just print the craziest things, you can tell Angel gets bored when there’s a shirt that says ‘Lasagna Del Rey’ [laughs]. You know there’s layers to this shit. Question 9: Next question. What is your favourite album of all time?Boy Soda: Oh Jesus. Put me on the spot like that. Damn it VICE.Angel: If you don’t say Blonde [Frank Ocean] I’m gonna throw this water bottle at you.Boy Soda: It’s Blonde or Channel Orange. I feel like everyone says Frank but we can’t deny that that’s the blueprint. I loved 2K R&B growing up but my music mentors were country music artists and producers so I really miss the storytelling aspect in a lot of R&B.
Yeah, I’m gonna say Channel Orange because that was the blueprint. 2012 Itunes album of the year. I bought that shit. First song I listened to was “Pink Matter” with the Andre 3000 feature which was like “Since you been gone, I been having withdrawals/ You were such a habit…”. The vibes. Andre 3000 has the best features ever. EVER. Him and Ty Dolla $ign are my two best feature artists.
Question 10: Last One. What’s your favourite Sydney brand?Boy Soda: Sweet Dreams Bitter Reality.Angel: Oh yes!Boy Soda: Come on now. Nick just has a crazy attention to detail. We’ve got a lot of amazing friends who make clothes but he’s been in it for a minute and his attention to detail. Like… inverse stichting, the buttons will have the brand on it, he just has amazing vision and pumps things out, and I’ve spent all my money on their stuff. For sure.Angel: Alright baby boy. This one’s for you [hands him a Neon Belly shirt]. That’s my latest drop. Do you want this hat as well? It goes with your hair. It’s the second last one [hands him a Neon Belly hat].