Interview: Binoy on Hot New Track ‘Boyhood’
We caught up with Binoy to talk about Boyhood a singer/songwriter with a penchant for creating cinematic pop music.
Born and raised in Kenya to Indian and Sri Lankan immigrant parents, Binoy is a singer / songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. Being raised around an amalgamation of cultures enabled Binoy to a variety of sounds and musical perspectives not often found in Western music.
Shaped by idols including Taylor Swift, Fleetwood Mac, and Mika, Binoy uses his songwriting abilities to authentically represent his experiences and feelings as a queer person of color.
Tell us about the Boyhood Single and what it means to you.
Boyhood is an exploration of masculinity, and how from a young age we are indoctrinated with ideas of how to be. I think the adolescent male experience is littered with moments of coldness and roughness, which often grow into a rigid foundation of what it means to be a man.
So much of that rigidity has come tumbling down as I’ve gotten older and grown into my queer identity, prompting me to make Boyhood. One of the biggest challenges I faced while writing the song was picking exactly what I wanted to say. In short, it tells the story of a boy at odds with himself, his classmates, and his family.
My production partner Arthur and I used samples of monkeys and other animals to create a jungle soundscape beneath all of the pop production, giving further life and movement to the track. Towards the end, we dive into this otherworldly passage of alt-pop and Sanskrit fusion, which not only pays homage to my Indian heritage but also symbolizes the grit, grandeur, and chaos that is boyhood.
How long have you been making music and how did you get started?
I started playing piano when I was just 6 years old, and from there went on to learn saxophone and clarinet. Although neither of my parents played instruments, music was always a feature in my house growing up, and they definitely saw the value in encouraging my sister and I to learn new skills. Soon enough I was playing in jazz bands and orchestras, slowly beginning to understand the fundamentals of songwriting and composition.
My passion fully took off as a university student living in London, where I decided to approach a boutique studio in Soho to finally bring some of my ideas to life. It didn’t quite go as expected, but from this experience I gained the certainty that I wanted to pursue making music as a career, so I made my way to Los Angeles and haven’t looked back since!
Who are the artists that inspire you to make music?
Taylor Swift has been a hugely formative artist in my life and career. Despite having very different identities and life experiences, her writing has always resonated with me in a profound way. That in and of itself is huge, because it shows how universal the emotions that we write about are.
In reality, I should have very little in common with a white woman who grew up in Pennsylvania, yet her music has felt like a constant and immovable companion to me for over a decade and a half.
There are a few other artists that I was introduced to at a young age that left a mark on my artistry, including ABBA, Fleetwood Mac, and MIKA. With all of these artists, there’s a sincerity present in their lyricism and general being that I find aspirational.
Who would you love to collaborate with in the future and what’s next on your musical bucket list?
There are a few producers who have really captured my attention recently. I’ve loved Mike Sabath for years and I’m a huge fan of what he contributed to Raye’s recent debut album.
Carter Lang is another multi instrumentalist and producer who I think is extremely talented and one to watch in general.
As far as personal goals, next up for me is definitely a debut album. Creating a cohesive body of work as large as an album is its own beast to wrangle, but I finally feel ready and up to the task. I have a great musical family around me helping bring the ideas to life, so I’m honestly very excited to see what we end up with.
What are your favorite haunts? (To eat, to go out, to get culture)
When I lived in London, I had a few beloved spots that I would frequent. Bao in Soho / Bloomsbury has a small but beautifully edited menu for Taiwanese fare. Satay House in Paddington is a hidden gem and home to one of the best Malaysian beef rendang’s you’re likely to try.
For a special occasion, Amaya in Knightsbridge creates contemporary interpretations of classic Indian flavors and dishes, while Hunan in Pimlico offers a chef’s tasting menu of seasonal tapas-style Chinese food.
Something I miss about being in London is the West End, and how accessible most shows were through last-minute tickets.
Another favorite activity was renting a Santander Cycles and riding around Hyde Park, weather permitting of course.
Finally, if you’re ever in Los Angeles I highly recommend coming over to the East Side, namely Silver Lake and Echo Park. There are lots and lots of great restaurants, cafes, and independent art shows on this side of town.
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like free, cheap & offbeat London, especially: cabaret, art, theatre, pop-ups, eating out, quirky films, museums, day trips, social enterprise & much more.