Gen Z has no time for labels. This has already shown itself in the manner that “zoomers” (barf!) have helped to question and challenge rigid gender and sexuality norms more so than any other generation before them. A desire to not be categorized is also evident in Gen Z’s approach to making music.
Bored of stubborn, immovable sonic boundaries that offer little to no space for experimentation, Gen Z creatives have shifted away from a fixed to a fluid artistry that doesn’t simply defy the rules of genre, but abolishes them altogether.
One such artist is Boyu, the genreless upstart whose Spotify bio cooly reads as follows: “Too pop for the indie kids, too indie for the pop kids.”
Hailing from Los Angeles, Boyu was initially trained in classical piano before turning his attention to drums, guitar, and digital production.
With this newfound range of tools at his disposal, Boyu set about releasing his debut single, “Flower Garden,” in April 2021. Described by Boyu as an ode to “ending toxic relationships and manifesting self-empowerment,” “Flower Garden” is a genuinely joyous bedroom-pop bop that delights in its blend of the organic and the electronic.
With his melodically knowing voice coming dipped in Auto-Tune amid buoyant beats, “Flower Garden” was a runaway success despite not fitting into any one box, clocking up over 155,000 streams on Spotify.
Boyu continued to build on the success of “Flower Garden” with the release of his second offering, “Hands Around Your Throat,” in July. Like “Flower Garden” before it, “Hands Around Your Throat” was written while in lockdown alongside his frequent collaborator Zenii.
Unlike his darling debut single, however, “Hands Around Your Throat” intentionally showcases a grittier, darker side to Boyu. Clocking in at just under two and a half minutes, the song hears the 23-year-old referencing a love for hip-hop, with Boyu explaining that he wanted “to flip the image a complete 180.” And flip it he does, with the singer-rapper at one point spitting out a verse with a tongue as sharp as a switchblade.
While previous generations have seemed intent on containing and suppressing artists and creatives into neat little boxes and pigeonholes, it’s truly liberating to be finally entering an age in which curiosity and experimentation are not only allowed, but actively encouraged.
Despite being just two songs into his career, it’s clear Boyu is quite confidently leading the charge with his undefinable, unstoppable bedroom-pop treasures. And with a debut EP due out in merely a matter of weeks, the Los Angeles act is looking set to continue taking risks and demolishing restrictive barriers well into fall and beyond.