Photo: Benjamin Hovlandsdal
Boy Pablo On Growing Up Bicultural & Why Writing About Love Comes Easily To Him
"How would you feel if I walked up to you one day and ripped your heart out?" sings Nicolas Pablo Rivera Muñoz, a.k.a. boy pablo, the singer/songwriter and musician from Norway whose catchy indie rock is on the rise. "Losing You" is just a taste of his signature blend of upbeat sounds and lyrics expressing the rollercoaster that love is, from heartache to infatuation.
"It's weird 'cause I like to keep my things private, actually. I don't really have the need to share an experience about love," he told the Recording Academy. "But I didn't find anyone with a cool voice ... so, I had to sing my own songs."
Muñoz, who is of Chilean descent, began making music in 2015 and found internet fame roughly two years later via a viral video for one of his earlier singles, "Everytime." Since then, the world has come to know his music through 2018's Soy Pablo EP and 2017's Roy Pablo EP.
The Recording Academy caught up with Muñoz after his set at Corona Capital fest in Guadalajara, where he shared more about his first time in Mexico, growing up bicultural, new music and more.
It's your first time in Mexico, how do you feel being here? Is it everything you thought it would be?
Yes. It feels like home cause it's a Latin American country. So I feel good and the weather's good, and yeah it's fun ... I don't know what I expected, actually. [Laughs.] 'Cause I've heard a lot of weird stuff about Mexico, but it's really a beautiful country.
I heard you speaking Spanish on stage.
Yeah. [Laughs.] My parents are from Chile so I learned Spanish when I was a little kid.
How was your set?
They gave us a short time, but it was really fun. It was another kind of show 'cause we normally do longer shows, but really fun. We used all our energy in those 30 minutes that they gave us, and it was really fun. And the Mexican crowd was amazing.
How did the name "boy pablo" come about?
[Laughs.] I wanted an artist name with the name "Pablo" in it. And I asked my manager Fabio what could go with "Pablo." I came up with a lot of ideas and nothing was really cool. When I chose the name boy pablo, I really didn't think it was cool. I don't know. But Fabio suggested it.
How does it feel bringing your music to the world now?
It's kind of a natural thing. When I made music, I thought like, people could like this maybe and then I showed it to my friends and my family and they were like really supportive. They were like, "Yeah, you've got to put it out." And in a strange way, we got famous by a YouTube video. So it's really like social media that made the project this big.
What was your reaction when the video blew up?
Suddenly, one day in October 2017 I was getting a lot of followers on Instagram. I called my manager Fabio and I was like, did you buy followers [for] my account? He was like, what are you talking about? And then I checked a couple of videos, we had a video for "Your Phone" and "Flowers." It was neither of them. Then I checked "Everytime" and suddenly it had like 20,000 views more than the last time I checked, then the next day 100,000 and then 250,000. It was crazy. I didn't know what to think cause it happened so fast. But we're so thankful for that now.
Well, I'm a chill guy and people in Norway, they don't express feelings at all. That expressing feelings I got from my family, being chill I got from being Norwegian. But yeah, it's really cold [in Norway]. So there's nothing to do, normally. You just hang out at people's houses and it can be boring sometimes. So it was natural for me to make music and yeah, my parents showed me a lot of Latin music when I grew up.
Américo. Ráfaga. A lot of like nuevo ola from the '70s.
I'm Mexican-American. We sometimes refer to our language as "Spanglish." For you is there something you call when you speak Spanish and Norwegian?
Yeah, we mix languages. When I don't remember a word in Spanish cause I don't practice my Spanish so much as I like to, but yeah, we speak NorSpanish? [Laughs.] I don't know.
You write a lot of love songs. What's it like putting your experiences with love out in the world?
It's weird 'cause I like to keep my things private, actually. I don't really have the need to share an experience about love, but I've done that with some songs. But other songs, I actually write it like as a love song, but it can be about anything else. It's just easy for me to write about love, 'cause it's such a common thing to feel.
What came first for you, writing lyrics or playing instruments?
Definitely playing instruments. Actually, before I started boy pablo, I tried to find somebody, anyone that could sing my songs. But I didn't find anyone with a cool voice or that was a good friend or something. So yeah, I had to sing my own songs. The lyrics don't come easy to me. So I use a lot of time to work on those, although they're really simple, [as English is] not my first language.
What's next for you after Corona Capital?
We have a lot of festivals coming up this summer. We have like 25, like all over the world. Like France, Spain, Hungary. We're going to The States as well. And I'm working on new music.
Any more details you can give us?
I'm planning a couple of collaborations. I can't tell with who, but I hope one of those songs will be released soon, before the summer.