Hailing from Bergen – a “very rainy” city perched on the Southwestern coast of Norway – Boy Pablo is testament to the power of the internet. Penning woozily witty indie pop in his hometown since 2015, and putting together videos with the help of his friends – some of whom run the indie record label 777 – Nicolás Pablo Rivera Muñoz’s loved-up wares rose to stardom through unromantic means.
Thanks to the mysterious workings of YouTube’s cryptic algorithms Boy Pablo‘s homespun video for ‘Everytime’ – which was quite a few months old already at the time – ended up auto-playing after endless other established artists from the smooth-crooning world of Schmaltzcore. Unsuspecting listeners, busy having a belt along to Matt Maltese and Rex Orange County, found themselves turned onto this unknown Norwegian in his pink hoodie and short-shorts afterwards. And unlike many of the other randomly selected songs that pop up by chance on the platform, ‘Everytime’ was good. Really bloody outstanding, in fact; so much so that it cut through the barrage of adverts and caught people’s attention. No mean feat.
“We drove all the instruments down by the water… it was totally spontaneous,” says Boy Pablo, remembering the video that first caught the viral wave. He and his bandmates packed up the car and headed for Os, a picturesque piece of coast near the high school where they first met. Squinting into the sun, giving goofy looks to camera, they played ‘Everytime’ – a dreamy tangle of internet-age relationship woes – down on the waterfront. “We didn’t have much planned. Fabio [Boy Pablo’s manager, who also runs 777 Records] had just brought a camera, so he thought, why not try it out? It wasn’t raining,” he laughs referring to Bergen’s grey climate, “and we were very lucky about that.”
Luck played a leading role in the early days, of course, but after ‘Everytime’ had worked its magic, the rest came down to sheer talent. The razor sharp melodrama of ‘Losing You’ – sample lyric: “How would you feel if I walked up to you one day and ripped your heart out?” – came shortly afterwards, nailing the sting of self-indulgent angst that accompanies a bitter break-up like a salty chaser. And on new EP ‘Soy Pablo’ (the title translates to ‘I Am Pablo’ from Spanish, and according to the musician “it’s called ‘Soy Pablo’ because I think it represents the kind of music that I like to make”) things get even more playful. For every heartbroken moment of complete sincerity, there’s a tongue-in-cheek aside; a knowingly exaggerated croon or the faux-sexy whisper of “I’ll dream about you baby” on ‘T-Shirt’.
“I get a lot of feelings out,” reckons Boy Pablo, pondering his distinct blend of pain and laughter. “When I make music it’s like therapy for me, but I don’t like things to be too serious. I don’t wanna look like a serious artist. Young love is always an easy thing to write about, and honestly I’m not that good with words,” he explains. “It comes out easy to me… and obviously a lot of people can relate, and that makes it even more special. It’s not always about a relationship between two people, either. It can be metaphoric.”
Nobody could really accuse Boy Pablo of being serious, to be honest. ‘Roy Pablo’ – last year’s debut EP – got its name from an accidental photography blip. “Me and the boys saw a picture of a concert we did, and we had a backdrop that had the name Boy Pablo on,” he recounts. “My head was covering a part of the B, so it looked like Roy Pablo. A really weird name. We started kidding about with Soy Pablo, Toy Pablo, Joy Pablo….” he laughs.
All well and good, but don’t you ever worry that you’ll run out of rhyming words? There certainly aren’t enough there to sustain an entire career. “Actually not,” he deadpans. “We’ll see how far we get with that one.”
Boy Pablo’s new EP ‘Soy Pablo’ is out now