Bobi Andonov Is the Next Noir-Pop Sensation

Bobi Andonov Is the Next Noir-Pop Sensation

The rising artist talks to V about his mysterious dark-pop and that one time the world got him confused with Harry Styles.

The rising artist talks to V about his mysterious dark-pop and that one time the world got him confused with Harry Styles.

Text: Jake Viswanath

In a world where the lines between masculintiy and femininity are slowly becoming blurred, there’s still a lack of male artists in the music world that are willing to play with the societal concepts and looks of gender. Bobi Andonov is wanting to change that. The Australian artist is forming his own alluring alt-noir world through his dark, sensual videos, carefully crafted social media channels, and most importantly, a growing set of smokey, pulsing pop jams. It all started with “Apartment”, an intriguingly titled plea for love that sends his vocals as high as the heavens, and continued with “Smoke,” an electro-pop stormer that retains his seductive tendencies without holding back on crushing beats and big, catchy melodies.

His new offering, “Faithful”, solidifies his path as a noir-pop aficionado, his growling vocals contrasting softly with pensive synthlines, the perfect soundtrack for destructive love affairs and questionable liasons. Inspired by the ambigious likes of Prince and George Michael, He doesn't shield himself from the world, but the mystique he gives himself allows for a more free Bobi to shine through—one that’s proudly sensual, intentionally capitvating, and flirts with gender without breaking the lines completely.

Below, Bobi opens up to V about his start in music, the mission behind his visual world, and that one time that people kept confusing him with Harry Styles on the Internet.

Take me through your journey. What got you started in music?

Well, originally I wanted to be a tennis player.

My dad played tennis all his life. When I was really young that’s what I wanted to do until I was like, “No I hate sports”. So very similar.

I love the sport, I still try to play it. I think it started when I watched The Lion King musical in Sydney. We found out there was auditions in Melbourne, and my mom was like “Bobi do you want to go audition?” I was like “Alright, yeah sweet,” having no idea what The Lion King was. I wasn’t brought up watching cartoons, my brother would hog the TV. I went into the audition, got callbacks, and ended up getting the role. I ended up being a young Simba in Melbourne for a year and three months and in Shanghai. After that I realized how big this was. I could always kind sing, then after that it just fell into place. I’d been dancing for ten years, I did ballet, jazz and tap.

What did you think of your experiences in theatre?

I loved it. I just totally threw myself into it. Both of my parents are from Macedonia, which is this little country where there aren’t really stuff like theatre. So for them as well, it was like “Oh my god, this is possible, this exists?” After that it was like, let’s keep it going.

Where are you from originally, are you from Australia?

I’m from Melbourne. But at a young age we moved to Macedonia and I grew up there for a little bit.

So do you have much of a childhood in Australia?

Definitely. We were only in Macedonia for a few years, but coming back to Australia, I didn’t know any English. Macedonian was my first language because we still speak it at home.

How was that transition?

It was so weird and confusing. I was lucky I had an older brother as well while I was growing up in a very old-school Macedonian household. He was definitely the rebellious one. He pushed the boundaries, my mom was very strict with us growing up. So he was listening to Outkast, Wu-Tang Klan, and all that, so I definitely got to experience other music through growing up with him.

Would they restrict what you listened to or watched at all?

I think because we spoke Macedonian, that’s what we were, that’s what we did everyday. We spoke it at home, we still do. Now I live in LA, I’ve got to create my own little world over there. It was definitely a little old school.

That’s crazy. What I find really intriguing is you’ve gone through a reinvention of sorts. Right now, it’s your debut but at the same time, you’ve been around.

I was writing for a while before anything came out. Then in the last year to eight months, it just all started coming together. I started being more hands on in production side of things, because I also produce. So that just fell into place and now it feels legitimately like the music I want to make.

How did you come to that conclusion?

I think it was just naturally through the artists that I’m influenced by, I think it all just mixed together creatively. I watch a lot of films, I literally have to watch a film every night before I go to bed. I think that definitely inspired the music as well whether it’s visually or production-wise as well. I think all those combinations meshed themselves into something.

Who did you grow up listening to?

My first time I ever listened to Prince, it was Purple Rain, I watched the film. I had seen his show and I was absolutely shocked that something like this has existed. My parents listened to Macedonian folk music, so I’m not listening to Prince and shit like that. George Michael was another one, my mom was in love with him. Naturally, I listened to him and I loved his stuff. He wrote and produced everything. I love Wham!, they’re amazing, and INXS. I feel like all those guys had something in common where they played with their femininity and didn’t really give a fuck. Musically they just spoke about whatever they want, sex, drugs, love. It was amazing.

It was the confidence you were inspired by?

Yeah, so much confidence.

I know you’ve done a little bit of producing and writing for other people.

Before I got signed,I was back home for six months and just writing, recording with other people, for myself and for other artists. I end up writing this song and we find out a week before the X Factor Australia finals that they chose the song I wrote and produced for the winner of the show to record. That’s definitely a side of music that I love doing as well, I love writing for other artists and I’m definitely going to be doing more of it as well. Sometimes you’re just so close to your work, as you should be, where you get frustrated where you’re hard on yourself, where it’s cool to just not think about that and write the song for someone else.

Did you have that stigma like “I don’t know if I want to be writing for a talent show” or did you just embrace it?

I just embraced it, it was a writing opportunity. I had no money, so it was a great way to put some cash in my pocket. I think it was a confidence thing for me as well. Being able to be a successful writer was a big thing for me as well.

Did you ever consider trying out for it?

My mom definitely wanted me to. That was one thing my family was like, “You should do it, you’re going to be famous overnight”. I was like “That’s not what it’s about, like I want to make cool shit.”

Who did you end up writing for?

I’ve done a lot of DJ stuff, I’ve written for Afrojack. Now I’m going to be writing a lot for new artists that are going to be coming out in the U.S. there’s like camps coming up. So I’m going to be doing a lot more of that.

Talk about your newest single, “Faithful”, how did that come about?

“Faithful”, that was an idea I started with. It was produced by Nick Pingree about eight months ago. It started out as gibberish, didn’t have any lyrics or anything like that. Then we circled back and got back into a session with each other. Naturally the song became this young, temptation, lust-driven song. It just naturally fell into that. That’s what the song needed lyrically.

Take me through what you’re planning next. What message do you want to leave with your music?

I think naturally, just listening to my music, I want to have a blend of timelessness of all those influences, but then for it to have the modern, dark vibe that I love. I’m planning for an official EP to come out, just to expand on everything I’ve been writing about, to bring some of that dark, sexual confidence those guys did from back in the day, that’s what I want to bring in this day and age.

Do you feel like that’s missing? Or do you feel like it’s just something you want to join in on?

A little bit. I feel like artists like Matty Healy from The 1975 plays with that a little bit, but as far as solo male artists, I’d love to see more of it. I just think they’re just so cool, there’s a reason they’re so iconic for that time. It’d be great to see male artists and female artists bring that out.

The world is leading more towards gender unification, why would anyone reject that?

When it comes to even fashion and stuff like that, 100% I love playing with that stuff, I think it’s amazing. I think my mom was really amazing with fashion when I was a kid. She dressed me and my brother to a T when we went out. We grew up and now we walk down the street eyeballing shops like, “I want this.”

Did she influence the way you dress or did you have to veer off and set on your own?

I definitely veered off. I remember my first high school party, I went to a private school for three years where everything was very strict and I hated it. But luckily, we got to move to this beach town called Williamstown in Melbourne and it was a public school, and everyone was wearing Vans and didn’t give a fuck, and I’m wearing these orthopedic shoes that my mom made me wore.Then my first party, my mom dressed me in a white linen suit with brown leather shoes with a Cuban heel. I go to this party and everyone’s wearing a T-shirt and jeans. I’m like “What the fuck, where am I?” I felt so out of place, I literally called my mom ten minutes later like, “Can you take me home?”. So she definitely took control of the fashion side of things but as I got older I found my own styles.

When you Google yourself, as you have to do when you do an interview, one of the first things that pops up is “Bobi Andonov Harry Styles.” What’s the connection there?

About a year and a half ago, I literally woke up in the morning, checked emails, and I go on Instagram and I’ve got 5,000 more followers. I’m a rising artist, so that was amazing. Two minutes later, another 80, and another 80, I’m like, “What is going on?”. I got tagged in a video, it was a bedroom cover that I did of “Stay” by Rihanna and Mikky Ekko. There was a video going around that said “If Zayn and Harry Styles had a baby, this is what it would look like and sound like”. That went viral, and all these Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, One Direction pages posted about it. Then they labeled all these songs that I had when I was 14, like as “Harry Styles’ new single”. It was like three million plays on that, four million plays on that. That was the most random month, it was so strange.

That’s so weird, people genuinely thought it was Harry.

The video was like when I was 17 or 18, but it happened a year and half ago. He was younger as well so our voices sound pretty similar. But it was hilarious.

Do you ever think you’ll be able to live it down, or use it to your advantage, either way?

I just let it be, it’s so funny.

Who would be your dream to write for or collaborate with?

Childish Gambino is one of my favorite artists. That would be a dream collaboration. I love Brockhampton. To write with someone like Dua Lipa, she’s awesome. I remember when “Be The One” first came out. I watched her actually, her first show in LA, on a school night and it was like 80 people in a room. Now like eight months later, she’s everywhere. She’s very hardworking.

Speaking of creating cool shit, you’ve dabbled in theater, writing, what else could you see yourself dabbling in?

I definitely want to get into directing my music videos, just because I love film so much and there’s so many cool shots in filming, like ‘oh that would be cool in a video’. I’d love to direct a video or collab with a director on one of my videos. Fashion is such a big thing for me, I’d love to eventually if given the opportunity, to collab with a brand or something like that.

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