Meet Your New Favorite Female Artist: I Am Boleyn

UK’s newest synth pop artist discusses her career and the music industry.

It’s hard to keep up with the growing number of up-and-coming artists. Even the genres are changing as talent continues to create new sounds. Enter I Am Boleyn, a new female synth pop artist out of the UK. Coming hot off the release of her infectious single Limit of Love, the Lana Del Rey meets Ellie Goulding pop synth singer has made her debut on the music scene with a uniquely delicate yet modern sound.

V recently sat down with I Am Boleyn to discuss everything from being a woman in the music industry to her new single due out in June.

What was your first major break in music?

I Am Boleyn: So I was writing at Sony/ATV Music Publishing with a friend of mine in London and I put vocals on a track and he had it on any show reel and he sent the show reel out. And actually he was pitching this song, he wasn’t pitching me on it, but one of the people that he sent it out to ran a record label in the UK and then got in touch and was like, ‘I really love this girl’s voice.’ But I had done a lot of gigging and stuff. I used to play at Ronnie Scott’s in London. We had a residency there for a while which was awesome. It was a really, really great place to practice new songs and stuff. It always had a really interesting crowd of people, because people know that they’re going to hear new music. So I’d done a lot of performing particularly in London, also a little bit in New York too. It was one of those things where it’s like I’d been performing and writing, for like a couple of years and then it’s sort of interesting, like one thing with Sony/ATV that wasn’t even intentional that was the thing that started it all off.

What’s your song-writing process like?

I Am Boleyn: I write all my songs in Stockholm, Sweden with a production collective called FMLY Sthlm. They produce, mix and master all my tracks. So I spend time there writing. I think that’s why I love going to Stockholm to write because when I’m at home it’s really difficult to switch off because you’re constantly thinking about what you have to do later or whether you should see someone or whatever. But in Stockholm I literally know only the three people I write with and nobody else so I can just really zone in and focus on songs I want to write. Normally it starts with a lyric idea like a theme and I build it from there.

It’s very difficult to write a song about love. We thought about a different way of looking at love. The question Limit of Love asks is, ‘What would you find out about someone else or what is there in yourself that you’re trying to keep secret that might be the limit of the love in a relationship?’ Obviously if you want to really give yourself to someone and let them love you then you have to tell them things that maybe you’re not proud of. It’s like that last little bit of yourself that you have to give over.

What’s it like being a woman in the music industry, specifically in a synth/electronic genre that’s typically been dominated more by men than women?

I Am Boleyn: I feel very passionately about it. There’s never been a better time to be a woman. I think it’s very exciting that so many people are part of the conversation. I think that it’s really important that all women think about where they feel that they fit in that conversation. Because I think a lot of people they obviously don’t want everyone to have equal pay and you know, you want the right to go to work without being given a hard time by your boss or whatever. But I think that it’s really important that women sit and think about it and think about what feminism means to them and what being a feminist means. And because, it’s really important, especially if you’re going to have kids or if you’re in a position like a musician or an actress where you can influence what people think.

It’s tough. You know, especially in the music business because you’re trying to get people to listen to your music and stuff and you don’t want to cram your opinions down people’s throats. But I think you also don’t want to completely step back and just say, oh well I’m not going to put my personal feelings into this. I think that there’s definitely, I think there’s definitely a lot of women kind of coming up in it. I think traditionally, especially on the production side, everything is very male orientated. And so it’s really interesting to see more female DJs, more women getting into production and the more technical parts of making music, you know mixing and things. It’s definitely happening slowly, but it is happening. There are lot more women in A&R a lot more women songwriters and stuff. So yeah, it is happening.

How has it been navigating the business side of the music industry with choosing a label?

I Am Boleyn: I’m taking meetings with lots of different people, some here in the states hopefully to license some stuff too. And then some in the UK. It’s really interesting because different labels have different things to offer. You know, they have different ways of pitching their artists and dealing with their artists. I mean Polydor is really an amazing label. They have tons of artists that I really love. They’re part of Universal.

It’s a great time to be a musician because there are so many options. Like, you can go try and get a major label deal or you can do an independent label or you can just do Spotify which means that you can just do stuff yourself. I have lots of friends who are great musicians who were just like, ‘I’m just going to do the whole thing myself,’ which is kind of crazy. You can do that now.

Can you tell us about your new single coming out, “Just Friends”?

I Am Boleyn: So “Just Friends.” As the title suggests, it is about a person in a position where they have a friendship with somebody and like maybe it could be more than friends, but they’re not quite sure. Maybe they get drunk and they kiss, but they’re like, “No, no, we’re just friends! We’re just friends.” And I think that sometimes you have those romantic relationships where it’s like boom, immediately, you know that you fancy that person. And then sometimes you look at someone you’ve known for ages and you’re like, “Wow, maybe I really like you and I just didn’t kind of realize it.” So it’s about one of those feelings of like, do I cross that boundary with someone or is it better to just be friends? “Just Friends” releases June 14th!

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