a kid named rufus is an artist whose name you’re going to want to get familiar with. Coming from Malaysia and settling in the US, today’s interview guest has such a rich story to tell. They make alt-pop music that encompasses their feelings on romance, growing up, moving away from home, and their queer experience. We’re really excited that a kid named rufus spoke to us to give us all the details about the release of their debut LP later this year.
Whether you’re a big fan of their music already or this article just stumbled its way into your feed, you’re going to want to stick around and get to know your favorite new artist!
‘the cute girl from brewster hall’ feels like a really positive and wholesome offering for your single. Can you tell us and our readers a little more about the irl situation which inspired the song?
When I was a sophomore in college, I worked the front desk at a freshman dorm called Brewster Hall, and “the cute girl” swiped her ID and said hello while I was on shift. We matched on Tinder the next day and started dating shortly after.
The video is so vibrant and fun! Are you super involved in the creative process for your videos and visuals?
Absolutely! I was always into the arts from a very young age and experimented with photography, film, and visual art alongside music, so I’m always either creating the visuals or coming up with the ideas. I knew exactly what I wanted the music video to look like from the moment the song was finished, but the execution behind the visuals is all thanks to Chase Denton and the team at Working Media. They killed it, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
We love that your music is so inspired by your life. Are there any songs on the LP that are inspired by your time growing up in Kuala Lumpur?
The opposite, actually. I definitely hint at missing my life in Kuala Lumpur and being home with my family, but the LP is about my first year living in the United States, and everything single account of what I experienced and did.
It’s amazing that your music shares your experience as a queer artist of color. How important is it for you to talk about your identity and share those messages in your music?
I’ve always been vocal about my identity, especially in America, where there are many stereotypes and microaggressions that are so deep-rooted in its culture. I get misgendered, yes, but more often than not, people don’t know where I’m from or assume where I come from (and do so terribly). I’ve never shared those messages through my music until this album, and I’m glad I’m sharing this chapter of my life as a queer, brown immigrant through the release of whatever works and all the singles this year.
Life has changed since you moved to the States! Have there been any big culture shocks since you left Malaysia and settled in Syracuse?
Every single thing about life is different in the US. The one funny culture shock I’ll never forget was when I found out Americans refrigerate their eggs. It became a full-blown argument between my friend and I when I told them I always kept my eggs outside at room temperature. Apparently, it’s because of the way they wash eggs and vaccinate chickens here in the US, compared to Europe and Asia. Apart from that, I miss having a bidet. It’s tough to regress to toilet paper when I’ve used a bidet all my life. I actually bought one from Amazon and installed it in my bathroom here because I miss having one so much.
Your songwriting is quite often honest, and you don’t shy away from talking about any emotions. When you’re songwriting, how do you get into a headspace where you’re comfortable being vulnerable and then sharing that with the world?
I just write what I’m feeling, and over time I’ve learned to write in a way that’s descriptive and vivid. The more descriptive the lyrics became, the more honest they were. I also have a unique story, being a recently-out queer, brown, Southeast Asian, and an international student with a music side-project that blew up and got me a record deal. Over time, I got to a point where I was sick of being surface-level and I wanted to tell my truth. I actually wanted to be vulnerable so that people could hear my experiences, which are, in one way or another, the experiences of people like me.
We’re really looking forward to the release of whatever works out in July! What song are you most excited for fans to hear?
My two personal favorites are ‘running away from whatever you call paradise’ and ‘liability.’ Although I’m proud of every single one of the songs on this album, so truthfully, I can’t wait for them to hear the project front to back with all the transitions and little moments between songs.
Since you released your EP graduation in 2021, do you feel like you’ve grown as an artist as you’ve been writing for whatever works out?
100%. I’ve grown so much as a person too, and inadvertently so has the music. I’ve also gotten better at writing, performing, and producing my own music. I’ve also learned how to let other people into the creative process, so there are other producers and engineers that helped out with this album, which was a first for me.
We love to hear about people empowering themselves to learn more about the music industry. As a music business student, is there anything you would say to our readers who might want to follow in your footsteps and get into music education?
Read Donald Passman’s All You Need To Know About the Music Business. It is the bible of the music industry and teaches you the basics of how our industry works. Even if it disgusts you, I think every artist should know a little bit about how it works, especially as you’re making money from your music.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen you on the stage, have you got any upcoming tour dates where we can catch you performing?
Not yet! I’m waiting for the right moment and opportunity to present itself. I’m so happy that most of the world is somewhat back to normal, and it’s so nice to see shows and tours both locally and internationally. However, I know it’s competitive right now, and I’d rather focus on honing my skills and writing hits rather than jumping the gun and doing shows in such a saturated live scene. With that said, I really miss performing. It has been three years since I’ve done a proper show. I know a tour will happen sooner than later, but playing the waiting game definitely sucks.
Before we go, have you got any big goals for the year ahead? (We’ll be cheering you on!)
I’m almost done with college, so my goal is to finish my last year with all-As and make my senior year count for something. Wish me luck!
Good luck! Team THP is rooting for you – if we could make your grades as good as your music, you’d be getting A+‘s all around!
We can’t wait for whatever works to drop, but we’ll be streaming all of a kid named rufus’ songs in anticipation. You can join us here!
Did you just discover your new favorite artist, or are you a long-time-loving listener? Let us know in the comments or drop us a Tweet @thehoneypop. You can also find us on Facebook or Instagram! We can’t wait to hear from you!
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