It’s about time for the next big girl group to find their way onto the world’s stage. For LA-based Boys World, there might be something in the water.
Pop group Boys World, in which boys stands for Best of Yourself, have already proved they deserve international spotlight. Elana Caceras, Olivia Ruby, Queenie Mae, Lillian Kay, and Makhyli have used the digital age to their advantage, amassing a large following on TikTok for which they showcased their collective talent and creative vision before ever releasing an original song. In speaking with them now, it is hard to imagine a time that they did not know each other or were not bound by their artistry; the five young women are incredibly close, both emotionally and physically, as they pile around the couch in their shared living room. This is likely owed to the fact they were not forced together but allowed to meet and bond before deciding just who would take part in the KYN Entertainment venture. In that respect, Boys World is in good hands. KYN’s founder, Sonny Takhar, formed the label in association with Live Nation, after serving as president of Syco Music, the label is responsible for cultivating enduring talents such as Little Mix, Fifth Harmony, and One Direction.
‘Something In The Water’ is is the second single to follow their debut EP, ‘While You Were Out.’ The five-song collection released in the Spring charted on Apple Music Pop Album Charts in 23 countries, iTunes Pop Album Charts in six countries, and has generated over 15 million global streams. The rhythm lead track, written by Grammy-nominated Tayla Parx (Ariana Grande, Khalid), provides everything one hopes to find in a girl group release: sassy lyrics, unique vocals, and angelic harmonies. Plus, that distinct uniqueness Boys World feels their rapidly growing fanbase, called Stars, has come to expect and love.
Invited into their circle of friendship, 1883 chats with Boys World about their new single, living in a girl group, and what they hope the future holds.
Congrats on ‘Something in the Water!’ I think it’s my favourite song so far. How are you feeling about the release?
L: We’re really excited!
Q: I can’t believe it’s already out.
O: I know. It feels like we have been waiting to release this song forever, but then all of the sudden, it’s already time.
The single dropped alongside a gorgeous music video.
All: Thank you!
What was filming it like?
L: It was definitely a roller coaster of emotions. We all cried for different reasons [all laugh] but it was really fun! We tried lots of new things. We were outdoors for the first time and at night at that!
I loved the scenes in the car.
Q: Oh my gosh! It was freezing. I was so cold when we were driving.
O: I wasn’t! I wanted to stand up and hold my arms up [mimics motion] I was feeling it! The adrenaline was making me toasty.
M: People were looking at us so funny. We were driving down the road with a huge camera and light strapped on the side of a car across from the seat.
E: Yeah, we didn’t close off the street or anything. We were just driving around while people stared from across the street.
I bet you gave some people their “LA experience.”
O: Oh my god. That’s a fun way to put it.
Q: What if there were tourists out who had never seen anything like that.
M, E & L: Wow!
Q. Imagine if that had been us when we first got here! I would be psyched out if I’d seen that.
For a group so early in their career – you already accomplished some pretty incredible things. Before Boys World was formed did you ever think you’d be in a girl group?
E: That’s a good question. From a young age, I knew that I wanted to be in entertainment, whether it was acting, dancing, or singing. But while I would make up girl groups as a kid, I never really thought of it as an actual possibility.
L: In the back of my mind I would see girl groups and think, “Oh, that’d be a cool way to get into music” because I love music, but I’m kind of shy and so it’s nice to have my girls nearby. [group chuckles]
Q: I did not.
M: You know when you have a talent, but it’s all inside of you and you haven’t fleshed it out yet? I could say I’ve been singing since I was in a car seat, but I actually got into acting first with musicals. I went to creative arts elementary, so I started with that. Being in a girl group is the move, for sure. After high school, I didn’t really connect with anybody, but these girls are so real and we teach each other so much. This is definitely the way to go.
O: I know!
Now that you’re here, what do you like most about it?
O: I absolutely love filming the music videos the most. I think I enjoy seeing the song come to life. Obviously, the song itself has a story, but then putting it into something and having something else be the outcome is always going to be special to me. I’m a visual learner, so seeing a song be put on a TV screen and given a plot or aesthetics gets me the most.
M: I like that too. I also really enjoy fittings.
E: I feel like my answer changes all the time because there are so many things to love about this but today I’m going to say the fandom that we’ve created, all of our Stars. It honestly feels like a family. They’re just so amazing and we love them all. We try to really connect and be as close as possible with them. It’s really fun.
L: I’m going to steal her answer. [everyone chuckles]
E: That’s ok. We can share.
Is there anything that you found surprising about it?
Q: How quickly I learned dances. I figured out I pick up dance steps very quickly and I didn’t know that before.
M: I think for me it’s all the little things. You don’t think about all the texts you get. I don’t think a lot of people realize how hands-on we are. Most people just see it from the outside and see what comes out of it. For example, we pick our profile pictures, what emojis we use, we’re always creating this world and creating our brand and so I feel like small things are surprising.
I think it’s pretty obvious that you guys are more involved behind the scenes than might typically be expected.
L: That’s so good.
O: I’m glad!
M: That’s our goal.
On multiple occasions, I have noticed you refer to yourselves as sisters before you refer to yourselves as a girl group. Historically, girl groups have a reputation for not being as close as they seem, but with the way Boys World was formed you ultimately chose who you wanted in the group. How do you think that affected the group dynamic and your overall artistry?
E: I think how Boys World was formed was such a great start because we all got brought into the group at different times, and we met each other, to see if there was any chemistry there.
M: Yeah, the label was very smart about picking people.
O: I think that’s what also got us the most is the fact that they cared about finding genuine people. They didn’t go for super talented people that were stuck up and not team players. We are all working with each other and we’re not solo artists. That’s not where we are right now in our careers and they see that in us and we see that within each other. It’s just made everything so perfect when it comes to the work. There are so many different dynamics within this group; we’re such different people, we all have our own pockets to fit in and we understand those pockets and we embrace them and we love them so much.
I am such a girl group fan. Little Mix made me who I am today — I’m not even going to lie to you. While I still find the group and your music very relatable, it’s been so fun for me to watch you all grow because I think every generation needs their massive girl group. Looking to the queens come before, are there any themes or aesthetics that you’ve adapted from them or ways you look up to them?
Q: I feel when it comes to our diversity, we’re instantly compared to Spice Girls, which is completely fine. They’re literally powerful. They’re so amazing. We’re honoured to take that place now in this generation – that diverse group who you’d never expect to see as a girl group.
M: That infectious energy of Spice Girls is something I think we have. I also think we’re trying to make our own way and trail-blaze for people after us.
What are some of the reasons that you hope people will one day look up to Boys World?
O: I saw that Little Mix had their tenth anniversary and they announced an album of all their hits. I’m blown away by the fact that that’s how many hits they have, enough to fill a whole album.
L: That’s crazy!
M: I hope people look to us because we are so close to each other, and to the fans, and that we use social media to our advantage for the greater good of the world around us.
E: Yeah, I hope people say that we made them feel happy in every way and created a safe place for them to be the best of themselves.
Individually, who are some of your musical inspirations?
O: Lorde, FINNEAS, Billie Eilish. I love songwriters. I love Julia Michaels. If I like a song, I’ll look up the songwriter.
Q: I grew up listening to Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, Etta James, Frank Sinatra. It’s a lot of oldies because my grandma was a professional singer.
Oh, how cool!
Q: Yeah, I absolutely love it. I love Motown. But, I also do love modern artists. I love R&B. I love Kehlani, Rihanna, and H.E.R.
L: I like Ariana Grande, Doja Cat, Mac Miller, Mariah Carey.
M: When I was little, I like a lot of powerhouse vocalists. I liked Jessie J. I like brave singers and people who weren’t afraid because I was afraid a lot – oh, this is getting deep. I think I was drawn to people that weren’t afraid to express themselves through music. I was obsessed with Michael Jackson because he was doing things people had never seen before. These days, I have been more into rap. We were in the studio the other day and I laid a rap and was like,” Wow! Is this how Nicki feels?” [all laugh]
E: Doja Cat is definitely on my list. My list is very versatile. I listen to a lot of R&B, rap, old school, etc. Lately, I’ve been listening to Tyler, The Creator. He’s one of my favourite artists. Kanye, George Smith, and a new artist named Celeste.
You’ve got a pretty diverse range of tastes, do you ever find it hard to merge your musical preferences when creating your music?
Q: I would say no. Honestly, for how diverse our music taste is, it’s a lot easier for us to agree on our music than you may think.
E: We all have our individual tastes, but also have Boys World’s taste. We come together and know what Boys World likes. It’s not really about what we like individually.
No, that’s good!
M: I think our individual tastes come out more when it comes to ad-libbing or the way we chose to sing something.
The opening scene of the ‘Girlfriends’ video with the hotline scene is multilingual. A+, but then it gets to Makhyli and she’s signing and using a camera. I have a disability and that is never done — I teared up so fast. Was that your idea or was it written into the treatment?
Q: First, that is so great to hear!
E: That’s amazing.
M: When we came up with the concept for the video, we wanted to make sure we connected with as many people as possible and make them feel welcome because that is the Boys World message. We got to pick what we did in that scene. I’ve always been interested in ASL and I want to get good at it, so that is what I chose. We’ve had some other responses similar to yours and they’re always so heart-warming to hear.
I think it was really interesting when you said you were just trying to make Boys World as inclusive and as safe of a space as possible because the ‘Girlfriends’ video was the first official thing you guys put out and that was the first scene so it was quite literally your debut. What a great opening.
Q: I loved hearing your perspective on it. That’s the goal.
Finally, what do you hope the future holds for Boys World?
All: [various excited exclamations and/or overwhelmed groans]
Q: What a loaded potato question…A world tour! Oh my goodness, I want to go to Asia and Europe and meet those fans and see the culture. I’m so excited to do that.
M: I want to have dolls. I want there to be dolls of us.
Q: That’d be sick.
O: Oh my god! It could come with a little stage!… Oh! I want to direct one of our music videos one day for us.
E: I want us to have a film. Billie Eilish just did one for her new album. I want us to have one of those.
L: Or a documentary!
Interview: Sydney Bolen
Something in the Water is out now.