After a long hiatus, I’m bringing back one of the most popular features on Third Looks – Style Profiles. These features combine an interview format with photos that capture each individual’s style at the moment. I couldn’t think of a better person to bring back the feature with than Boyslashfriend. We’ve been homies for a minute so I’ve been able to watch him develop his music and career in real time. We always joke around that he’s the asian r’n’b singer that the world needs right now, but beyond making infectious intelligent r’n’b , he’s also got a great sense of personal style that compliments his music.
How did you get into music and in particular singing?
So I’ve been doing music since I was a young kid. The first instrument I ever played as the clarinet in fifth grade. I was going to the Manhattan School of Music and I picked the clarinet because that’s what my mom told me to play. I thought it’d make my dad happy because the king of Thailand played the clarinet, so I was like alright, i’ll play that shit. I was in music school from fifth grade all the way to senior year.
In high school I was only listening to r’n’b. All my homies were listening to rap but I had this one friend Ryan (aka Mags) who was the only other dude listening to r’n’b. Singing started much later in life, I didn’t make choir in high school so I thought I couldn’t sing. I was always singing r’n’b in the shower, like Usher, Darnell Jones, Justin Timberlake.
One time my roommate was like “Yo you have a dope voice, you should sing. I was like really? Oh cool.” So that was all in the back of my head. Then I met Christian (MNTN) in college and he was making beats and I thought that was so cool. My upbringing was classical music and I was usually around people that played these traditional instruments but no one was making beats. College was the first time I met someone producing beats and that person was Christian so we linked up three years ago when I started singing and the rest is history.
What were your favorite r’n’b artists?
For the guy groups it started off real soft, it was Boyz II Men. I love their harmonies, I love their love songs and just the romantic vibes they had. Even the Christmas albums were dope. Then there was soul for real, New Edition , Jagged Edge and Jodicee much later. As for solo artists, Donell Jones, he was the perfect combination of thug and being romantic. My favorite r’n’b records is Justified by Justin Timberlake. Usher Confessions is also up there, those are two big early listens. Of course I can’t forget R Kelly and later in life was the Dream.
How did r’n’b affect how you dressed or other aspects of your life?
RnB definitely affected my attitude. Someone who definitely affected my attitude and way I dressed was Pharrell. When he came out with the trucker hats, Spitfire tees and SB dunks. That was peak pharrell.
Where did your background and interest in clothes come from?
It came from my dad honestly. He was always super classic and loves Polo, that’s his swag. He kinda dressed me real preppy when I was a kid, I was always in Polo, cardigans and khakis.
My dad wanted me to look preppy, respectable sophisticated young gunner. But my sister influenced me to get fly in a way. Growing up with an older sister she would always be picking out shit from Delias. It was a catalogue where you would buy clothes. Her and her homegirls would always talk about the guys at school they thought were cute or fly, so I would check what they wore and try to be like that it.
Style was always important to me, especially being a chubby kid, I had to get fly. I wasn’t getting bitches off playing basketball or soccer. I wasn’t a nerdy kid or anything but I wasn’t an athlete or anything but I was playing the fuckin’ clarinet. I had to be like, I’m gonna get fly and be the flyest kid in school and that’s gonna be my edge.
How did that evolve into how you approach how you do style now?
In high school, I didn’t have much money I didn’t really have a job. The money was mainly coming from family or gifts, as an Asian culture they don’t buy you gifts they give you red envelopes you know. I would take that money and buy gear or sneakers but it was light.
I wasn’t collecting heavy until college when I decided to start reselling sneakers. I was the go-to guy at NYU , I was collecting Nikes, Dunks Jordans, BAPEs shit like that. I was working at the BAPE store. My dorm room was filled to the ceiling with sneakers.
In college my room was filled with sneakers and I thought it was cool, I was making money selling sneakers. It was prime time for Jordans and Dunks you and I was just making bread. I was on Niketalk, I liked meeting up with heads instead of shipping.
I just started realizing that sneaker culture kind of faded off and and I was just stacking all these sneakers at my parents apartment in queens and my bedroom. A lot of that is just clutter to me now. Before I was thinking quantity over quality I guess. But now I’m just more like what do I really need, what can I wear every day? How do I walk down the street everyday in New York City and not care about scuffing my Jordans. I started changing my lifestyle with clothing and kind of making my own uniform of things I can wear every day and things I can enjoy without feeling bad about. I only have a few pieces in my closet now.
Do you see your style being important to your music ?
I think so, with music and what I’m doing, it’s not what everyone else is doing. That’s how I see fashion and the way I dress too. I’m not wearing what you’re wearing. I just like to separate myself from everyone else. As an artist that’s kind of your responsibility.
How are your photos and social media a reflection of who you are.
I been influenced by certain people that are into minimalism. I hate the word now because its kind of a trendy thing but with my eye it makes sense. I’m actually colorblind so when I see images that are mostly grey, white or black or blue. I don’t like putting filters on my photos, because its natural to me and the way I see the world is more de-saturated. It’s easier on my eye. People might see it as a little flat but that’s what I see. I just like classy elegant things. That’s also the kind of woman I like as well.
How do you think about music is it more emotion or visual.
Music is not visual to me. I don’t have that that sense when you see colors when hearing sounds.
There’s certain chords that strike me and hit me in a certain way. It’s more of a feeling; it’s not a visual thing for me.
What about your lyrics are you trying to communicate certain things with them?
I feel my lyrics are relatable. Every man goes through what I’m going through. Not knowing if a girl’s feeling you or not, and being in that middle ground of being a friend. (Being a boy/friend) I think a lot of men in New York relate to that, a lot of my lyrics come from pain from not getting that girl or that girl being too much for me. It’s that.
What’s r’n’b missing?
I feel like r’n’b at the moment is not really singing, it’s not really rapping. It’s like Asian fusion food or something. It’s this fusion of hip-hop and r’n’b. Which is cool I enjoy it. I try to create what is missing. I’m not trying to contribute to this channel of energy that’s going on with rap and r’n’b.
It’s really difficult to be doing r’n’b. A lot of guys aren’t into it and even girls don’t even want r’n’b anymore. I been at this party recently and they had r’n’b on or whatever and girls were like we just want to hear Future. That romance is gone, the feeling of going in a club and Donnel Jones is playing or Pharrell Frontin’ and you would feel swaggy and go dance with a girl or buy her a drink. Now it’s just like dudes wanting to dance with each other.
Macking is done huh?
The macking music is done. We used to go the club and rn’b came on that was your chance or time to go talk to chicks. Now there’s no moment where you can talk to a girl in a club. It’s almost weird to go up to a girl now, its like what are you doing, you’re thirsty why are you talking to me?
I don’t know what I’m doing is gonna work but its fulfilling to me. I don’t know if im gonna bring r’n’b. Back but that’s what I want to make and that’s what I want to hear. It’s like any fashion designer or a creative person, if something is missing you’re gonna want to make that thing. I wouldn’t try to make something I could get somewhere else.
How have girls reacted to the music?
It’s always different man. Noone’s gonna come up to me and say something bad but they definitely feel it’s emotional and it’s refreshing. Which is my goal with the project. I didn’t want to do just one trap beat. There’s songs for the club, the whip and the bedroom. Certain songs for your headphones when you’re on the train. I wanted to show people versatility like how Justin did it with Justified or Usher with Confessions. I think that’s missing from this genre right now; everyone kind of makes the same song over and over again.
What kind of qualities is in an ideal chick?
I haven’t found that girl yet. I love women that have a ridiculous amount of taste and the same kind of taste that I have. Things that aren’t flashy or fleeting but instead things that are timeless and elegant. I don’t like girls that are extremely hot; I like girls that are beautiful. To find an elegant girl that has great taste , in art music and fashion. Usually they are terrible people though (laughs). It’s hard to find nurturing girl who got great taste.
What do you hope to achieve in the next little bit?
I want to understand the Internet more; I do feel like the music is there. I spoke about the music with Christian and Jason and developing a sound that is noticeably ours like what the Neptunes did. They weren’t always doing the same bpm, but they were doing pop and r’n’b and rap but you always knew when it was them. I’m more of a real life person and I’m not good at showing who I am on the internet. I’m jus trying to boost my internet presence the same way I am on the street.
It’s cuffing season, the album (Low Key) came out just in time for that. Music is fleeting unfortunately so you got to treat music like a tv series. You gotta be constantly hitting them with contact so me and MNTN and working on dropping more songs before the end of the year just to keep it going.
Photos by Billy Fischer