With millions of kids across the world making music in and from their bedrooms every day to escape the boredom that comes with quarantine, it has become more and more impossible to break out of the crowd and grow to be one of the stars. But then there is Boy Pablo, aka singer-songwriter Nicolas Pablo Muñoz, who has managed to shine brighter than anyone else with his epitome of sunny, feel-good indie bops, despite his upbringing in one of Europe’s rainiest cities.
“I’m the youngest of four in my family and my brothers and parents have always shown me a lot of different music, so it was very hard to avoid falling in love with music,”, remembers Muñoz with a smile. Born in Norway, Bergen, to Chilean parents who emigrated to escape the right-wing military dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet in the late 80s, the artist‘s first introduction to music was characterised not just by funky New Wave Latin music, but also by rock legends like Green Day, Blink 182 and The Beatles. A good mix of genres that made the decision of dedicating his life to the fantastical world of music very easy for the now 21-year-old singer: “My mum always told me to go to university, but I didn’t want to study, just to study something. And she asked me what I wanted to do after high school just about every week, so I told her I was going to be a rockstar, to which she got angry and stopped asking me.”
But Muñoz kept his word. While his friends and classmates were going out to party and celebrate their youth together, the Norwegian singer would spend his time in his room, writing and making music and getting closer to his dream one step at a time. And it paid off, as just a few months later, he began his music career in late 2015, after the release of just two singles called ‘Flowers’ and ‘Beach House’ through the label 777 MUSIC, which he now owns and runs with his family members and friends.
“IN MY FAMILY IT WAS VERY HARD TO AVOID FALLING IN LOVE WITH MUSIC.”
Fast forward five years, Muñoz has become one of the biggest names in the lovely sphere of dream-pop, after a YouTube algorithm had placed his hit song ‘Everytime’ on autoplay after clips from similar bedroom pop wonderkids in 2017, breaking the music video for the chilled love anthem and introducing Boy Pablo to the big, big world. But while many others would have probably freaked out about this – not mentioning the view count of said video is now at a humble 30 million -, it left Nicolas as cool as ice: “When the video blew up, it didn’t bother me too much. I think it’s because I’m doing something I am confident with and because I’m comfortable with everything I make and who I am as a person. I don’t seek the attention, I just want people to enjoy my music.”
Nothing easier than that, because if there is one thing that can be enjoyed, it is Boy Pablo’s music. Warm, lazy tunes paired with big twinkling guitars and Muñoz’s day-dream-like vocals provide a portion of much-needed Vitamin D in these ever so darkening times and make the listener almost forget that the world is just about to fall apart. Unsurprisingly, his latest record, ‘Wachito Rico’, which translates to “handsome boy”, could not be released at any better moment. “On the bright side, the pandemic has given me the time I needed to finish the album. If it wasn’t for that, I don’t think we would’ve been able to realize all of our ideas for it and make the music videos as good as they are,”, explains the young singer, while also mentioning the issues that came with the cancellation of all their gigs. “We are all okay, but it has been difficult, especially money-wise. I make money from royalties and my music, but the band lives off playing live, so I’ve been trying to support them as much as I can. It’s only fair.”
“There are a lot of bands in the indie scene that are serious and sad and that try to be cool. So I’m trying to be uncool and happy.”
The constant mix of emotions also led to Muñoz opening up a bit more through the lyrics of his debut, which reinforces its romantic and care-free sentiments and follows alter-ego character Wachito Rico throughout the record while he stumbles through the many paths of love. “I’ve never written so personal lyrics in my life,”, the singer admits while talking about his first autobiographical piece of work. “It’s easier to hide behind a character when I’m talking about something serious and intimate.” This comes as a surprise at first, as the album shines with fun, blissful pop hits like ‘rest up’ and ‘mustache’ (which literally explores Pablo’s frustrations about not being able to grow said mustache). But there is more than just summer days to the debut than the energetic instrumentals might make it seem to be, with tracks such as ‘leave me alone!’ and ‘te vas // don‘t go’ exploring the more intricate, darker sides the rollercoaster of love has to offer.
Additionally to the reconnection with himself through his lyrics, the upcoming debut also finds Muñoz introducing his Chilean roots to his dedicated fanbase. A change that came very organically and as a reply to the fans’ request for more Spanish in the singer’s music: “With my first EPs, I didn’t feel comfortable enough and didn’t have the time to include more Spanish words. But it is the language I speak with my parents, so it was really fun to include it this time.”
It’s a pride that also threads itself throughout the stars’ whole work, as from the start he has been the captain of his own ship, running his label 777 MUSIC solely with the help from friends and family. Even when the big labels came knocking on his door after his initial breakthrough, the Norwegian artist stayed put – something he is very happy about even now: “When we first received attention after the video on YouTube had blown up, a lot of famous labels came to us with their huge deals, but I’m so happy we didn’t listen to any of them. We were confident we would make it on our own.”
And they did, as of 2020, the indie kid boasts modest 3 million monthly listeners on Spotify. A huge number that might make one or the other artist fall into a pile of egomania and arrogance, but one that leaves Muñoz cold while he talks about never wanting to lose himself in this vast craziness that is the music industry: “There are a lot of bands in the indie scene that are serious and sad and that try to be cool. So I’m trying to be uncool and happy.” With songs to prove he is more than a one-off fluke and a heart at its right place, it seems like there is nothing that could ever stop the heartthrob on his mission to ultimate greatness. Not even the rain.
Boy Pablo’s debut album ‘Wachito Rico’ is out everywhere now via 777 MUSIC.
This interview was part of the October issue of GEM – read here.
Text by Laura Weingrill // photos by Michael VC Angeles
This article was previously published in LDN Magazine.