“I’m glad that there’s only two of you. Because how many of you are in the group, it’s like six?” WHO SHOT SCOTT said when the interview started. “Seven now,” Boomchild’s Charbel answered.
“Our manager is pretty much involved in the project too, so I’d even say eight,” his bandmate Rico added, much to WHO SHOT SCOTT’s presumed horror. “I was worried because I was like, ‘Damn, some of these questions, if we have to get seven answers, it’s going to be insane,'” the Kiwi artist replied, a relieved man.
It all worked out in the end: WHO SHOT SCOTT and the two Boomchild members held one of the best Rolling Stone AU/NZ artist on artist interviews together, discussing their widespread influences, Arabic music, seminal songs, The Simpsons, the importance of finding your music community, the reasons for being an artist, and much more.
Both Boomchild and WHO SHOT SCOTT headed to BIGSOUND this week in buoyant mood, the former armed with cool cuts from their 2022 EP Riley’s Room, the latter arriving after the recent release of his manic single “I HEAR THEM LAUGHING”, sure to give the Fortitude Valley industry folks an electrifying jolt.
Before their BIGSOUND sojourn started, Rolling Stone AU/NZ asked WHO SHOT SCOTT to get to know Boomchild better – two of them at least – and you can read their detailed conversation below.
Charbel: Listening to your music, it’s such an interesting sound. It’s so strong and different. I feel like I haven’t heard something in that kind of world – almost like a hyper pop vibe in a way. What kind of inspirations did you have?
WHO SHOT SCOTT (WSS): I don’t think I listen to artists and try to be inspired by anybody. I’m just trying to channel inward expression as much as possible. When I make music, which is a super intuitive process, I never think to myself, “Oh, I want to channel this or I want to channel that.” I think what’s happening is that my childhood and the music I grew up on, which is a lot of ’90s alternative rap – Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine – I think I’m just generally channeling [the] stuff that I grew up on. I hope that answers the question.
Rico: Straight away, I was like, “Oh yeah, you love Rage, mixed with Red Hot [Chili Peppers].” I even hear like heavy Brockhampton vibes.
WSS: Oh yeah? That’s interesting because I’ve never listened to Brockhampton, I couldn’t name you one song! My first question is, and you can both answer this separately, what kind kind of music did your parents play when you were growing up at home? And how did it inspire you as artists now?
Charbel: I’m Lebanese, and we were raised on Fairuz. My dad’s side was all Arabic music, but then my mum, being raised in Australia, was heavily influenced by Prince and Stevie [Wonder] and that kind of stuff. So it was always this really weird mix of very traditional Arabic music and then the most contemporary y pop artists of the ’80s. I don’t know if it’s translated in the art in terms of the Arabic sound, but it’s something that I would love to explore in time.
Rico: For me, I’m Filipino, so being Filo you always like what your parents love, but at least my dad loves like soft rock – Eagles, even disco shit, Bee Gees and whatever. He’s a massive Chicago fan, [the] Police, all that sort of stuff. And I listen to that stuff now, I love that, the sappiness of it, it’s so dramatic. The fuckin’ synths are so over the top, but it’s dope.
Charbel: I remember seeing this Stevie quote it’s like, “When you get bored of your influences, look at who influenced them.” Such a good kind of reference, because you can look at any artists and find so many other artists.
WSS: I feel you, because I’m Arabic but none of my music sounds like Fairuz bro. What was the first piece of music when you were young that were like your pieces of music? The ones that you found on your own and fell in love with?
Rico: I was at the physio the other day and my physio asked me this exact same question. So wow! But D’Angelo’s Voodoo will be like, until I die, probably my favourite album of all time. It was like a musical awakening. My sister gave me her old iPod, I was maybe 12, and even then just having something so mobile and listening to music was so dope. I think I randomly stumbled upon “Send It On” on shuffle on my iPod. I just heard this fucking snare and I was like, “What the fuck is this?” It’s so vivid, I can remember just like it was yesterday. The bus was full and I was just rockin’ my head.
Charbel: I feel like the first one that comes to my mind is Kanye West. Late Registration was the album that just blew me away. I wouldn’t even say it was Kanye that blew me away on that album, it was actually Jon Brion the producer. Because it was just the most cinematic piece of music, to this day, that I’ve listened to.
Rico: It’s production heavy.
Charbel: And it’s forming narratives throughout the album. So in that way, that album was most kind of influential.
Rico: What was the song?
Charbel: Honestly, probably “Celebration” or “Gone”.
WSS: I know that I may be assuming this here, but you know when you first fall in love with music and you can’t tell why you like something but sounds [are] coming in and you’re like, ‘What the fuck is going on right now? Why this sound so good?” And now we’re artists, we can listen to music like an x-ray and know that it’s because like it changes from major to minor and stuff.
Rico: You get really nerdy with it.
WSS: When you’re a kid, it really is like a magic show. It’s unbelievable, you know? I feel like being older, I like to think it’s our job to reignite that magic in other people Like get people to be like, “Oh man, how the hell did they do that?”
Rico: It’s science at the end of the day. Obviously it’s feeling and stuff, but you can help [young musicians] get there and navigate them towards a certain feeling.
Charbel: That’s such a good outlook. I’ve never really thought about it in that way, that’s really beautiful actually. I actually wanted to ask you about how you got the name WHO SHOT SCOTT?
WSS: That’s funny because anytime I’ve been asked this question, the first thing I say is that I’ll never tell what it means. I often will just throw it back to whoever’s asking and be like, “What do you think it means?”
Charbel: I just think of that Simpsons episode, ‘Who Shot Mr Burns?’
WSS: Yeah haha. It’s not that, but I love The Simpsons. Shoutout to The Simpsons!
Rico: Are you the sole person behind it [WHO SHOT SCOTT] or are there people helping you with production?
WSS: It’s very much like a Kevin Parker situation where it’s like I’m doing it all. But when I play with my band, I’ve got a drummer and a DJ. The WHO SHOT SCOTT band is its own beast, but the music itself is all me, it’s produced by me. I mean, it gets mixed and mastered by other people, but all the production and songwriting and stuff like that is me. I can’t play guitar, I play a little bit of bass, so I often get session musicians or my mates who are really good at guitar and stuff. That’s sort of the way a WHO SHOT SCOTT song gets made.
My third question is related to your artist name. We all have this moment where we have to decide what the artist name is going to be, right? And it’s pretty hard, I can imagine, especially with seven or eight guys in the group. what was second or third place contending?
Charbel: We started making music and were like, Lil Wave and the Droplets as a joke, right?
Rico: It started as Lil Wave and the Droplets because we just needed to put something.
Charbel: Then we had two names we were running around with and one of them was Boomchild and the other was Laika.
WSS: There’s a New Zealand indie pop duo called Laika. I think they may have split and they’re doing solo stuff now.
Charbel: We were stuck on that for ages. It got to the point where we genuinely couldn’t decide and then we did a coin flip to decide. The way we did the coin flip was I just said that I’ll flip a coin and send it a Snapchat group chat that we had, but cheated, and I kept flipping until I got tails. I still got the video. It’s funnyb because Hiatus Kaiyoe was playing in the background and they have a song called “Boomchild”.
WSS: Oh, cool. So that’s how you got to Boomchild then?
Charbel: Yeah, basically.
Rico: So have you been on tour much?
WSS: Honestly, I started WHO SHOT SCOTT smack bang in the middle of COVID. We started getting traction and that, but I only went on my first Australia and New Zealand tour at the start of this year. That’s the first time I’ve toured as WHO SHOT SCOTT. I used to be in a band years ago, and we did a couple of shows in Australia, but this I’ve really only properly started touring in the past year.
Rico: What’s been your craziest show or tour moment?
WSS: The first show of my Aus tour, we went to Brisbane, and we didn’t sell it out but we got close to selling out, and I’m from Auckland bro. It’s easy to release music online and forget that there’s real people listening to it. This Brissy show was only people who ever heard of me or found out about me because of the music, and not in relation to liking me as a person or whatever.
The music alone is the only thing that these people have invested in and the reason why they’ve come to the show. I just remember thinking, “Wow, people have listened to my stuff and paid money. And some of them drove pretty far to come here.” You know what I mean? And I was able to hang with everyone afterwards and take photos and just chat to people and find out ow they found out about my music.
Charbel: It’s such a humbling experience. The imposter syndrome is so real sometimes with that kind of stuff.But then you’re like, “Oh, no, we deserve to be here.”
Rico: Like people travelled to see you, people have taken the day off that could do literally anything else.
WSS: It’s such a balance to have the gratitude, but also to have the confidence and purpose.
Rico: Just before we hopped on the call, we were like, “We’re so excited to genuinely see your show and meet you.” After this interview, message us your set times.
WSS: Cool, of course!
Rico: And then Charbel has his own project, too. He’s playing with the band under “Charbel”. We’re all jumping around to help with other artists as well.
WSS: That’s beautiful. It’s sort of the same with us, all the New Zealand artists, the same community vibes. We got a group chat like, “Yo, make sure you go watch this guy.” That’s what you need, that sort of community sort of thing because it can be an isolating experience. It gives me hope that there’s good shit happening in the industry still, you know? Do you guys have any go-to pre-show rituals?
Charbel: The funny thing is, we really don’t!
Rico: I know I used to early on I used to just dip and then I’d do push ups, I’d shadowbox, everything. I’d mentally prepare myself in the form of the crowd being this big opponent in a way. I was full ready, bro.
Charbel: I remember the first show were did with Boomchild everyone was hanging out next to each other and I looked out this doorway that led to the car park of the venue and I just saw Rico going like this [impersonates boxing], just shadowboxing. I was like, “What is going on man?”
WSS: Gotta do what you gotta do, bro.
Charbel: I love quietness before a show. I hate being in a room before a show. I’ve alway found that I’ve preferred that so much more, sitting by myself and not talking, and then just going on stage when I need to. I definitely have to take that moment to kind of almost meditate.
WSS: That’s awesome bro. I’m in the same camp, just a real calm vibe.
Charbel: Last question – When you look at the grand scheme of things, in terms of your art, seeing your art is crazy, because I realised how heavily intense and important visuals are. It felt [like] the whole thing was art – the music, the video, even the way you would dress was art.
Rico: Yeah, the concept. Even the photo in the top of your Spotify, I was like, “This guy’s crazy!”
Charbel: I guess the question would be, at the end of it all, is there something you want to be remembered for?
WSS: That’s a good question. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever thought of it in that way. I think the inly thing I want to constantly be happening is for me to be doing everything I can with the resources and knowledge I have around me to create the coolest shit that I can. That’s all I care about. I don’t really see a hill or a final goal or result, I just see right now being able to make cool shit with my homies. I’m winning right now.
Rico: I love that answer. You won’t ever be happy in the future if you’re not happy now.
Charbel: It’s such a beautiful way to put it, like, “I’m at the top now.”
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