INTERVIEW: Bonzai Talks Songwriting and Touring With Mura Masa and Flume
    • TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2017

    • Posted by: Olivia Lewis

    You might know Bonzai from the hot vocals she laid down on Mura Masa's tracks "Nuggets" and "What If I Go?", maybe you saw her perform live in support of a Flume show, or maybe you know her from her solo stuff. At only 21 years old, Bonzai AKA Cassia O'Reilly, hails from the town of Wicklow outside Dublin. She singer doesn't even have a full length record out yet, but she's already made massive waves with her singles "I Feel Alright" and "I Did." After watching her travel all over the world to support her music, we finally caught up with the singer while she had a moment to breathe to talk about upcoming projects and fun tour stories. Read the full interview below.

    OLIVIA LEWIS: After putting out three EPs, you're working on a full album now. Where are you in that process right now?

    BONZAI: Maybe half way through with songs that I like. I've got probably six songs that are definitely going on it but I'm just writing loads and then picking my favorites. Probably still a while though, you might be waiting a minute.

    OL: What is your biggest goal with this album? What's the main idea of it?

    B: I'm just expressing how I've been feeling, but what I really want is just for it to reach other people and have them make their own memories with it. I think that's the really beautiful part about the arts and music that I'm lucky enough to get to do. But yeah, when people can take that stuff and make it their own and have their own memories with it, I think that's really special. I hope it does that.

    OL: Are there any artists you're particularly into right now, anyone you'd like to collaborate with?

    B: [Laughs] I dream big. I love Swae Lee, and I don't know, maybe 50 Cent. I think he's coming back around. I really love Azealia Banks, but I don't know what her deal is. I think she's a musical genius, but maybe just a difficult person. I think they're all good, those people.

    OL: Have you had any starstruck moments since getting into the music industry?

    B: Not really, to be honest. At the end of the day, it's like everyone's just human. But I think the only person that maybe I'd be starstruck by is Rihanna or something, if I saw her I'd definitely be like "oh, god." But I think everyone's just human, and I think famous people or whatever, they're just normal. They're just trying to chill. They don't need people freaking out around them.

    OL: You've toured with people like Mura Masa and Flume - what's your favorite tour story to tell?

    B: There's been a lot of fun times. That was pretty much all last year, and last year was the best year of my life so far. There was one time actually where we were all together when I was still singing with Mura Masa. We did a support show for Flume so then that was the three of us. Alex and I were still 20 so for the whole American tour we weren't able to go out at all really, but we did the last show of the tour in Vancouver, and because it's a different drinking age, we were finally able to go out. We went to this club and Harley got this private area and loads of huge bottles of Belvedere and shit. One of my braids fell out of my hair. So I braided it into Harley's hair and that was kind of funny. He took a picture of it and sent it to us the next day.

    OL: Out of all the things you've put out, do you have a favorite song or EP, a favorite musical moment?

    B: I think "Bodhrán" is probably my favorite. So far all the stuff that I've released has just been having fun and experimenting, like this my first time releasing stuff and so I just did it, I just made shit and put it out. But "Bodhrán" for me was the song where I was like "this is what I want to sound like." It was a nice moment because I'd made something I was really happy with.

    OL: Out of the different aspects of being a musician, from writing to recording and performing, what's the most fun for you?

    B: Definitely performing. I just love that, you know, being in a crowd, hyping people up and just having fun. I love singing. I love seeing people dance and shit and have a good time, and to be a part of that is really cool.

    OL: Would you say you like bigger performances or smaller, more intimate things?

    B: I definitely prefer the smaller ones. I like when there's no gate between the stage and the audience. I like them to be right up in my face, and I can get right up in their face. I think that's really fun, so definitely the smaller, more intimate shows.

    OL: What would you say drives you to make music?

    B: Sometimes it differs. I've always just done it for fun, so definitely that, it's always been fun. I know a lot of people use it as an emotional outlet, and I guess I do too to some extent, but for me the emotions I want to get out are usually kinda fun. There are some tracks we've done that are sad or whatever, but I'm not at a place yet where I'm pouring my deepest, darkest feelings onto a track and making a really depressing song. So yes, mainly for fun, and it's a great way to spend time. I don't know really what else I'd do with my time, I'd just be fucking bored.

    OL: Your new single "I Feel Alright" is kind of more poppy and summery than your previous music - is that an indication of where your songwriting has been going lately?

    B: I don't know, that was kind of just a moment. I hadn't really released anything in awhile, and we had that track and there was a bit of a flurry to just get something out. So I wouldn't take from that too much, it was just kind of a moment.

    OL: I actually heard about that song because Danny L Harle retweeted it and was like "I had a part in this," but he's not really mentioned in any interviews - what part did he have in that?

    B: Basically it was me and Alex who mainly did it, and it got to the point where for, I guess the drop as you would say, I wanted more energy there but just didn't really know the right way to do it. Because I've been working with Danny, and he's just a lovely, lovely person to be in the studio with, I told him I wanted it to be like a twerk song and he goes "oh cool, why don't we do something like this." So he helped mainly in the "feel I feel I feel I," the crazy bit, as he would, because his stuff is mental. So the craziest bits were the Danny bits.

    OL: What is it like collaborating with Mura Masa?

    B: It's good, it's kind of just random at this point. He's off doing his thing, and I'm doing my thing, so sometimes he'll just send me a beat and I'll write on it. It's good though. We don't really work well in a studio together because we're just too good friends now and it's all too informal, but to be around he's very cool.

    OL: So it's not productive if you're in the studio together?

    B: Usually no, I'm surprised we have so many songs out together. We just mess around.

    OL: The video for "I Feel Alright" also looks like a lot of fun. Are there any crazy stories from shooting that?

    B: It was fun, and that was an interesting one. It didn't quite come out how I wanted it, but what I did want was for everyone to have fun and I wanted it to be an actual party, which it was. For most of it I was trying to get my performance shots, and I didn't really get to get involved with the party until a few hours in. When I had a little break we all got some pizza and I went out to say "hi" to everyone, there were just loads of people just like foaming at the mouth who brought their own drugs and shit, and I thought that was really fun. And I bought loads of beer for everyone because obviously they were coming out and standing in this field with me all night, so I bought all the drinks, but then when I went out into the party they had started having an actual proper party. That was fun.

    OL: What would you have wanted the video to be like? What would you change?

    B: I think next time I'm going to do stuff with just me. I felt like it was a bit distracting almost just having everyone else in it. I didn't want it to just be me at a party. There were other things I wanted to happen that didn't happen. But next time I think I might just go Björk, Azealia Banks with it and have just me and no one else really. They're my favorite videos, so I think I want to do that from now on.


    OL: So other than releasing that song, what has this past summer looked like for you? What have you been up to?

    B: Loads, it feels like I haven't stopped. I've just been writing really, and doing festivals. I need to kind of have more fun I think now, I didn't have that much fun. I went over to L.A. for a few weeks and did some writing there, went to Copenhagen with these guys Liss - they're this really fun band - but yeah, I spent a good bit with them, a good bit in L.A., good bit at home, literally just writing. So now I'm gonna go have some fun. I don't know where, but it's gonna happen.

    OL: What are you most looking forward to this fall?

    B: I'm finishing a new track and releasing that. I'm just trying to finish stuff. I've got so many ideas and I'm just the worst at sitting down and finishing them, so I'm really excited to finish some music, release it, and maybe go on holidays. I haven't been on a holiday in a while, so I don't know, maybe I'll go to Disneyland or something. Just, you know, keep an eye out, there's some good tunes coming.

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