Cole Boillat is a Los Angles based, New York bred music producer under the alias BOIA. With his cinematic sound design and a knack for true storytelling, BOIA's production has hit the charts and captured the attention of major editorials and publications. Inspired by the likes of Banks, Benee, and (of course) Cats the Musical, BOIA is a Pop Hit-Maker who never fails to bring his own incredibly original, alternative approach to the record. BOIA often collaborates with a close-knit group of artists who he considers family and says fostering those personal relationships has become essential to his process. Of course, BOIA "loves big studios, tons of gear, treated rooms with ridiculously expensive speakers" but at the end of the day he "heavily prefers the home-studio setting, making coffee or drinks and hanging before even starting a song, jamming out, dancing, heavy jokes, all that stuff that keeps the pressure at a minimum and creativity flowing."
The first producer I have ever worked with, I am so lucky to collaborate with BOIA and play a part in the artist family that he fostered. I am also incredibly lucky to have had the chance to sit down with BOIA and talk to him about his biggest inspirations, dream studio, and more. So grab a coffee, keep the pressure at a minimum, and enjoy the interview :)
As an artist who collaborates with you frequently, I am always blown away by your attention to detail. More than that though, I can tell when I'm listening to a song you've produced from a mile away. Your musical mind is both meticulous and wildly original so I must know, who are some of your main influences?
I definitely tend to listen to projects as a whole, and some consistently blow me away. There's the production-heavy forward-thinking pop like Perennial by Vera Blue; there are vibey and uniquely fantastic albums like Benee's 'Hey u x'; there are albums that put me at ease every time I put them on, like Harry's most recent two, and especially Frank Ocean's 'Blonde'. That's only naming some of my favorite projects, not even some of my other favorite artists like Halsey, Lorde, Billie, Sabrina Claudio, Dua, Mac (and Bea, why not) Miller, and so many more (I'm leaving so many out it feels like a crime).
Ahh yes, so many great art projects there. 'Blonde' is definitely one of my favorite albums of all time.
I swear, every time I start 'Blonde' with 'Nikes', my heart rate slows by 20 bpm.
How do these artists and projects drive your production style sonically and inspire your general process?
I think the most important aspect of production, to me, is being able to consistently generate the feeling that the lyrics and story of the song are trying to express. It's like, when you're watching a movie - even if it's in another language, if you can hear the music, sound design, and the expression in the actor's voices, you can still feel exactly what's going on emotionally, and I absolutely love that.
A fan of some amazing music, what got you into production originally?
My parents forced me (lol) to take piano lessons when I was six; I disliked it until around middle school, when I started playing in school jazz band. I took a ton of other lessons for percussion, jazz drums, vocals, different styles of piano, played in different school and local bands, recitals, festivals, all that fun stuff. I loved writing music; I loved figuring out my favorite songs by ear. (Last year I had an existential crisis that too much of my production/composition is influenced by the original Broadway recording of Cats).
Once you started making music did you know immediately it was what you wanted to do with the rest of your life?
I went to the University of Pittsburgh and studied Neuroscience and Music Composition, the latter honestly just because I wanted a degree in music after spending so much time on it, but still with no intention of pursuing it professionally. It was only when shadowing different doctors that I was given repeated advice on different occasions: you shouldn't go into medicine unless it's the only thing you want to do with your life. And I took that to heart so, over the course of my four years, I went from "hey maybe I'll take a gap year and do research" to "I'm gonna take a gap year, drive to Los Angeles and fully pursue music". By the time I graduated, I moved straight to LA and didn't really look back. And that's where I'm at now -- you could say I'm finishing up my fourth gap year over here, pursuing music.
And the rest is history! After coming to LA in 2019 for your "gap year" you have been my best friend and I know all of the other artists you collaborate with also consider you like family. How has working with artists who trust you so much in a personal sense changed the way you collaborate?
Awesome question. Having a personal, comfortable relationship with my artists has really been essential to my process, and I think theirs as well, in order to create the best, most authentic, and most original sound we can. I swear the sessions where I'm sitting there doing less producing and we're just having fun end up with the best tracks. And some days just aren't productive days. Some days you try so hard and get nowhere. When you're just making music with friends, that's not a big deal, there's always next time.
Speaking of collaborators, if you could work with any artist in the world on a full-length album and you could pick one producer to co-prod the project with you, who would you choose and why?
Two answers: right now, I'd say a Remi Wolfe album with Solomonophonic; I'm just so in love with the fun high-energy vibe they've created on Juno. I absolutely love it. Or, I'd love to produce a Benee album with my best friend Austin, just because that would be incredibly fun and chill; I'm obsessed with her vocal timbre.
You've made tracks that have hit the charts, and captured the attention of major editorials and publications. But most importantly, you've touched a lot of lives with songs like Britton's "To My Younger Self" shedding light on important topics like mental health. Is it a lot of pressure to make something with meaning that you know might change somebody's life?
Honestly, no, not at all. It's amazing. That's why I love making music. Whether we're talking emotional pop or even stepping into film scoring, those are the songs and moments that just make sense - they get you in your feels with ideas flowing for hours.
Would you say you often go with your gut when making meaningful songs or do you try to make it perfect since you know it means something?
Often when you take a step back, you already have a song that captures and elevates the message you're going for. Now that I think about it, on "To My Younger Self" I'd taken the original stems that Jameil, the co-producer of the song, had made with Ashlee (Britton), and just spent the night getting everything to just, FEEL, right. The huge drums in the chorus were recorded at twice the speed so that I could pitch them down to half time, the vocal samples and effects that play with and complement her melodies, the timing on her swung vocal against the piano swells buried in the verses,... that was the stuff I tried to really nail in that first night. Still, I sent it to her saying "ok, this is barely a demo, this mix sucks, I have a ton more to do, don't share with anyone, I'm going to bed". Well, 7 million views of that demo on Tik Tok later... you know the rest of the story.
A terrific producer, yes, but you are also a great vocalist and someone who I love songwriting with. Will there be any solo artist projects we can look forward to seeing from BOIA? What's up next for you- upcoming projects, shows, or collaborations?
Hah, that's very kind El. I am confidently saying Yes to that, but unconfident on dates, and even what's going to come out first. Speaking of Britton and 'To My Younger Self', one of the other producers, Jameil Aossey, and I have been working on a pretty experimental and vulnerable project for a while that features a lot of me vocally. I'd look for that later this year. Additionally, ideally alongside that coming out, I'm looking to populate my own artist page with some singles followed by a project at the end of the year. To be completely honest it's been a long road to even get to me saying that, and I'm happy with it. To be completely honest again, I'm still unsure if I want my artist name to be 'BOIA' as my producer name is, or perhaps just 'cole boia'. But that's pretty on brand, I suppose.
Finally, the most fun question of all- if you could build your dream recording studio anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I love a relaxed, aesthetic, plant-filled studio with lots of natural light, but not too much outside noise. I think, ideally, I'd love to build a studio in a house on the outskirts of London or Amsterdam, where it's quiet enough that I wouldn't be too bothered by traffic and such, green enough to keep me relaxed and happy when I pop out for a walk, but still populated enough where that walk can end in a nice coffee somewhere nearby. I would definitely not oppose any views as well!