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An Interview with Bunny Boy

As soon as I heard the odd mixture of savagery and sugary imagery contained in Bunny Boy's lyrics, I was hooked. More underground than his talent deserves, Bunny Boy is one of the most original artists I've encountered. The music itself is light and airy, a melt-in-your-mouth delicacy like cotton candy. But his real talent lies in the "completeness" of the worlds he creates through song. This effect is not effortless, however. It didn't come as a surprise that Bunny Boy's process as a musician is more similar to that of a scientist than it is a creative, relying heavily on in-depth research of his subjects. Read on to find out more about his methods.

Where do you get inspiration for your songs?

Inspiration often comes from a very specific feeling with very vague images, stories, or ideas surrounding that feeling. "Your Blue Sky" came about while I was walking through a Marshalls store. There was a song that was playing that I could barely hear but I swore it was saying something like "your blue sky." So I went home and tried to Google a song by the name of "your blue sky" to no avail. But the phrase made me feel this deep warmth. So I decided that I'd write the song with imagery that was somewhat inspired by the Care Bears because I'm a big Care Bear fan (80s).

The song "Shelly" was just meant to be sort of a sad sentimental song. I had a book laying on around called "Our Children Live On" that was about the presence of family that has passed on, often in the form of a spirit. There was a butterfly on the cover, so in the song Shelly's ghostly presence is signified first by a butterfly landing on her favorite book. Butterflies are very significant to my writing. They're like a splash of color.

Sometimes I just sit down with books on top of books of obscure information about dolls, fairies, folk tales, horses, frogs, poetry, whatever weird shit I feel like being inspired by, and I just write lyrics to different melodies I'm working on. Sometimes I have an idea I can't just sit down and write, and the idea will take me years to write. The song "Newt of Knells" was a melody I wrote ten years before I actually wrote lyrics that suited it well.

Lately I've been reading a whole bunch of books about horses so I can write a song about a girl and her horse. It's very important to me that when I write a song about something it seems that I have sort of intuitively understand the subject. I'll just read a whole bunch of stuff and try to get the terminology of things until I have a somewhat true understanding of what it is about the thing that is important to my characters.

What has been the biggest challenge you've faced as a musician?

As a musician I certainly feel I've sort of peaked at guitar and without serious effort I can't get all that better. I also am pretty lazy and I find booking shows and doing any sort of planning aside from the making music part of things to be tedious. Booking tours and shows and the overall social media networking is what I find to be the biggest challenge. And getting better at my instruments.

What's the best reaction anyone has ever had to your music?

People have come up to me after sets and told me that certain songs had made them cry. Probably the most frequent one is "Heaven," which can be found somewhere on YouTube. Tears are indeed the best reaction a singer/songwriter could get I suppose. However, the most ideal reaction would be if people would just throw big wads of cash at me. I highly recommend that to anybody at my shows.

Why did you choose the name Bunny Boy? What would you look like if you were an actual bunny?

I think I was going to call my project Black Bunny because of a beautiful black bunny I had seen in the woods once. There was already a band camp page of that name and there were a lot of bands at the time that called themselves black whatever and whatnot so I decided to call myself Bunny Boy sort of after the character from Gummo.  But I've sort of tried to distance myself from that a bit and make it more my own.

In the "Bunnyverse" (that's the dumb name I made for the world I write songs in) there is a character that was a child who died and her father then put her bones inside of a giant mythical rabbit and a witch brought the girl back to life but inside of the large rabbit and they sort of transformed into this deformed rabbit person. People start calling the rabbit Bunny Boy, and later, Lapin. I sort of wrote this in the form of a short story that I haven't quite finished. And I might work it into a bigger series of sorts when I find the time. I suppose if I were a bunny, it'd be proper to be a bunny in the way that Bunny Boy comes to be in my own mythology and so I would look like a stitched up, deformed rabbit person.

That being said, the bunny has a great and significant meaning to me. The Velveteen Rabbit is one of the most beautiful and sad children's books ever written, which is one of my favorites. Watership Down is probably my all time favorite book, and Goodnight Moon is another one. To me, the bunny truly represents childhood.

What has been your biggest creative failure?

My biggest creative failure is probably anything I've done before Bunny Boy. I think I always had a knack for writing songs. I'd been doing it since I was a kid. I was kind of making what, now, I'd consider cheesy and embarrassing music until I became sort of more self aware I suppose. I'm currently about to go through years and years of old tapes I recorded all my demos on. I have stuff that dates back to freshman year in high school. We are talking like, '04. It's going to involve a lot of me groaning and laughing at younger me, but hopefully I'll find a few gems in there.

How would you describe your musical style?

Up until this point, most of Bunny Boy has been sort of lo-fi, twee, cutie pie, creepy folk -- with a few ambient tracks. I'm working on my first official full length at the moment (I don't consider Shelly full length cause it was just sort of an afterthought after I had a few short little instrumentals from a movie project I was helping with). The full length is a 22 song double album that is a little bit of what I just said but also very much a new age, self help, rock, and utterly bizarre, extremely creepy and disturbing, folk album. I truly think people will somewhat classify it as such. But I also think they might perhaps classify it as "unnecessary" as well. I wouldn't blame them.

What song would you direct a music video to and what would it look like?

I'm working on a music video at the moment for Bunny Boy. It's using mostly my dark ambient tracks and it's sort of going to be a short film of some sorts as well. It's about these two living dead children that come from a magical land where they slept beneath a tree being fed what is called "the gackle of the drearsils." Drearsils are a weird flower I created in the Bunnyverse. It's going to follow them around as they deal with being children who need to turn people into creatures similar to themselves while they reach a lady called the Mustide Lady, who is filled with creatures called Mustides, which can be transported into these special dolls that are called flesh dolls. They also eat dead crows and lots of candy. It will be gorey, yucky, disturbing, and pretty. I hope that sort of answers that question.

You said that "Your Blue Sky" was inspired by Care Bears. Who is your favorite Care Bear and why?

My older brother had this very old, mangled Bedtime bear doll. For my whole life, I thought it was his. But my mom told me last year that when he was in kindergarten, he must have stolen it from some kid and my mom just let him keep it. It brings me great sorrow, or maybe more like mild sorrow, to think that some kid is out there who doe not know where his childhood Teddy Bear is. My Teddy Bear, Gear Bear, is on my bed right now. He still keeps me company as a Teddy Bear always will if you let them. It's their duty. Gear Bear isn't a Care Bear, he's a Gund bear.

So anyways, aesthetically I'm a big fan of Bedtime Bear. I also had this dream when I was a kid, or perhaps I'm just recalling an episode of Care Bears, or perhaps I dreamt a dream in the style of the original Care Bears series, but it's an image of Bedtime Bear asleep on his cloud and then comes down on a rainbow or a moonbeam onto Earth where the kids are swinging on a porch swing or something. Sounds like an episode of Care Bears. But that image is very important to me.

Quite frankly however, I think Grumpy Bear might be my favorite Care Bears character because he's the only one with a realistic personality. He's the Larry David of Care Bears.

I once had considered writing Care Bear fiction. Perhaps some day, but it's very low on my bucket list right now.

A lot of your songs describe dreamlike, pastoral, twee imagery but tend to have dark undertones. How did you develop this signature contrast in your lyrics?

For some reason, I've been obsessed with death and creepy stuff since when I was in grade school. When I was about 10 or 11, my parent found these lyrics that I wrote that were pretty disturbing apparently. They were concerned. I used to write short stories that were interesting and about weird things.

Anyways, when I was 18 my older brother passed away. That was terrible and gave me new insight into death, something that I had already been obsessed with since I was a kid. I had always looked at it in a sort of gothic, romantic kind of light. I was awoken to its sort of apathetic nature. It's just a really shitty thing that happens. A lot of my writing is just me searching for that place between death and nostalgia. There is a perpetual gut churning feeling after the death of a loved one, and so you constantly search for the feeling of the memory. Even if you've never experienced a significant loss, I'd imagine we're all still looking for that. Growing up, in a way, is like the death of something. That's not an outlook I would recommend however, so don't listen to me. There's a few contradictions in there. Such is life.

I love the creepy and surreal. I'm a big fan of Edward Gorey, David Lynch, Jean Rollin, and Guy Maddin. I love horror, especially monsters and dolls. There's not enough doll horror. There's plenty of good monster horror.

I'm also extremely obsessed with lullabies, quaint children's shows, and children's books. I love Old Bear Stories and Bagpuss. I'm always looking for books with lullabies and nursery rhymes. I read lots of fairy tales as well, and I'm fond of Arthurian literature. I really like to escape to that little dreamlike realm whenever I can.

So, mix that with all my creepy inspiration, my obsession with death, and you get Bunny Boy. I've mentioned that my upcoming album delves further into the world. It's very bizarre, dreamy, creepy, loud, soft. The song topics range from voices speaking from beyond the dead, necromancy, nursery rhymes, homunculi, and angels. I don't think anything I've put out truly captures what I've been intending to make. It's all sort of been filler until I released my first official full lengths. This upcoming full length is more aligned with something I've always dreamt of making.

Lastly, when was the time in your life when you felt the most hopeful?

I will have to begin this answer with sort of the opposite of what should be the answer. A few years ago I felt very very depressed, as I often do, but a little more than usual. I think it was around the time I was just transitioning into being a bunny boy. I was pretty unhappy with where I was in life. But I told myself, "You could kill yourself or you could just start living closer to the way you'd like to and do everything that you wanted to do." It doesn't always work like that obviously, but I was able to plant that little idea in my head. So for a brief moment maybe a season or two, I was doing a lot of that and feeling very hopeful. I do think I got fairly far and brought my art into the most interesting ways I ever had then. I really told myself to not change my art in any way to appeal to anyone. It's all for myself. If people enjoy it, that's great. I personally think it's something people might enjoy so I make some effort to get it out there.

When I write about the strange, I feel very close to myself, but sometimes I feel great distance from others. I avoid as much social interaction as I can. I have so many artistic endeavors and ideas that I need to do and that's what keeps me going. So in a way, I am still very hopeful that I don't die before I can get them all out. And I hope ideas keep coming so I still can tell myself that I can't die and I'll just keep the process going. I have a big fear of accidents and death. I'm feeling very hopeful right now about now succumbing to any accident. It's funny how you can feel so miserable but also very much not want a bus to hit you out of nowhere. Hope appears in strange ways sometimes I suppose.


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