Surfer-turned-musician Lexie Papillion aka Bloodboy is an up-and-coming star in the Los Angeles indie music scene, having made some lasting impressions with outstanding live performances at this year’s Echo Park Rising and KROQ’s “One To Watch” series. Despite her burgeoning breakout she’s got a very humble and real sense about her that reveals itself in her breathtakingly honest songs from her debut EP, Best of Bloodboy, which was released today (October 14). Her musical influences draw from legends such as The Clash, David Bowie, Talking Heads, and Joy Division as well as more contemporary artists such as Deerhunter, Parquet Courts and Ariel Pink, but she seems to have found her own indie-pop sweet spot, just ripe for the listening.
EP highlights include the slow churning, heart shattering ballad “Drunk You,” that touches on struggle with substance abuse — and then there’s the boisterous beats of the anthemic “Fuck Yourself,” which she wrote after readjusting to single life post long-term relationship break-up. Bloodboy really hits some nerves with “Keep Your Disease” which opens the wounds of creative oppression and the pressure to live life as society dictates, as well as the pop-leaning “Human Female” which Bloodboy divulges, “is about a woman who reaches what she perceives to be a pivotal moment in her life where she has to decide whether she wants to lead an unconventional life. She is terrified of the latter but can’t commit to the former because she doesn’t trust herself.” All of the EP’s songs are simple yet impeccable, just awaiting the accompaniment of your dancing feet.
Before making it to this point in her musical evolution, Bloodboy started off in a very different place — one of classical music training and surfing — of all things.
“I started taking piano and classical voice lessons when I was really young and I started writing music before I knew basic math,” reveals Papillion. “I learned to surf in middle school because that’s about all people do for fun in San Clemente and it came naturally for me so I pursued it. There was a period of time before surfing became my primary focus when I was participating in both opera and surf competitions. When surfing started to demand more of my time and require travel, I had to put music ‘on hold,’ but I was still writing regularly. I ended up getting kicked off the U.S. Surf Team for showing up to a team meeting blackout drunk at a contest in Brazil when I was sixteen and that was sort of the beginning of the end…”
Needless to say, it wasn’t too long before Papillion kicked music back into hear. Her days with competitive surfing slowly burned out at about 16 years of age, but once she went to college, a lust for creating music returned for a visit.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#FF78FF” class=”fistclass” size=”15″]”I was in college, but I was pretty confused at that point as to what it meant to me,” shares Papillion. “I wrote a lot but rarely showed anyone and I had a strange phase where I thought I wanted to be an entertainment lawyer. I interned at Interscope and UME and took the goddamned LSAT. Thankfully, before any irreparable damage was done in the form of applying to or attending law school, my mom called and said very sweetly and melodramatically, ‘Don’t do it. Music is your calling. Law school will always be there.’ Her encouragement was like a reset button and all of a sudden it was the only thing that made sense to do.”[/perfectpullquote]
Papillion’s mom not only inspired her to pursue music full-time at that point but she also became the central figure of one of the catchiest songs on the EP, “Mom I’ve Changed,” which also happens to be Papillion’s personal favorite track. “This song is more overtly about the way that I’ve changed in recent years,” explains Papillion. “I was having lunch with my mom the day that I decided I was going to appear topless in the “Human Female” video and she said the opening lines of the song, ‘scale it back, it’s too much,’ almost verbatim. She’s come around to my lifestyle but it was hard for her at first… I wasn’t sensitive to that in the beginning and I neglected to consider her feelings a lot of times, but openly communicating about why I’m making certain decisions has helped our relationship immensely.”
Bloodboy’s vocals are always at the forefront of the mix, sucking you in and leaving you hanging on every word. Her penchant for writing truly honest, reflective and introspective lyrics are inspired by “good ol’ human experience” so it’s no wonder that they’re so easy to relate to and she’s very open in discussing her lyrical inspirations.
“I find that the most interesting lyrical concepts are born out of being completely present and paying close attention to what’s happening around me, and in turn, the way that it affects me emotionally. Whether it be a conversation I have with a stranger or my best friend, a place I’ve never been to before or a romantic encounter, there is so much to write about and I think it’s easy to overlook.”
And while Bloodboy may initially seem like an odd moniker, when she shares how it came about and what it’s come to mean, it seems hard to imagine anything more fitting to fuse together her past and present.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#FF78FF” class=”fistclass” size=”15″]”I was at a bar with the first band I played in and we were toying around with potential names. I threw it out as a joke and naturally everyone thought it was too bizarre to use but after we parted ways to do our own thing, it kept coming back to me. It’s creepy and biologically inaccurate but as time went on, the personal symbolism became more transparent. The stigmatic hysteria surrounding blood is entirely lost on me. As a kid I wanted to be a doctor so I asked my uncle if I could watch him perform surgery. He let me ‘scrub in’ and stand right next to him, at the age of ten, as he reconstructed some dude’s knee. I remember looking over his shoulder and being fascinated by the idea that what was happening inside of my own body was completely foreign to me…”[/perfectpullquote]
Pair that bloody experience with the fact that Papillion “behaved in a way that society has historically defined as masculine” — surfing, hanging with the boys, causing trouble — and you get Bloodboy.
“There is a tongue-in-cheek element to the name because we are fortunate enough to be living in an age where gender roles are becoming less rigid,” shares Papillion. “I think that is incredibly liberating for both men and women.”
Looking forward, it will be exciting to see what the future holds for Bloodboy and her invincible sound. Bloodboy reveals that her full-length is completely written and production is just around the corner. She also has a few music videos in the pipeline so stay tuned to her website for updates, as well as possible Spring tour dates. In the meantime, you can stream the debut EP below, order it here.
Los Angeles concert-goers can catch her EP release show on Thursday, October 20 at a secret Downtown Fashion District location, including “strange secret guests.” The event is FREE, and costume attire is encouraged. RSVP here.
Stream “Best of Bloodboy” below.