Bossie: The WL Interview

Purveyor of: Dream-pop, indie-pop.
File next to: Cyndi Lauper, Grimes, Ke$ha.
Playing: WL18, Friday, February 16 @ The Garrison. Get your tickets here!

Anne Douris didn’t mean for her alter-ego Bossie to become her central project. She had been a member of and contributor to several indie bands – including Stella Ella Ola and Hollerado – for years, as well as a visual artist and animator. But then she decided to break out of the indie rock mold and make the most vibrant, exuberant pop she could. And it took off. Since adopting the moniker in 2015, Bossie has released of a wave of songs and music videos; her debut project as Bossie – titled Not Pictured – is also coming out this April. Wavelength’s Isaac Nikolai Fox caught up with Bossie ahead of her show at The Garrison to learn about her origins in music, her latest two singles, and how she created a comedy web series with her sister Raina.  

You’ve talked before about creating the Bossie alter-ego while your fellow Stella Ella Ola members were busy touring with other bands, but I don’t know if you’ve gone in-depth on your origins in music before. How did you first get into songwriting and singing?

I started writing songs in a little yellow duotang when I was 12. They were not good. I knew three chords on the guitar and I managed to string them together to write songs about how my love for this boy named Taylor “shined like the stars” – the feeling was not mutual. I wrote with melodramatic gusto into my twenties, when I started doing some seriously lo-fi angsty stuff (thanks, Elliott Smith), writing and performing under the moniker Gileads. It was an incredibly gloomy time for me. I think Bossie, and to a certain extent Stella Ella Ola, were knee-jerk reactions to feeling like I was a total wet blanket. I wrote with a bright, cheerful musical palette as a tonic to my own glumness, and kind of wound up back where I started: writing about love and stars and moons. I wanted to write in a colourful, vibrant space, but still work through my depression in the lyrics – kind of in a “spoonful of sugar” sort of way.

What’s the story behind your two latest singles “Strawberry Moon” and “Solsbury Hill”?

I wrote “Strawberry Moon” just over a year ago while making our upcoming record Not Pictured.  I had hit a bit of wall creatively – I was frustrated with the process and feeling bogged down advice and opinions from other people – all dudes, by the way – in the music industry about how I should do things. I was overworked, disoriented and tired. The song is literally just me telling folks to back off and let me do my work my own way. It’s hard enough to stay focused and motivated without those voices constantly weighing in, unsolicited, telling you all the ways you’re doing it wrong.

The “Solsbury Hill” cover was more recent. I’ve always thought of it as a love song to yourself. It’s about letting go of the old safe stuff and trusting in yourself to move forward and find something better. Finishing the record wasn’t easy – I had to strip my life clean, walk away from some relationships – professional and personal – stop listening to those voices, and trust myself. That song was my anthem for change.

What’s the significance and meaning that you ascribe to the line: “don’t set fire to the Strawberry Moon, don’t try to turn it into the sun”?

Like I said, it wasn’t easy for me to stay focused on what I was trying to make with all of those distractions. I did have a vision for what I wanted to do with Bossie, but it was still fragile. I sat through a lot of chest-puffing speeches disguised as “advice” from outside parties about how my act should look and sound, and even though I resisted it, that vision still fractured and I started to fall out of love with the whole thing. Basically, that line is saying “don’t tear apart what I’ve taken a long time to build, don’t try to turn it into something else just cause you like… feel like it, man.” It’s hard to rebuild that stuff.

What is Sistershow, for those who don’t know? And will we get to see you and your sister’s full comedy series at some point, or is it on hiatus?

I’m so thrilled you asked! Sistershow is a web series I’m working on with my sister Raina.  It’s a very fun and silly thing that gives me so much joy to work on. The show itself is fantastical and weird – we solve mysteries, avenge broken hearts and uh… play a lot of computer games. It’s not on hiatus, we are just carefully getting our ducks in a row before giving away too much. We’re very excited to share more when the time comes!

And how would you describe your live show to someone who’s never seen you perform before?

We like to have as much fun as possible and not take ourselves too seriously. I have a ridiculous wardrobe of colourful, bizarro outfits and we’re constantly increasing our repertoire of cheesy covers. I gave up on being smooth or cool a long time ago — we try to make up for that with pep and spunk and any other silly words you can think of.