It’s the fourth grade talent show. A young Bosley Brown is eager to impress the crowd by singing Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love to You” with his friends. His teachers though, found that to be too inappropriate. Instead, Brown and his friends sing “I Swear” by All For One. “Not nearly as cool of a song,” Brown said.
The young Bosley and his friends wore matching outfits for the big performance. “I was so embarrassed. All the kids started laughing as soon as we started, so I just folded my arms and put my hip to contrapposto and just sort of like stared off and pretended like I didn’t care,” he said.
Now, Brown is the frontman of Baltimore band Bosley. They play everything from weddings, to clubs and even festivals like Light City. Regardless of venue, Bosley performances bring forth an energy that can transform a room.
“It’s been a journey of uphill and then downhill, sometimes steeply downhill and then back up again,” he said.
As a child, Brown grew up around Baltimore County, moving around because of his parents’ divorce. “At the time, I just didn’t know how to handle that … I went from being really hopeful to having this sort of melancholy side and feeling a little bit of a victim,” he said. Despite these feelings, Brown was a dreamer and these early years are where his roots as a performer began.
Beginning as a performer, Brown, still trying to find his footing, used drugs and alcohol, in an attempt to feel more confident.
“I was struggling to find a freedom on stage [and] I had to slough off the consciousness of being in front of an audience by doing things that were a little embarrassing or aggressive,” he remembered. “I would do these weird, dramatic sort of maudlin gimmicks that, ultimately, were just me being a little showy and pretentious.”
During this time, he told himself that he needed drugs and alcohol to be creative. “That’s just a story and the opposite is true,” he said.
In his 30s now and sober for five years, Brown will tell you that he did find what he had been searching for in his younger years, “I found a freedom to survive and I found that joy again that I had as a little kid about living and the wonder of it all. For awhile it was just doom.”
This joy clearly shows through in his records. Bosley’s music is fun; there’s no better way to put it. It blends all of the best elements of pop, soul and funk, creating a sort of evergreen sound.
Their albums are calculated and performative. “Honey Pig” swings and Brown’s voice comes through as the weird lovechild of Joe Cocker and Prince, but it works, and it works really well. On the other hand, “Dirty Dogs Radio Show” creates more of a fluid story line and is reminiscent of a Tom Waits album at times.
Also, Brown is involved in every aspect of the process, from the writing to the cover art. “It’s fun for me to curate an entire listening experience from the bones to the clothes,” he said.
Despite the success of these albums, Brown is moving in an entirely new direction. After recently becoming enthralled with Jamaican and electronic music, Brown is looking to incorporate some of these elements into his own sound.
He says he’s going to put out one, or possibly even two new albums next year. One, he recorded with Bosley as if it were 1965, creating a very authentic sound for the era. But, he “promptly got uninterested in that” and began in this new direction. The other is a reflection of his new musical obsessions, and is wildly different from what he has put out in the past.
He calls it a “cliched artist place.” Really, it’s a transformation of a local phenomenon. The songs that are impossible to shake from the everyday Baltimore musical consciousness are going to be completely evolved.
“I’m compelled to do something else, come hell or high water and I don’t care if I crash on the rocks, it’s going to be better than what I’ve been doing.”
Bosley’s music can be found on Spotify, iTunes, and anywhere that streams music.