Home New Music An intimate window into Boywithahalo’s ‘16 years’

An intimate window into Boywithahalo’s ‘16 years’


Feeling like a stranger, like you don’t belong, is something anyone can relate to. But there’s an extra poignancy for the migrants, refugees and mixed race of this world, who carry on their hearts and faces souvenirs of various countries and cultures – but often can end up feeling like they don’t fit into any of them. It’s this specific confusion and vulnerability Boywithahalo taps into on ‘16 years’, inspired by their experience as a Chinese transplant to the US.

Boywithahalo 16 Years

Boywithahalo is an independent LGBTQ+ Asian-American musician, artist and content creator, with a DIY approach to music.

‘16 years’ is an intimate ballad about belonging, sonically soothing but with layers of uncertainty and conflicted emotion.

He combines poetic stream of consciousness lyrics – “waves pull me under, I hear the sound of thunder” with breathy, hesitant vocals, pondering the pulls of different places – ‘it’s cosy on this side…’. The simple, repetitive melodies add a childlike vulnerability.

The production is hypnotic, notably using strains of traditional Chinese instruments, singing notes of longing for a far off homeland. With that insistent two-note riff, and the swirling, layered vocals, it washes you into Boywithahalo’s perspective. Fans of more electronic acts like Metric, but also indie acts like Slowdive may recognise some influences. It’s a small yet gorgeous track, and I can’t help feeling this is an important voice from an artist coming from multiple, underrepresented communities.

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Words Eden Tredwell