Millennial Magazine - Features - Influencers - BONZIE spirtual-violence

© BONZIE, Photo by Jasper Soloff

As the vibrant hues of a Chicago sunset peer through the window into a creative sanctuary complete with guitar and keyboard, a beautiful girl with bold makeup and tousled hair joins us on Zoom. This is BONZIE—unapologetically herself, and ready to share her musical journey with Millennial.

Since first stepping onto the scene, this indie artist has carved out a niche for herself as a master of musical reinvention, seamlessly flowing from the raw edges of post-rock to the delicate whispers of folk and into the realms of fantastically surreal pop. 

The Chicago native turned LA-based artist isn’t just known for her genre-bending tunes; her live performances have captured hearts and garnered acclaim, with The New York Times lauding her ability to blend “delicacy and drama” into something truly mesmerizing. 

Following the success of her third album, “Reincarnation,” she continues to push boundaries. Now, with the soul-stirring single, “Spiritual Violence,” taking center stage, she’s preparing to dazzle us yet again with her upcoming full-length self-produced album, proving her mettle as an unstoppable force in music.

With a sound that defies easy categorization, BONZIE stands as a beacon of independent artistry in an industry that often seeks to pigeonhole talent. 

In our exclusive sit-down, we delve into the insights and inspirations behind her records, and are reminded of what it takes to be an artist in the digital landscape. 

Give us a quick background on your career as an artist.

I began writing songs and teaching myself guitar around the age of nine or ten, finding music as a necessary outlet. I was really obsessed with a lot of different music, but especially singer/songwriters. Throughout my life, music has been a constant, from playing shows in high school to evolving as an artist with my label, Beevine Records.

My journey has been about pursuing music seriously and never looking back. But I come from a traditional MidWestern family, that like any logical parent, didn’t want their kid to go into art. But it became a relationship that was unavoidable. Just the consistency of participating in music in a variety of ways made it more serious. 

Millennial Magazine - Features - Influencers - BONZIE Candid

© BONZIE, Photo by Jasper Soloff

What’s the story behind “Spiritual Violence” and its themes?

“Spiritual Violence” emerged from a personal place, serving as self-therapy during a challenging time. The concept explores intangible, often generational traumas and energies that persist over time.

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Having Teo on the song … I actually didn’t know him. I was driving to the gym and listening to local radio, and one of his songs came on. I parked and listened and thought, “I really like this…”

So I sent him a note. I listened to this track for a month as I was writing Spiritual Violence, and I think unconsciously I knew he would somehow rap on it. So I left a blank open space. Then we connected and I asked if he would be open to co-producing this song and he was down, so we did it. 

The great thing about being independent is that you don’t have any limits with who you can work with. This song reflects the power of independent artistic collaboration and the freedom to work with those whose music genuinely resonates with me.

Where do you derive inspiration for your art direction and fashion sense?

The visual aspect of what I do is an opportunity to add onto what I make musically. It offers another layer to my creative expression. I’ve always been drawn to artists who play with their image, particularly female artists. For me, playing with makeup and image is just fun, something I’d enjoy even if I weren’t a musician.

Millennial Magazine - Feature - Influencer - BONZIE Ryza Atelier

© BONZIE

How do you make money as an independent artist?

Earning a living as an independent artist is challenging, requiring diversification and creativity in income sources. I’ve ventured into music for video games, singing theme songs for Arc Nights, games like League of Legends and for Riot Games. And merch is so important.

Its the most direct way you can support an artist that you really like- go buy their merch! I always make vinyl and I write whoever buys my vinyl a little note. And I practiced budget-conscious decision-making. Being independent offers freedom but demands smart planning and versatility.

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Tell us about your experience with the EastWest studio sessions?

When we decided to do that session, I really had no idea how it was going to turn out. My band and I (Wes, Dakota, and Jonathan), had a couple of rehearsals, played through the songs a few times, worked out arrangements…but by the time we got to the studio, it all went out the window…in a good way. We just had fun, jammed, and recorded it. Didn’t know it would turn into something really great. 

And the guy who filmed it- Jack Lawrence Meyer- we’ve been friends for over 10 years, he’s from Chicago. So we all had a lot of fun putting this together, and we’re really happy with it.

It was a collaborative effort that allowed us to capture the essence of our music in a new and exciting way.

Describe your sound in 2024 and how your music has evolved over time.

I’ve played with a lot of different styles over the years, being independent, which has allowed me the freedom to explore without limits. Currently, I’m self-producing a record, a first for me on such a large project. If I had to describe my style now, I’d say it’s organic and colorful.

Where did the name BONZIE come from?

I made up the name “BONZIE” because I liked how the letters looked together and the energy it conveyed—powerful yet playful. It represents how I approach my music, a mix of strength and a lighthearted touch, distinct from using my legal name. 

And I really like language. I studied Japanese for quite some time, and I’m part Armenian, so I think it’s interesting how words can change meaning over time. Something that can mean so much to you might mean nothing to someone else, just because they don’t speak the same language.

Words hold so much emotion and power, but they are also just sound. BONZIE is that- a made up word that feels like a new language. 

Who are three artists that inspire or influence your sound? Is there anyone you find yourself emulating?

I don’t try to emulate anyone specifically because I’m not sure I could even if I tried. However, I’ve been significantly influenced by Judee Sill, Joni Mitchell, and Bjork. These artists, including KT Tunstall, have been huge inspirations for me, especially in their unique approaches to music and songwriting.

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I think a lot of people are doing really creative and inventive work all the time. I’m always listening to new stuff.

Who’s on your playlist right now?

Today, I’ve been listening to J. Cole’s new record. I really respect him, especially as a writer. His work stands out to me for its depth and craftsmanship.

Millennial Magazine - Features - Influencers - BONZIE in studio

© BONZIE

What are you currently working on, and what future projects do you have planned?

I’ve just finished mixing my album, a self-produced and engineered project that represents a new chapter in my music career. I’m excited about the upcoming mastering and artwork, looking forward to sharing this deeply personal project with my audience. Additionally, I hope to tour and continue to explore my love for Japanese culture and language, potentially expanding my fan base in Japan.

Where to Find More…

It’s clear BONZIE’s music is not just heard, but deeply felt—a vibrant tapestry of sound and soul that invites us to explore and discover ourselves. With each chord, each lyric, she not only shares a piece of herself but also crafts a mirror for us to see our own experiences, emotions, and dreams. 

As she prepares to unveil her next album, BONZIE’s story reminds us of the transformative power music has to connect, heal, and inspire. If you’re in search of an indie artist who defies convention, whose music transcends the barriers between genres to reach the heart of human experience, let BONZIE be your guide. 

Be sure to check her out her website, and follow her on YouTube, Spotify and Instagram.

 

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