Boys World Shakes Ass, Brings Sass, and Heals From a Bad Romance on ‘So What’

·7 min read
boysworld-coughs - Credit: Coughs
boysworld-coughs - Credit: Coughs

The girls of Boys World have the power of sisterhood to get them through anything. Nearly a year after introducing themselves with their debut EP While You Were Out, the rising girl group — comprising Olivia Ruby, Queenie Mae, Makhyli, Lillian Kay, and Elana Cáceres — is entering a new era of maturity and friendship as they release their single “So What” on Wednesday.

“We needed that time away to really figure out what we want our music to sound like,” Elana tells Rolling Stone. “We’re growing into these young women.”

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“We’ve experienced more, too,” says Makhyli. “We’re talking about more mature things in the music. And you get a little hint of that in this new record,” adds Olivia. Queenie chimes in, putting the new single in context: “It’s the bridge between us then and us now.”

Boys World was formed by KYN Entertainment — helmed by Simon Cowell’s former righthand man Sonny Takhar — in 2019 as an attempt to make the next big girl group. Slowed down by the pandemic, the girls worked tirelessly to build a following on TikTok, reaching a million followers on the app shortly after releasing their debut single, “Girlfriends,” in the fall of 2020.

The following year, they dropped their debut EP — featuring ballad “Relapse” and standout “Touched by an Angel” — along with a handful of singles as a mere introduction to their collective artistry. But now they’re back with “So What.”

“The album that got us through it all, and that we all collectively as friends listened to, was Planet Her by Doja Cat,” explains Elana. “And I feel like when we were writing this new music, we were like, ‘Can we write songs that we can have girls vibe in the car with their friends?’ ” And they accomplish exactly that with the self-empowering new single.

To accompany the sassy track, the girls released a colorful, choreography-filled music video that highlights each of the girls’ personalities. Though they are a group, the girls are cognizant about highlighting their individuality and letting it shine through their music. (After all, the “boys” in Boys World stands for “Best Of YourSelf.”)

“As individuals, we are all different — pop, R&B, hip-hop, indie, rock, punk, all the genres that you want,” says Queenie. “But when it comes together, it makes Boys World. Like for some reason, whenever we listen to music, we just like what we like together.”

“We want to make people feel good with our music. We’re making music to help people have fun,” adds Lillian.

Zooming with Rolling Stone from their “circle table” — the place the girls come to each morning to eat breakfast, share their feelings, and get hyped for the day — Boys World opens up about “So What,” their songwriting, and their sisterhood.

Makhyli, I heard you got to write on this song.

Makhyli: This is so weird to talk about. I’ve always just been a writer, and to have it translate into something that’s fun is so great. I feel like when I was writing it, I heard Missy Elliott vibes in it. I also wanted to encapsulate the Y2K feel that we’re going with. It’s really surreal. Honestly, I keep forgetting that I wrote on it because it’s like, “Who do you think you are, girl?” We got a demo we liked, but we needed something to spice it up. We felt like there was something missing. The universe poured this into my head, and I created this little rappy section. I heard Elana, and what’s your name? [all laugh] Olivia. I was like, “They would slay this.” There’s so much energy. We needed to change it up, alright!

Elana: Not only that but “So What” sets the tone for the music that we’re going to release in the future.

Queenie: It’s that transition.

Can we talk about the dancing and the ass-shaking in this video!

Queenie: You haven’t even seen all the dancing. The video is like 30 percent dancing, but the whole song has dance from the first second to the last second. It’s not shown in the music video, but it will be soon.

Makhyli: We leveled up a lot of our dancing. Now it’s like, “Wow, girls.”

Elana: Everyone has a moment that speaks to them. And you can really feel the friendship. The day we shot that music video was actually so fun. Like with the water!

Makhyli: Oh yes, that hose scene at the end!

The music video looked like so much fun to film.

Makhyli: The amount of caffeine in our blood! [laughs]

Olivia: I got severely sunburnt for like three weeks. My chest was a tomato for so long. But it was worth it!

Queenie: With the video for “So What,” I think we wanted it to be just fun being with your girls and having a great time. We were like, “Fuck it. Let’s just shake some ass.”

Elana: Honestly, we did all go through some things and breakups. And now we’re out here being like, “So What!”

Not to get into the feels, but how do you get through breakups together?

Elana: I went through my breakup two months ago. It was weird, it was one weekend of a bunch of breakups happening.

Queenie: Literally one weekend.

Elana: I couldn’t sleep in my room because I was just so sad and heartbroken. Like there were times I couldn’t even work. And so I asked the girls, and I was like, “Can we just all sleep on the couch? Like I literally can’t sleep.” And they did: we all slept on the couch for a week. We were just together, crying together, journaling together, listening to music. We’d listen to sad music, and then we’d put on Doja or Megan Thee Stallion.

Queenie: That was literally the morning routine for about two weeks. We’d wake up, come to the circle table, everyone has their journal out, we’re writing are feeling and talking to each other and crying. We listen to some sad music, and then we shake some ass. All of a sudden Megan Thee Stallion was on after crying, and we were shaking ass.

Lilliam: I literally feel like that’s the best post-breakout recipe.

Queenie: We’re all happy and healing. That’s us this summer.

Makhyli: I’ve never gone through a breakup, but honestly, I feel like I could do it because I have them. I couldn’t do it alone. Now I’m like, “Break my heart. Come on!”

What do you hope people take away from this song?

Queenie: A lot of us went through what this song is about together. We want you to listen to it and feel it but also just have a good time. Live that shit up. To live in the moment right now is very real to us.

Makhyli: Also, because we’re women too. I feel like it’s okay to be reckless. It’s okay to be free and to cause a scene. I feel like this song is like, “Fuck you fuck that. And what about it?” Being sassy sometimes is looked down on. Like “You have to be poised. Perfect. Feminine.” But like, in this video, we’re causing scenes. We’re throwing stuff. It’s just crazy.

Is adding your own songwriting a big next step for you girls?

Olivia: Just you freaking wait. We just had a meeting about the next song that we want to put out, and we put our DNA in that. Everybody wrote parts and pieces of what they wanted to say about themselves.

Makhyli: It couldn’t be more us, honestly.

Queenie: We definitely have a handful of songs that we wrote on our own. Even some with no co-writers — just us in the booth with a producer and engineer, which is amazing. We’ve never done that. And that song that Olivia was talking about was actually accidentally without a co-writer because we showed up and called the writer, and she was like, “Girls, I have COVID I’m not gonna be there.”

Olivia: And it became the first time we wrote without a co-writer in the room and just a producer.

Queenie: And you know what? We came with a bop!

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