Though their name suggests an unassuming personality, queer alt-pop artist a kid named rufus is brimming with individuality. Growing up in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, their penchant for self-expression led them to self-learning the skills they use most as one of today’s artists to watch. In their youth, YouTube was a resource that helped shape Rufus’ songwriting, production, and performance. Today, their studies happen on the campus of Syracuse University, but music is still in focus. Their work often unites the multiplicity of Rufus’ lived experiences, from the illusions of adolescence to the interplay between love and lust and their queer identity. No matter the subject, the tracks are always tinged with optimism, either in their easy-going delivery or by way of enlivened production. Having built a solid brand of sing-along anthems, a kid named rufus is primed for their next step in the pop landscape.
That next step will arrive on July 14th, when a kid named rufus shares his debut album, whatever works. While they are still bright-eyed in their approach, Rufus is set to delve into more daunting themes on the LP, namely homesickness, culture shock, and the ever-intimidating self. Their circumstances have provided plenty of challenges to Rufus’ artistic ambition. Born out of their turbulent first year in the United States, the writing on whatever works comes from the most vulnerable chapter of Rufus’ life. “I wrote songs about being broke, dealing with my anxiety, falling in and out of love, coming out as queer, fearing the world, and everything you'd think a teenager on their own for the first time would write about,” Rufus shares. “Making this album was the scariest, yet most fulfilling process I've ever gone through, and I'm so proud of the work I've created. I can't wait for people to hear it.”
In accordance with the announcement for whatever works, a kid named rufus shares “the cute girl from brewster hall” as a single to the upcoming LP. A sonic manifestation of the heart-eyes emoji, the track is fueled by oxytocin and unfiltered adoration. It captures the riveting novelty of a first love, specifically a crush developed during Rufus’ sophomore year of college. The scene depicted on the track is not far removed from reality: “I was working the front desk of this freshman dorm called Brewster Hall. I saw this girl swipe her ID at the front desk and I thought she was cute,” Rufus reminisces. “Later that day, I matched with her on Tinder. We started dating shortly after. I wrote this song for her as a present a few months into dating her.” The rom-com quality of their love story presents itself in the Wes Anderson-esque music video, arranged by director Chase Denton. Rufus’ growth as an artist corresponds with yet perils in comparison to their personal development; above all else, it’s their ability to overcome that makes them stand out. “I spent half of my time in Southeast Asia, where there are people like me, and I spent half my time in the US, where there aren't people like me,” says Rufus. “You don't see a lot of brown, queer, non-binary musicians. You don't see a lot of musicians in the States that are immigrants. Now, combine all four things together. That's me. And there's nobody like me.” Upon arrival of whatever works, the latter fact will render itself indisputable.
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