Why Manchester is the new creative epicentre of neo-soul and hip-hop
Still only 21, Bonzai AKA Cassia O’Reilly is about to make a splash. Not like anything you've heard before, she is a breath of fresh air with her brand of R&B with hip-hop and punk rock sensibilities, pushing the boundaries with each sound. Hailing from the town of Wicklow, outside Dublin (and born in Indiana, USA), both of her parents are jazz musicians, which not only introduced her to her future but also served as her musical background. Despite this, listening to the likes of Destiny's Child and her time in music college marked a shift from her parental influence, causing her to decide what music she wanted to make.
Her breakthrough came through a chance encounter with Dummy Records' own, NAO who, after hitting it off, got the young Bonzai to provide backing vocals for her. This huge connection led to another, when she was introduced to producer extraordinaire Mura Masa, who was blown away by her talent, and released her two debut EPs on his Anchor Point label, including assistance on his monster hit, 'What If I Go.' Fast forward to 2017, and Bonzai is fully rocking on her own. New single 'I Feel Alright' is an immaculate start, channelling the spirit of P!NK’s rave and rock pop, via Mura Masa’s dance-floor trap feels and some 90s rave vibes.
Her star is shining so brightly that she has graced the festival circuit, shutting the likes of Parklife and Wildlife down. With the world at her feet, this down-to-earth, enigmatic young woman is only just getting started, and the British alt-pop scene is better for his place in it. We spoke to her about her upbringing, her new single and her three favourite ladies…
…on why she wanted to make music
Bonzai: "3 things: Kelly, Beyonce, Michelle (but you don't want to be a Michelle)."
…on her sound
"Like most things these days, its hard to pin down but its some kinda very twisted RnB/hip-hop I guess?"
…on life in Wicklow
There were a few nights I'd spend with my friend milo at his house in Wicklow (specifically Roundwood which is proper countryside vibes) ..We'd eat some freshly picked mushrooms, get loose by a lake and write music together .. That was nice.
…on having musicians as parents
"They were both musicians but they are also very fun, open minded people, I think thats been more important. Its allowed me to be myself and to be comfortable and strong in the decisions i make.. so .. yeah .. shout out Stan and Carmen..
…on her influences
"3 things: Kelly, Beyonce, Michelle."
…on her relationship with NAO
"We matched on Tinder, hit it off straight away and she asked me to do backing vocals for her. Of course I said yes because she's a goddess, and the rest was magical."
…on her new single, ‘I Feel Alright’
"Willlld willld willld."
…on performing at Parklife and Wildlife festivals
"Super fun, free drinkm free festival ticket…I also get to play my sweet sweet music, what more could a girl want?"
…on her plans for the rest of the year?
"Make LUV and listen to the music …. maybe let myself go."
Watch 'I Feel Alright' below: