Dua Boakye: My Hometown — How Boston Continues To Inspire Bad Rabbits
From the church choir to the Boston Music Awards, with: Bad Rabbits frontman, Dua Boakye
Today is Boston Music Awards day in our great hometown of Boston. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Boston Music Awards is an annual event, now held at the House of Blues, that honors outstanding talent from the Massachusetts area. Categories include everything from Artist of the Year, to Music Photographer of the Year, to Session Artist of the Year.
Up for three nominations this year is Boston’s own, Bad Rabbits — in the categories of Album of the Year (for American Nightmare), R&B Artist of the Year, and a nod for their frontman, Dua Boakye for Male Vocalist of the Year.
With that, it is our great pleasure to have our next “My Hometown” feature with Boakye himself, where he touches upon starting off in the church choir, finding continual inspiration within our local scene, and the emotion of winning a Boston Music Award.
What is your background in Boston — where did you grow up? What was your earliest memory of being introduced to music?
I was born in Boston and raised in Weymouth, MA. My earliest memory of music would have to be in the church. I can’t remember the songs, but I remember my mom singing along to me. My introduction to music was through the Pentacostal church. If I never experienced that, I probably would’ve ended up a world class loser.
What were some of your first musical influences?
My first musical influences were rock, soul and gospel. Growing up in my house as a kid, we only listened to gospel (my dad enforced that rule) or soul music. My mother would play Otis Redding a lot. She also liked country…so I heard a lot of that.
Are there any specific musical experiences within your community that you can attribute to your success?
I sang in the church choir. I didn’t have a great voice at the time and for some reason I could only sing saprano. I didn’t mind it cause I would be around all the females. Come to realize it, I think I did that on purpose. LOL .
When did you start to get serious about music? Playing, performing, and collaborating?
I got serious about music after my first show with then Eclectic Collective (now Bad Rabbits). From then on, I knew that music was gonna be the only thing I took seriously.
What was it about Boston that you found to be so intriguing from an arts perspective?
It’s the different cultures of people that I would see playing music. Growing up, I had this toxic mindset that you had to be a certain race to play a certain style. That wasn’t true in Boston. Case and point — Bad Rabbits. We are the most multi-ethnic group of musicians. Period.
When Bad Rabbits started, how did being a Boston group influence your decisions? What did it mean to you to be embedded in in the Boston scene?
I was from an area where rockers where heralded as musical heroes. I want to be one of those heroes one day. That’s all it meant. I knew I would have to bring my all and then some to the stage.
Are there any local music clubs/venues/ radio stations — that have been very influential to you in the Boston music scene?
The only radio stations I used to listen to back in my radio loving days: 101.7 FM and 88.9 FM. I would get my rock dose from 101.7 and my real hip hop love from 88.9 at night. I used to tape the radio shows and play them back on my walkman when i was going to school.
From your experience, what do you find to be so unique about the Boston music scene today?
The scene has died and resurrected in the last couple years. I’m seeing a lot more afro punks and cool indie artist slap the scene around lately. Artist like Moe Pope and Hassan Barclay….nasty dudes.
Boston is very culturally rich in terms of the arts with — Berklee, Aerosmith, The Paradise, Street Performers, Boston Calling Festival… have any of these channels influenced Bad Rabbits?
All of them fam. All of them
Did any specific Boston artist serve as a mentor for you or Bad Rabbits?
No. I had no mentors. Just Sly Stone in my brain. I like to think that Sly is like my long lost uncle that unconsciously taught me how to sing soul music. As for the ban, we have a massive amount of Boston hardcore artist that are too long to list, but they all influence us.
What about artists such as Aerosmith, Dropkick Murphys, J Geils, etc — did seeing their success inspire Bad Rabbits?
Steven Tyler is the man…he made me believe in the power of rock n roll. It’s so fun to watch perform.
With your newest music , American Nightmare and “Mysterious”, — how did Boston play in? Did you write and record in Boston? Is any song about a Boston experience?
We wrote in so many places, but Boston was the place were we really honed in and stepped up our sound. I was living on the other side of the country when we started writing American Nightmare. I moved back to Boston and finished American Nightmare here. I feel like if I didn’t move back we wouldn’t have such a project that we would be proud of.
What does the Boston Music Awards mean to you?
It means a lot. Any award/award nomination for your works should be held to the highest of standards. It’s not why we do what we do, but it is a really dope thank you from the people who appreciate your passion. It’s an honor. It truly is.
What is your favorite thing(s) about being a Boston artist?
Being a 1st generation African dude from Boston, singing rock/rnb/soul/pop It doesnt get any weirder/amazing than that.
~ Dua Boakye