On 'Wachito Rico,' Boy Pablo Yearns For His First Love
Growing a mustache. Teaching a girl to dance. Lying in bed on a rainy morning.
These are the everyday daydreams of Wachito Rico, the titular character at the heart of Boy Pablo's new album.
And they're not far off from the real life of Nico Muñoz, the 21-year-old Chilean-Norwegian musician behind Boy Pablo.
"Wachito Rico is just a normal boy that really wants to get this girl," Muñoz tells NPR's Weekend Edition. "It started out as a joke. Then I realized it sounded like a character and that's exactly what I wanted for this album — to create a character that I write about and also that I act out in the music videos we've made."
Wachito Rico, which is Chilean slang translating to "handsome boy," is Muñoz's first full-length album since his major splash onto the indie pop scene in 2017. At the time, a video of Muñoz and his friends performing his song "Everytime" went viral on YouTube.
It spurred dozens of covers and tutorials, with fans trying their best to emulate his bedroom pop soundscape of slick synths and sunny guitar riffs.
"I didn't know that that was a thing before I heard of all these bedroom pop artists," he says. "It was just a space that I liked to be alone in and create whatever I want because I mean, I feel safe here. It's really cozy and it's apart from everybody else."
Muñoz started playing guitar at age 11, when he made it a goal to learn covers of his favorite Blink 182 songs. From there, he transitioned into trying to make punk music, which he says didn't fare so well — it wasn't until he discovered bands like Tame Impala, Vampire Weekend and Mac DeMarco that a whole new world of indie music began to open up for him.
And he's stayed independent through his online success. He prefers complete control over his creative decisions, he says, which is why he's not planning to sign a deal with a major label anytime soon. Instead, he relies mainly on social media to provide updates for his new music and videos.
For Wachito Rico, Muñoz released a five-chapter "cinematic album" that captures standout singles like the breezy "hey girl" — inspired by his real-life nerves to ask out his current girlfriend — and the bilingual disco theme "wachito rico," in which he insists he can show his love interest how to move her hips.
"It's just like a regular love story really from a coming-of-age movie," Muñoz says. "Me and my manager were watching a lot of movies by Wes Anderson and Jared Hess, so inspired by that we created a story of our own."
But it's not all rainbows and sunshine — things take a turn for Wachito when his first love finds him dealing with his first heartbreak. And those rough patches shine through in "I <3 U," which he says is currently his favorite song on the album because it's dedicated to a special person from his teenage years.
"I was having such a depressing time in high school. I went through a lot of crap," he says. "And this person really lightened up my life."
Several days after speaking with NPR, Muñoz posted on Instagram that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was isolating himself in his brother's apartment. He wrote that he's "doing fine."
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