Bonzai is the Irish SingerSongwriter Bringing Technicolor Rave to Modern R&B: New Face, Fresh Style
publish date: 2017-10-06
Cassia O’Reilly belongs to a musical family. Born to a jazz singer and drummer, she grew up in the small village called Wicklow outside of Dublin, writing her first song before the age of ten. Today, she makes alternative R&B teetering on the edge of late night electronic dance as Bonzai (which, for the record, has nothing to do with the tree). Her bold, energetic sound and style have propelled her from singing backing vocals for British singer NAO to collaborating with emerging producer Mura Masa and opening for Flume’s world tour.
From the experimental rap-singing of Bonzai’s 2015 debut EP Royah to the virulent house beats of her 2016 EP Sleepy Hungry, the 21-year-old has been flexing her wide range of musical influences as well as her own creativity. “I was raised on literally all sorts—indie, R&B, rock, a lot of hip-hop, opera,” O’Reilly tells . “My brother is more into the underground stuff and that’s what I really got into for a while. I was listening to beats and industrial stuff from producers like Mumdance and Sega Bodega.” She counts Azealia Banks, M.I.A., Ashanti, and rave music pioneers the Chemical Brothers as fundamental inspirations behind the creation of Bonzai.
Much like her music, O’Reilly’s personal style is largely informed by her carefree exploration and individuality. By 14-years-old, she was clubbing with a fake I.D. In high school, she busked in a band and freestyled at parties with friends in high school. Eventually, she graduated a year early to study music in London at 17. “I just wear what I like to be honest,” O’Reilly muses. With the same nonchalance she speaks of her budding musical career—“I was kind of just experimenting”—she talks about her colorful, oversized, and intuitive style as “pretty casual.”