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Introducing $pookyBoi

Interview With An Artist Trying to Break Onto the Music Scene

By J. Delaney-HowePublished 3 months ago Updated 2 months ago 10 min read
Photo by $pookyBoi

Introducing $pookyboi

Syracuse, NY is home to a thriving local music scene. With several venues, no shortage of talent, and a revival in local art, the local music scene is poised to be discovered. They even have a Syracuse playlist on Spotify. You can find that here:

At the end of this interview, you will be able to hear $pookyBoi’s latest, dropped today!

This interview is with a local artist who is part of the music scene and working his ass off to be discovered. Below is an unedited transcript of our conversation. You will get a real feeling for who he is through his answers.

What is your stage name? Explain why you chose that.

My stage name is $pookyBoi. I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s one reason in specific I chose that stage name, to be honest there’s multiple. One of the big reasons was the artists I heavily listened to at the time. I was going through a period of “rebranding” my solo music so to speak. I was listening to a lot of $uicideboy$ (hence the $ sign as the S), and lots of Lil Peep who has a song called “Ghost Boy.” Beyond just that I’ve always been in love with horror movies, Halloween, and other “spooky” art forms. I worked at Frightmare Farms for several years and really loved it. I originally started releasing music on SoundCloud while working there back in 2019. The name just kinda seemed to fit what I was doing, and loved.

Tell me how you got started in music?

Honestly, music is in my blood. My father was a musician and worship leader growing up, and my uncle played in a hardcore band named GHOSTxSHIP. So, I kinda had both ends of the spectrum when it came to secular vs non-secular music. I grew up learning percussion, and singing traditionally in school but had a love for it far before school was even a thought. As a baby I had my father playing “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson (how ironic), and my uncle playing “Cemetary Gates” by Pantera to calm me. By 4 years old I was performing *NSYNC’s Madison Square Garden concert to the VHS, costume changes and all for my family.

What is your genre of music?

I’m not really sure hahaha. Honestly I would consider my music a blend of Emo, Drill, 2000s R&B, and Pop-Punk. To most people they’d just call it emo rap I suppose. I get the weirdest comparisons sometimes.

Who are some of your musical influences?

It’s always so weird answering this one because it consists of so many different artists/ genres. Much like my musical upbringing, my influence is always on both sides of the spectrum. On one hand, I love drill artists like Lil Durk, King Von, Jaydayoungan, Youngeen Ace, NBA Youngboy, etc. But, on the other hand I also love me some sad boy rap like JuiceWrld, Lil Peep, $uicideboy$, XXXTENTACION etc. So it's definitely a range. On an even bigger scale, I also draw influence from other genres, not just rap. I draw a lot of influence melodically from emo and pop punk artists like My Chemical Romance, The Story So Far, Moose Blood, Relient K, even Coldplay. On hype tracks I even have drawn influence from heavy bands like Counterparts, Casey, and other post-hardcore bands. I have even drawn a lot of influence from local artists, people like Bxtchwrxsts, Jeremy Romance, 4ttics, Rico Nix, Nick Nova, Zaya Lee, Furco, Stoyan, Vinny Freeman, Tommy Beane, The RealRawBreed, and many others. People that just breathe new air into my music.

How do you feel about performing live?

I love it. I hate the awkwardness leading up to it, but performing is rad. Any chance that I get to show my art, my music, my passion to someone is a blessing. I always think it’s funny what people have to say to you after you perform. With the metal and pop punk scene you always got the obligatory “Nice set bro.” With rap music I’m finding the equivalent is “You sound like a...” fill in the blank with a descriptive word and then some nationally known artist. It’s super funny.

How do you feel about the process?

It fuckin sucks sometimes. But I guess it really all depends on what kind of song I’m making. There’s been times I’ve been sitting in a state of the art studio singing with every ounce of my being. Going until my voice is cracking. Coming out of the booth to everyone in silence listening to the playback. Followed by some somber compliments. I’ve had times where I got my heart broken and recorded all night until 5 in the morning crying in my boy’s living room studio. There’s a lot of pain that goes into my music. On the flip side, there’s also a lot of fun, more upbeat tracks that I recorded with those same people. Times where it started as a party and ended up a freestyle sesh, or bedroom recording sesh. Times where we went to the studio after some fun at the bar or club and then made some bangers at 3 am in that same state of the art studio I was choking up, on the verge of tears in the week before. The process is such a roller coaster, but I love the ride.

It is obviously difficult to break into the music scene. Why is that? What are some of the challenges you face?

Breaking into the music scene is such a weird gamble. Sometimes it takes one 10 second tik tok to blow you up, sometimes it takes years of hard work, sometimes it just doesn't happen. A lot of the reason for that is the lack of support and jealousy among artists. My hometown Syracuse is a city full of so much talent. If people worked together we could be the next big city for rap, and music in general. A lot of artists have a big issue with fear of missing out. People think that if someone blows up from your city it hinders your chances of blowing. Almost like they took the spot everyone is trying to get. If everyone worked together and supported each other a vast majority of us could break through.

How important is the local music scene to success?

I feel like it’s similar to what I said about breaking into the music scene. The local music scene can make or break you. It’s usually one of those things where you’re either spinning your wheels in the dirt or you’re a hometown hero. Hometown favourites definitely have a better chance at success than the average artist who no one really supports in town. However, if your hometown doesn’t have love for you, that doesn't mean you’re screwed. You can sometimes find success in other cities or on social media. It seems like when an artist leaves Syracuse they instantly blow up.

Where do you draw from when you write?

Most of the things I write about I have personally gone through or my loved ones have gone through. A lot of my more somber songs like “Broken” or “Better Days” talk about losing loved ones to gang violence, and drugs as well as the other negatives that come along with the reckless lifestyle I was living. Some of my songs like “Gotdamn (She's a killer)” and “Again” talk about my experiences with toxic relationships, and being a victim of domestic abuse. I use my music as therapy a lot of the time. I struggle with PTSD and this is a great outlet. Beyond that they say the best art imitates life.

What are your future plans? What are you working towards?

I am hoping to release a full length album hopefully soon. That and I really would like to tour/ play some festivals this year. Long term though? I really hope that I can make music a career. It would be amazing to take the financial stress off the backs of my loved ones. If I ever “hit it big” with my music my goal is to open a worship center. Basically, it'd be a giant community; a general gathering area in the center for people of different religions and beliefs to mingle, as well as a nice place for people to go when they want to figure out what they believe. From that center common ground area it would branch off into different sanctuaries for each religion/ belief like little pods. I think it would be a great way to promote community, as well as provide a safe place for people of all different backgrounds.

What are some of the struggles you have had throughout your musical journey?

I’ve had a lot of personal struggles and also just run of the mill musician struggles. Rap has this weird contradiction to it. If you don’t stand on the things in your songs you’re blacklisted. However, that same pressure to conform is the reason we've lost so many artists to gang violence, and drug addiction. On top of that, up until very recently there was a stigma attached to being emo in the hip-hop scene. It was kinda one of those “you can't be both” situations. I struggled with both of those issues real bad, for a long time. I was so invested into becoming something marketable that I lost sense of myself.

How important is lifestyle and personal choices in your success?

Lifestyle choices are everything when it comes to success. I know so many people that ended up in jail, or dead because of their lifestyle choices. People who could’ve been some of the most successful artists in the city. Hell, I may not be dead or in jail but I lost a lot to drug addiction and street violence. I hindered a lot of my success trying to conform to what you’re constantly told makes you a “real artist.” Even on a less serious note, being smart with your money is huge for success. You can’t record if you have no money. You can’t market your music if you have no money. You can’t travel to gigs if you have no money. If you want to make it with music, every decision you make should be a step towards making that happen. That in itself personally is my biggest downfall. I wasn’t taking steps towards success.

What is your personal life like now, outside of music?

My personal life now has done a complete 180. I guess you could say I “looked the man in the mirror” and asked “him to change his ways.” I am now engaged to the most amazing woman I have ever met. She has a 5 year old who is painfully just like me. Those two saved my life. Not figuratively.. Literally. I would have been killed if I had not drastically changed my life. Whether it be the “opps” I so badly wanted or by my own choices, I would not be here today if it weren't for them. I work as a stagehand now, when I’m not at work I am a stay at home dad. I still am actively pursuing music, I just had to take a long hiatus from music so I could pick up the pieces of me that were left. I still struggle heavily with PTSD, and anxiety after everything I went through. At least now I’m not such a cold hearted little punk trying to prove something. Now, I’m someone with a lot of wisdom to offer the next generation of up and coming musicians.


I happen to know $pookyboi well. He is my son, and his name is James. I am so proud of him for turning his life around while still pursuing his music dreams. He has been musical from the age of two, and he is a fantastic drummer and a beautiful guitar player as well. I can’t wait to see where his journey takes him. You can check out his new music here:


About the Creator

J. Delaney-Howe

Husband. Father. Artist. Writer. Seeker.

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Comments (4)

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  • Tiffany Gordon 2 months ago

    What a cute kid! My gut told me he was your son, when I first saw him. I really enjoyed the song- it's vulnerability, vibe & beat! An Impressive sound!👍🏾 Very engaging article as well! 👍🏾Thx for sharing Jim! 😊

  • Awww, he's your son! That was such a delightful surprise! Loved his song Again!

  • Gina C.2 months ago

    What a wonderful and informative interview!! I really loved $pookyboi‘s insight, and it was so lovely to find out he’s your son!! ❤️

  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    Fabulous interview!!! Much success to James!!!

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