This story is part of Dialing Up, a series where the Preen staff gets cozy and comfortable with your fave people.
Are we really in the middle of a girl group renaissance? The cultural impact of iconic girl groups endures and the demand for their present-day counterparts is seemingly rising. But have we really created a space for them to truly flourish on their own terms or are groups like Boys World still going against the grain?
Formed in 2019, Boys (Best Of Your Self) Worldis on a roll. On Aug. 21, the American girl group (composed of Olivia Ruby, Lillian Kay, Queenie Mae Villaluz, Elana Caceres, and Makhyli Simpson) dropped its stirring summer track “Something In The Water.” The single “All Me” and debut EP “While You Were Out,” released in April, have helped amass a strong following. It’s quickly proving to be one of the most exciting Gen Z acts today.
We got on a call with the girls to talk about how they wish to be perceived by fans, their fave items from their closet, going off-grid, and more. Here’s how our conversation went.
How have you been? How’s living in your new neighborhood? Any new hobbies for future “All About Me” episodes?
Queenie: We just moved to the city area. And it’s been…five months since we’ve lived here?! Oh my god! Before, we kind of lived in the middle of nowhere. Moving into the city, we [became] friends with our neighbours. They’re the first people that we could talk to and hang out with. Having everything reachable to us has been amazing.
Elana: We’ve really just grown. Right now, we’re writing music. We’re in that space.
Congratulations on the release of “Something in the Water”! What sets it apart from your previous releases?
Olivia: The video was different. We were outside. Usually, we film the music video on a set. Here, we [danced] on a rooftop and we went driving. The song has a live instrument vibe because it has an electric guitar and drums. That’s sort of different from what we’ve done before.
Queenie: Every song for us, at this moment, is very experimental. We’re at a point where we’re just trying everything and seeing what we like.
Elana: It’s also a reflection of what the five of us are going through. Before this, our EP was exactly what we needed then.
Olivia: Girl power.
Elana: Yeah. [With] “Something in the Water,” it’s [like] the summer [when] you want to try new things, even if it’s only for a night out.
You were first introduced as these very distinct personas. But you’ve shown us different facets of yourselves. At this point in time, what are you hoping that your fans perceive you as, individually?
Makhyli: Whoa. We’ve never had this [question] before.
Olivia: The wheels are turning!
Makhyli: I want Stars to know that I never claimed to be a good person. Just kidding. (The girls laugh in surprise.) I’m real at the end of the day. I don’t have socks on right now and I’m wearing bunny ears. (She asks if she can get rid of the gum she’s chewing before proceeding and it’s a delight.) I also want to make sure that little Black girls can look up to me and [I can tell them], “It’s harder for us but you can make it.” I want people to know that if you need to talk, hit my line. I’m here for you and we’re growing together.
Elana: I want the fans to know how big my heart is. I just want them to feel safe. They have a place to go to when they’re sad. And I want them to see the best version of myself, not to be ironic [because of the group’s name]. To just be real.
Queenie: There’s a stereotype of Asian girls being quiet. I was that person before that let people step on me. I grew up with my mom telling me, “Just leave it alone.” I had to find the balance and choose my battles throughout that process. I [love being the person Asian girls can] look up to so they can speak up for themself.
Lillian: I never had anybody that was openly shy, awkward, and reserved to look up to. Everyone else in the industry is more outgoing and crazy because that’s what you “have to be.” I just wanted to prove that if you’re shy, you can do your passion and still be yourself.
Olivia:I just hope that people know that it’s okay to feel sad and feel emotions. I’m super open about when I’m going through something—mental health, anxiety, and depression. I will post pictures about a bad day that I had. I hope that when they see my posts, they won’t feel alone. I want to be a big sister online and I hope that translates.
You’re also really into fashion. What’s one thing in your closet that never fails to make you feel powerful?
Olivia: I got this blazer from Depop and it’s cropped. It has a hand-painted silhouette of a woman. I love embracing the idea of a woman’s body. I’m a woman. I’m powerful. I can make babies. It speaks to me.
Queenie: For me, it’s just my big sweats. Small top. Big sweats.
Elana: Lately, it’s these gold hoop [earrings]. You can put them on [with] anything and [they] make an outfit.
Olivia: Oh my god. All of us have these stone rings. (They proudly show them off.)
Makhyli: I feel like I can talk to you all day. I just got these rainbow shoelaces. I would lace them up and I [feel like] I could kick somebody. I also got this necklace that glows in the dark. I got it from Six Flags and it has a bug in it.
Lillian: I was going to say my Docs because I wear them with every outfit. But I have this little rose quartz necklace that I literally never take off. It got broken three times but I super glued it.
Who’s a big musical influence for you?
Queenie: Doja Cat’s “Planet Her” has been our summer album. But if you think about it, she’s been here since TikTok started [to gain traction]. She’s kind of been with us through this whole process.
Boys World is big on TikTok and Instagram, but have you ever wanted to pull a Lorde and go off-grid?
Olivia and Queenie: Yes.
Lillian: Oh, every day. (The girls burst out laughing.)
Queenie: Going on a quick hideout and growing behind-the-scenes. If we were to ever do that and document it here and there for future things? Oh my god.
Olivia: That’s why I want us to go to Sweden, make a new album, and document it on our phone. That would be sick.
Queenie: Second album. Let’s do that. Bye! I post here and there but I get these moments where I’m like, “Oh my god. I want to get off my phone for days.” We actually did something today that gave me a lot of social anxiety. It was for filming a TikTok.
Olivia: There’s a lot of anxiety when you post something and you don’t know the response that you’re going to get. The bigger your audience gets, the more [you feel scared].
Here’s a couple of questions from a Boys World GC I’m a part of called Frapalupe. Do you ever feel pressured to prove that you guys get along?
Makhyli: I feel like people expect women to fail, in general. But I also feel like we don’t have to prove it because people can just see it so clearly. Like right now in this interview, we could not possibly fake it. You can just feel how genuine the energy is.
How did getting into the music industry impact you?
Queenie: There’s so many things that I didn’t know [about]. Like A&R (artists and repertoire), what the heck does that mean? You want to be a sponge and try to find the right crowd. Especially in L.A., it’s such a diverse community that there’s a place for everyone. We’ve been figuring out pockets where we fit in. I feel like Tayla [Parx] is someone who we feel comfortable with and is an inspiration to us creatively.
Lillian: This is our very own little college. That wasn’t really something that we were passionate about—going to college. Music is what we’re passionate about and we’re learning a lot.
What do you want the group’s legacy to be years from now?
Makhyli: A Gen Z group [has never had] such a close connection with their fans as us.
Olivia: One of the girl groups that played instruments and has that live band atmosphere.
Lillian: Our creative new ideas—our cover arts, our performances.
Queenie: The different puzzle pieces that come together and fit perfectly.
Elana: Wow, guys. Okay, Olivia just told me to talk about our fashion. I want us to be known for our outfits but I want us, 20 or 30 years down the line, to collectively have a beach house as a vacation spot. We can all have kids and have Christmas [together]. We’re going to have a show and it’s going to be “Boys World Now.”
Any message for older fans who might be finding it a little awkward interacting with the rest of the fandom?
Queenie: At the end of the day, we want everyone to be welcome no matter your age. Millennials and Gen Z have cultural differences but we might as well learn from each other. You are loved. If it gets awkward, come talk to us.
Olivia: And also, make your own way. I was also in a GC with a couple of 25-year-olds. I feel like everybody is a teenager at heart.
Makhyli: I feel like we got the baby bottle for the kids and we got the prune juice for the old folk.
Big or small and personal, what’s your next goal?
Olivia: I want to write the saddest ballad for this group with one of those bridges that overlap. Hopefully I get to write it with Elana next time.
Lillian: Y’know, a big body of work. Big and juicy.
Makhyli: I want to eat more meals. They know I’m a snacker.
Queenie: Truly same. I’m trying to gain a little bit of weight. I also want to grow my hair down to my butt.
Elana: I want to drink more water. (They give each other different types of high-fives.)
Stay tuned for our “Dialing Up” episode with Boys World.