Malaysian-born, NYC-based rising queer alt-pop artist a kid named rufus (they/them) shares their debut album ‘whatever works’ via Nettwerk. After a series of singles and a debut EP under their belt, the songs from a kid named rufus’ latest album mark a giant leap forward – both sonically and lyrically as they solidify their artistic and personal identity.
The obstacles in a kid named rufus’ journey are captured on their open-hearted, ultra-catchy debut album. The assortment of tracks is a sublime showcase of their boundary-pushing style and meditative lyrical content alluding to the early but distressing days of adulthood. ‘whatever works’ is a vibrant and striking collection of songs touching on topics of queerness, identity, homesickness, adulting, love, lust, culture shock, and much more. But perhaps most importantly, the album reflects the struggles and personal growth Rufus has endured leading to present day.
a kid named rufus conveys this about their debut album: “‘whatever works’ is an album about my first year in the United States. I started writing the album the summer after freshman year, and I wanted to talk about how much life has changed and how much I still had left to navigate coming from straight out of high school, from a different country, during the peak of a global pandemic.
I wrote songs about being broke, dealing with my anxiety, falling in and out of love, coming out as queer, fearing the world, and everything you’d think a teenager on their own for the first time would write about. Making this album was the scariest, yet most fulfilling process I’ve ever gone through, and I’m so proud of the work I’ve created. I can’t wait for people to hear it.”
The bouncy and bubbly “the cute girl from brewster hall” tells the story of a kid named rufus’ first love in college and explores the subjects of romance, love, and sexuality. Rufus follows with “how sweet does this sound?” which takes a wilder turn as Rufus reflects on their exposure to the hook-up culture.
A soulful effort centered with youthful optimism, twinkling melodies, and heartfelt alt-pop cadences, “eighteen (ft. Cole Bauer)” reminisces on being younger, wishing things could be the way they used to be. The jangling, synth-packed “tryhard” (co-written with Benji Cormack of slenderbodies) is about letting go of the pressures in your life and freeing yourself of responsibilities.
The new captivating track “running away from whatever you call paradise” is an exquisite fusion of experimental indie/alt-pop and whimsical storytelling that touches upon the introspection and self-discovery that one comes across in college.
Based on a true story, “stuck in san antonio” is a poignant and emotionally charged song that reflects on a tumultuous relationship. After the emotional fallout, a kid named rufus found themselves in Austin, Texas, where they crossed paths with Benji Cormack from slenderbodies and Alex Alfonzo from Night Cap. The creative synergy was immediate, leading to the swift completion of “stuck in san antonio” within a day. The break-up themed track blends captivating melodies, dynamic guitar riffs, and unsettling lyrics, marking a departure into a new rock-inspired sound for the young artist.
Transitioning into adulthood is already a hideous process, even under the best of circumstances. For Malaysian-born, queer bedroom-pop performer Rufus Sivaroshan, who performs as a kid named rufus, leaving home was exponentially more challenging. The now 20-year-old Rufus is thriving at Syracuse University, where they major in music business while simultaneously fostering a burgeoning music career.
Drawing inspiration from a range of influences – from Weezer to Alex G to Mac DeMarco and Dayglow – Rufus grew up in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, where they taught themselves to write, play, and produce music on YouTube. In the fall of 2021, a kid named rufus released their debut EP ‘graduation’, an assortment of easy listening, loveable indie pop tracks that paint vivid soundscapes of pure bliss that garnered more than 1.8M Spotify streams.
Now, ‘whatever works’ only goes to show that it doesn’t matter where in the world you come from: some feelings are universal. At the same time, a kid named rufus’ debut LP is a remarkable look at the contemporary immigrant experience.
“I spent half of my time in Southeast Asia, where there are people like me, and I spent half my time in the US, where there aren’t people like me. You don’t see a lot of brown, queer, non-binary musicians. You don’t see a lot of musicians in the States that are immigrants. Now, combine all four things together. That’s me. And there’s nobody like me.” – a kid named rufus
a kid named rufus is already a rising force to be reckoned with – their previous singles from the new album was released to wide support from notable press and tastemakers globally and across Asia, like Billboard, NYLON Manila, Hitz FM (Malaysia), Media Indonesia and more, as well as landing key Spotify playlists Made in Malaysia, ORG, tapioca, Indie Shuffle, and more.
Though based halfway across the globe, Rufus has grown a significant fanbase in Asia, with Asian markets now dominating their Top 10 streaming markets including Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong.
‘whatever works’ Tracklisting
1. whatever works
2. the cute girl from brewster hall
3. how sweet does this sound?
4. eighteen (ft. Cole Bauer)
5. moving across the world sucks
8. running away from whatever you call paradise
9. i hate being cool
10. a conversation between dan and ian
11. stuck in san antonio
12. everybody hates me