Why is Warren Hue “Boy of the Year”?

There are so many accolades out there that artists aspire to earn like “Artist of the Year,” “Song of the Year,” and “Album of the Year,” but a new one cropped up in 2020 that could spark anyone’s curiosity: “Boy of the Year.” Indonesian-born artist Warren Hue introduced the phrase as the title of his debut album in 2020 and his first ever tour, kicking off in October 2022. APA chatted with Warren about what the title means, and why it’s him.

To Warren, being Boy of the Year is about experimenting with new things, and not letting himself stay stagnant in his comfort zone. “I feel like I’m always trying to find new sounds. I don’t particularly, you know, feel like I’m separated from other artists,” he said. “I’m just really in the zone where I’m making what I enjoy the most, listening to sounds I would like to hear in a song.” While that explains what the title means, the use of the word “boy” in his album title can be explained when looking back at Warren’s journey. “I think ‘boy’ mainly explains the transition that I had moving from Jakarta to LA. ‘Boy’ was just the most fitting because I’m still quite young, I would say, and early in this music career, so I feel like I’m still a child sometimes. And that’s how I treated the project in some ways, so it has a very childish and fun energy, and I just tied it all in together.” Already having a variety of genres and mixes within his discography, Warren is still eager to try more. “[Recently] I’m experimenting with a lot of even, prettier sounds. That’s what’s happening more, and I want to just make more R&B leaning songs. I haven’t really had that in a full body of work yet, so that’s what I’d definitely like to tap into. A futuristic take on R&B or trying to genre-bend R&B with rap as well, that’s what I want to try to do for sure.”

Growing up in Jakarta, Warren took a lot of musical influences from both his hometown and here in the U.S. Previously citing Tyler The Creator, Frank Ocean, and Kanye West as some of his biggest inspirations, he also credits his family and a few artists in Jakarta. “My parents are definitely heavy on music. They’ve always been into rock music, so I’ve just been surrounded by music growing up my whole life. And I’ll definitely say this one artist, BAPAK / BAP. / Yosugi, was a big influence in my early music career. They’re an underground SoundCloud artist who’s based in Jakarta.”

Alongside label mates and fellow Indonesians Rich Brian and NIKI, Warren is on the lineup for this year’s upcoming Head in the Clouds festivals in Jakarta and Manila, and for Warren, performing at the Jakarta event is a big deal. “It definitely feels like a mix of everything honestly. I’m definitely nervous, but also excited,” he said. “Back in 2020, I literally bought tickets to the Head in the Clouds festival that got canceled [due to COVID-19] in Jakarta, and I was a huge fan of 88rising. So it’s a crazy full circle moment for me to be able to perform this time around. I’ve also never performed in such a big crowd in Asian countries, so it’s gonna be an exciting experience for me.” Now no stranger to festival stages, Warren has had a busy 2022, performing his second Head in the Clouds in August of this year, and even participating in 88rising’s “Head in the Clouds Forever” on the main stage of Coachella this past spring. Starting off by uploading music on SoundCloud and YouTube as “warrenisyellow,” he’s come a long way, and yet, he still remains humble and focused. “With warrenisyellow, I definitely just thought of putting out music that I like hearing in what I make, to see if people really liked it or not. I’ve definitely widened my perspective ever since I moved to LA, and 88rising has taken me under their wing. It’s allowed me to express myself with my music and be more honest with everything. I think that’s the mindset right now, to just do the best I can.”

Standing beside him on his journey is his friend and producer, Chasu, whom Warren actually met through a mutual friend sometime between 2017 and 2018. “Someone from my high school went to this convention that was held in Korea, and she somehow met a producer named Chasu there, linked us both on Instagram, and we just started making music ever since then.” Even before signing with 88rising, Warren was constantly working on music together with Chasu, even releasing an album, Sugartown, together in 2019. “It’s kind of crazy for him to be in LA working on music with me. I feel like we’re both evolving our sound as we go on, and we both almost have the same passion and vision when it comes to music and our interests, so it’s a very cool balance.” While many say to keep work and personal life separate, working together is part of what brings Warren and Chasu closer. When working together, the two are constantly inspiring each other and keeping things casual. “It’s definitely more bouncing ideas off one another. Every time we go to the studio or visit his house, we’re just making music and hanging out,” he said. “It wouldn’t be like a ‘Yo, let’s make music.’ It would just be a chill situation and he would just put a beat up and I would just rap over it. That’s how it always is, and that’s how [our] music comes to life.”

Warren also worked with other artists such as yvngxchris and Tobi Lou on his latest album. “The songs were already made, and then we eventually sent them out [thinking] that they were the perfect artists for them.” For “In My Bag,” Warren shared how Tobi Lou got involved: “The song was already made like a year before Tobi was on it. We sent it over to him, and he doesn’t really do features usually, but once he heard the song, he was like ‘This is really a perfect summer song.’” When asked who he would dream of collaborating with one day, the answer came quick and easy for the rapper: “Frank Ocean. I think he’s one of my favorite artists, so working with Frank would be like a crazy milestone kind of dream for me.”

Aside from music, the young star is simply interested in all forms of art. Before making the life-changing decision to sign with 88rising, Warren was just an 18-year-old getting ready to move to New York for college. “I was trying to major in Mixed Media Arts, or Contemporary Arts, actually. I was a big visual arts fan, like that would be one of my favorite subjects. And even film, so [I thought I would] go to New York to do like every medium of art.” Although his original hope then had been to continue schooling in New York, he never had any plans to stop pursuing music. “That was already the whole mission since being in Jakarta, just having my music expand to American places, so I would definitely have continued making music.” And now that his music career is taking off, Warren is completely prepared to go all in with other ideas for the future. “Honestly, I’m definitely ready to pursue music 100%, but there are definitely thoughts of trying to go back to college just for the experience, or just to get a degree and make my mom happy.” The desire to go back to school, however, is a thought for Warren further down the line.

Having modeled for the AMBUSH x 88rising collaboration line earlier this year, Warren shared that he’s also been very interested in fashion since a young age. “My parents were very big into fashion. My dad actually works in the garment industry, so since I was young, I would always be surrounded by fashion, too,” he said. “My mom is like my number one fashion idol, and I like her pieces, and we share sometimes. It’s kind of cool, the way we have a crazy bond over fashion.” While his focus is on music, he believes fashion and music are connected. “I don’t know, I feel like fashion and music really coincide with each other really well. It’s like another form of expression, and [fashion] is my second favorite besides music. I just really want to understand the world of fashion and potentially start up my own brand in the future. That’d be a great thing to do in 2023.” Starting his own brand may not be in the near future, but working with various other brands is also on Warren’s wishlist. “I honestly really like AMBUSH’s jewelry, and I’ve definitely spoken to a lot of people about AMBUSH and how much I like their accessories. I like a lot of Japanese brands in general. Yohji Yamamoto is amazing, and another amazing brand is Sundae School. There are a lot of brands that I would love to work with.” Wanting to stay involved in fashion as much as he can, Warren also often finds himself choosing his own stage outfits for his performances. “I would sometimes work with stylists, and sometimes I would bring my own pieces and we would just work together. I’m definitely leaning more towards dressing up myself right now, and I like not using stylists that often. Just, you know, letting loose and being free with my style.” Even for his upcoming shows, Warren hopes to style himself as much as he can, bringing comfort directly on stage with him. “It’s gonna be a lot of traveling, so I kinda just wanna chill out.”

With such a momentous year, having his first tour was just the icing on the cake. “I feel like Boy of the Year is the first album I’m very proud of. I’m really into personal shows in general, and I’ve done a couple over the years, but, I don’t know, just touring this album is very special to me. The sounds Chasu created for this album were also very much directed towards shows, so it’s nice to express that limit.” Although this tour is of the same name as the album, fans can expect much more if attending one of his tour stops, including songs from the past few years and even some unreleased tracks. His favorite song and the one he’s most looking forward to performing is “Boy of the Year.” He shared, “It’s a very sad song, but I think it’s definitely the longest time I’ve ever worked on a song, so it’s very personal to me, and performing that would be insane. Honestly just seeing the fans in a more personal space.. I’ve never really seen them [like that]. With festivals, it’s more like an array of fans, and on this tour, it’ll just be like people who really support my music.”

Rounding out his year with his first tour and performing at Head in the Clouds Jakarta and Head in the Clouds Manila is not enough for the ambitious young artist, as he may have one more surprise coming for fans before 2023 arrives. “I might, maybe, potentially release a song. It’s definitely not confirmed, but I’m definitely working on something new. I’m working on a new sound, so I’m expecting something to drop before the end of the year that’s going to show people what I have now.” Getting a glimpse into what his music style will turn towards in future releases, Warren recommends “RUNAWAY W ME” as the perfect song to introduce anyone to exactly who Warren Hue is. “That’s a well-rounded song that everyone should listen to. It kind of captures everything that I like – my interests, and what I’m really going for in my music.”

Warren Hue’s North American tour starts on October 20th in Los Angeles, and will work its way west to New York before looping back around to finish up in San Francisco on October 28th.

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