buoy is the one-woman band making electronic rainbows

Speaking to the musician-with-the-big-set-up ahead of an east coast tour for her new EP 'Break'.

by Kasumi Borczyk
17 August 2016, 5:30am

Charmian Kingston is the Sydney-based musician known as BUOY who, since debuting her hauntingly beautiful track Clouds and Rain earlier this year, has been steadily taking the electronic music world by storm. Classically trained as a jazz pianist, BUOY's level of technicality and eye for detail are apparent in her live performances, which fuse piano, synths and percussion with her hauntingly beautiful vocals.

With the highly anticipated release of her latest EP Break, BUOY is leading the pack in innovative and boundary-pushing electronic music that is as technically rich as it is emotionally charged.

We spoke to Charmain about making music and staying real.

i-D: Can you talk us through how it all began.BUOY: Well my family is very musical so I was always around it growing up and it was normal to sing all the time. I wanted to make electronic music because I've just always loved electronic sounds. When I moved to Sydney I started seeing other bands and thinking that was what I wanted to do, so I began the BUOY project a few years ago.

You seem to infuse your electronic music with lots of different influences.
Yeah I went to uni and studied piano. Then I moved to Sydney and I was still very much into jazz but I knew that I didn't want to do it anymore so I decided to do electronic music because my brother is quite good at technical stuff. That and also my partner at the time was really into it so he helped me get started with making electronic music.

What makes this EP different to your last one?
Well the last one was a lot slower and 'free-beatsy'. I hadn't bared much of my soul yet. I feel like with this one I've bared a lot more, it's a lot more heart-breaking. This one is also faster and a bit more percussive. I'd say that these songs are more 'songy.' My first EP was more fragmented vocals rather than complete songs.

Can you tell me a little bit about your creative process when making music.
I mainly find a sound that I like in my music program and then I make some chords and a beat. Sometimes I'll listen to other artists that I love before getting started just to get into the zone.

So who are some other musicians that you look to for inspo?
Björk is a big one. I also like James Blake, Mark Pritchard, Kelela and at the moment I'm getting into the Internet!

You've recently entered the festival circuit with shows at festivals like Splendour in the Grass. What has that experience been like?
It's crazy. It's also a little bit scary because you only have so much time to get ready and I have a crazy set-up at the moment because it's just me performing, so I have wires everywhere! Playing at Splendour was amazing. Once I got past the setting-up part and actually played it was really cool.

It seems like quite a stressful industry to work in.
I have had some really good experiences where I'm treated just the same as everybody else but there have been some others where I'm spoken to as if I don't know anything. I know I can come across a certain way based on how I look or speak but I don't think that gives people warrant to speak to me differently because I'm small (laughs). All this conversation about not many girls getting onto festival line-ups is crazy but just speaking about it is really good and is helping to make a change.

Any advice for aspiring musicians?
Well, I would say to just not give up. If somebody puts you down, don't listen to them. If they're projecting their idea of you onto you then that's not you either. Don't listen and don't give up! 


Get BUOY's Break EP here.


Text Kasumi Borczyk
Images via