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Kai Bosch lead press shot med c Sam Taylor Edwards

Kai Bosch mulls over putting the kibosh on a fading relationship in love-lorn single “Tulips”

11 January 2024, 10:00 | Written by Adam Goldsmith

Drawing on Berlin’s heady night-time scene as inspiration for instrumentally-driven introspection, Kai Bosch examines the sensation of feeling a relationship falling apart in slow-motion on “Tulips”

Google the definition of the noun kibosh, and you’ll find something like this: “to spoil or destroy an idea or plan.” Londoner Kai Bosch therefore adopts a fitting homophone for his artistry, his music so often addressing the unspooling of relationships; and love’s great plans. Coming out as gay at 14, Bosch embraced his vulnerabilities in favour of rejecting them. It is in these grapples with his identity that forms the basis of his brand of vibrant alt-pop. On “Spider”, one of his most popular singles to date, the ethereal multi-instrumentalist imagines his love as the aforementioned creature, stepped on as if something to be feared and repulsed by.

Not one to lighten the mood simply for the sake of it, on “Tulips” we find the Cornish-born singer attempting to grasp hold of a relationship that has already found itself smashed against the rocks. With little left to latch onto but the recollections of a love now lost, Bosch imagines the memories of his former flame as a tangible object, its imprint crushed between the covers of a book forever. “The song was inspired by the idea of flower pressings and how you can preserve the colour and beauty of something that is still dead nonetheless - and how I wish I could do that to the relationship I had with my ex,” he explains.

Bosch continues, "'Tulips' is about the realisation that you have nothing left to give to a relationship, it’s a bittersweet feeling of optimism and hope for the future while also feeling a pang of regret that things aren’t the way they once were. I wrote it towards the end of a stint living with my ex boyfriend and realising that giving my love to him wasn’t worth my time anymore as I wasn't getting anything in return."

With producer Charlie Andrew’s Alt-J experiences riding through its rhythms, the soundscape of “Tulips” swirls as Bosch replays the relationship breakdown himself. Attempting to “fabricate a feeling that’s no longer there,” the track even literally skips and stutters electronically before restarting midway through. Although now residing in London, Bosch’s artistic identity was forged when he found himself drawn to the thrum of Berlin’s vibrant nightlife. The inevitable influence of the German capital vibrates through his catalogue, contrasting sharply with the often maudlin topics tackled by the twenty-something’s lyricism.

Indeed, there’s a little of Irish breakout Biig Piig in the way that Bosch often matches weary vocals referencing nights out with catchy, but understated electronic beats. It's also hard to un-hear the inspiration Bosch took as an adolescent from Lorde and Lana Del Rey records which similarly spun silk from tales of blown-out exuberance. In “Be Right Back” — one such track — he describes a hazy night out, powered by the riptides of friendship and the feeling of invincibility that comes from a young urban-rich lifestyle. “This city will be the death of me and I’m fine with that,” he riffs.

On “Tulips” though, Bosch exposes a more mature, vulnerable figure. While retaining his signature bouncy and gossamer qualities, this subtle evolution to the artist’s sound will kibosh any doubts about his potential to keep audiences swaying in dimly-lit venues.

"Tulips" is out now. Find Kai Bosch on Instagram.

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