When he was a kid, Leo Reilly, who now records as LoveLeo, got excited when one of his friends made a “really bad” rap song. He’d recorded it directly into the SoundCloud app, which Reilly wasn’t even aware you could do, then shared it out to all of his friends, at which point it took his school by storm. “It was the worst possible audio quality you could imagine,” Reilly says. “But it was exciting because it was the first song anyone had made in our area. I was like, Alright, if he can do it, I can do it.”
So Reilly bought a cheap mic and trawled YouTube for beats that would fit his still-developing style, which moved from his offbeat takes on indie rock to “Ugly God-style SoundCloud rap.” After experimenting for a few years and decamping to San Francisco to study fashion, Leo finally landed on an upbeat sound that allowed him to find inspiration in music he loved, no matter where or when it came from.
Later, back at his parents’ house at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains, he put together his breakout single “BOYFREN” in his childhood bedroom while his mom and dad were making chicken parm for dinner. Though it’s about the inner turmoil of unrequited love and jealousy, it’s also undeniably catchy and more than a little laconic—a quirky slacker anthem with a video that features Reilly’s face projected onto an egg, some juggling of the aforementioned eggs (minus the face), and a copious amount of whistling. “The original version of ‘BOYFREN’ had three minutes straight of whistling. I would really get into it. I was basically doing an electric guitar solo,” he says.
After its release at the end of 2019, “BOYFREN” went viral and paved the way for second single “ROSIE,” which acts as a sort of sequel to “BOYFREN”. “I recorded ‘ROSIE’ in the same place as ‘BOYFRIEN’” he says. Reilly’s penchant for melding familiar phrases to singsong melodies that never leave your brain is what made “BOYFREN” such a hit, and “ROSIE” follows suit. Over a muted guitar and a subtle undercurrent of digital funk, Reilly sets his sights on the psychological warfare of dating apps, and how that manifests in real world relationships.