Though Bonzie just turned 18, the singer-songwriter has already established herself as a force to reckon with on the local scene.
Earlier this year she landed a coveted slot opening for Iron & Wine, and she has spent recent weeks embroiled in recording sessions alongside members of Tortoise at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio.
While it might appear success has come quickly to Bonzie, who will celebrate the release of her full-length debut "Rift Into the Secret of Things" with a concert Aug. 15 at Schubas, she's actually been performing in and around the city since she was 12 years old, landing gigs everywhere from Beat Kitchen to the Taste of Chicago.
By phone from her home in the north suburbs, the fast-rising singer discussed her decision to adopt a stage name, the power of dreams and whether or not she can be trusted with a secret.
I read that early on you used to tell people you were doing covers when you were actually performing original material.
Yeah. I did that for a while. I started writing when I was 10, and I wasn't sure what people would think of it--especially my family. My mom always used to tell me that music is a hobby, not a job. Nobody in my family was really an advocate for [music] ... so I didn't know that what I was doing was OK or made sense. I would tell people they weren't my songs so I didn't have to have my identity connected with whatever I was playing.
Does that explain why you chose to adopt the stage name Bonzie?
Yeah. Bonzie is a word I've had with me for a long time. I performed for several years under my own name, but I didn't like the feeling of it. There was something about it that felt egotistical to me, and music was never that sort of pursuit. Bonzie feels a lot better to go under, not only because it's a pseudonym but also because it doesn't subscribe to a language. There isn't a conventional definition of Bonzie, and it's more something where I can become its meaning.
How would you define the word at this point in your career?
It's basically a combination of syllables and sounds that looks and sounds interesting. It's more like an abstract idea.
You titled your debut "Rift Into the Secret of Things." Are you good at keeping a secret?
I think so [laughs]. If somebody tells me something in private, I usually keep it to myself.
You adopted the title from a passage in Henry David Thoreau's "Walden." How do you think you'd handle living in seclusion?
I think I would really like it. I've always sort of been drawn to being on my own. I write in seclusion, and I make songs when I'm alone. It's an interesting concept to put yourself in his shoes.
On the song "Data Blockers" you sing about "dreams on rotation." Have you had any recurring dreams lately?
Not lately, which is kind of different for me. I usually have recurring dreams that last for a month or so. Maybe since I'm so busy with the album release right now I haven't had any time for reoccurring dreams [laughs].
What's the most vivid recurring dream you can recall having?
They're usually very abstract, and it's usually not something I can verbalize. But I had one recurring dream where there were these different colored instruments and you couldn't see any detail. Everything was just a shape and a full block of color. Maybe I was trying to tell myself something? Maybe sometimes I pay too much attention to detail.