Erez Potok-Holmes has been reborn.
Like many, the Philadelphia native has struggled with the concept of being his truest self out of fear of judgment and rejection. And while it’s common to combat these fears by assimilating or adapting, Potok-Holmes figured out a way to regain and maintain authenticity: He became Sally Boy.
The moniker isn’t just an alter ego or an alias he uses he uses to put out his emotive, pop-leaning music via RCA Records. It is him, in his truest form. The name came about just before the rising artist, who recently moved to Los Angeles, released his debut single of the same name in 2020.
“Sally Boy is really me embodying this idea of being more feminine or ‘weird,’” he explains to me. It allows him to be who he “would have been” had he not “pretended” to be someone else in high school. “It came after what feels like a lifetime of being uncomfortable with the things that made me who I am, the things I was made fun of for. ‘Sally Boy’ was the sort of push and pull I needed to get me to be comfortable enough to stick with who I really am.”
Influenced by legends, like John Mayer, Jimi Hendrix, and Ray Charles, Erez makes feel-good music, blending R&B, soul, and rock.
“My goal as an artist is just to make people feel happy.”
“I’m always trying to be new and creating something interesting,” he says. “I spend a lot of time filling out every aspect of my song. My goal as an artist is just to make people feel happy. That is the energy I would love for people to feel. I want my music to strike a chord within people. I want it to push them to do something positive for themselves. I want people to say, ‘That’s an iconic piece of work.’” While Sally Boy admits he wants recognition, he isn’t too pressed to be famous.
“I think for a long time,” he starts, “I really wanted fame. And I still do–to a degree. I want aspects of it. I want to be recognized for my work because I’m competitive. But, I’m not sure I always want what comes with fame. It can be bizarre. It’s a completely different human experience.”
We caught up with Sally Boy at Los Angeles State Historic Park for a little fun in the sun. Check it out below:
Growing up in Philly also shaped Sally Boy’s path, for better and worse. Clashes with toxic masculinity informed him of who he didn’t want to be. And the city’s knack for producing some of the most renowned musicians ever also cultivated his passion for becoming one. “I have always been around music,” he recalls. “I started playing piano when I was three. I would also perform in elementary school. I was in the theatre. I’d sing at home when we had guests over.”
He attended Lower Merion High School (the same school Los Angeles Laker legend Kobe Bryant hooped at before jumping to the professional ranks). There, Sally Boy started a band and went on to play in different shows almost “every week” of his junior and senior years.
“I was able to witness and be a part of Philly’s underground scene,” he says. “ I met people who were much more out there to me than I saw in high school — from their fashion to their general behavior. That helped me a lot.”
Now based in the City of Angels, Sally Boy is ready to be himself. The downtime 2020 provided him, off the road and in quarantine like the rest of us, an opportunity to focus on his craft. “I’ve gotten much better at production because of the fact that I have so much time to myself. I would just sit in my room and produce things and I’d just get better at it.” On October 29, he’ll release his new EP, LIES I TELL MYSELF.
When he’s not focused on his own work, Sally Boy is busy being a loving pet parent to his “handsome” cat and supporting other artists from his community. He’s literally a few thousand miles away from his hometown, but figuratively lightyears from the person he was in Philly. He’s confident now, pursuing his goals and living his dreams. Thinking back, Sally Boy ponders what he would tell his younger self, knowing where he is today at 22.
“Stop screaming,” he responds. “I’d tell my younger self to stop screaming and be careful with your voice. I’d also tell him to be patient and that things are going to turn out alright.”
Story written by Robyn Merrett