The gratitude and new attitude of Flint's rising pop-R&B duo, BFF

FLINT, Michigan — With music reminiscent of the '90s and early 2000s, catchy dance moves, and a slew of top 40 iTunes singles, the new pop-R&B duo, BFF, has set its sights on dominating the music industry. BFF, an acronym for Brelia and Furillo Forever, consists of R&B songstress Brelia Renee and queer pop artist Furillostar – two Flint artists who have elevated the local scene with flair and have captured the attention of fans worldwide. 

“We both want to speak to everybody but really to our communities. Watching us, seeing us, lets them know they can as well – that it’s possible no matter where you come from. That’s one of the things we strive for the most,” explains Furillo inside Soggy Bottom Bar in downtown Flint.

And without skipping a beat, Brelia backs him up. “We are two black people from Flint, Michigan, who wanted to be pop stars.” And pop stars they have become. 

Their accolades include shoutouts from Missy Elliott, Beyonce, Victoria Monet, Toni Braxton, and Cardi B. Performances from Flint to Detroit to New York to SXSW. And most recently, an award from the 1st annual Fli-City Awards. “Yes, it’s possible,” they scream, reaffirming their undeniable success and passion for inspiring the next generation.

Flintside caught up with the multi-talented duo to talk about the release of their debut single, the move to Atlanta, and how they stay humble.

Flintside: With great success individually, what made you come together to create this group?

Brelia: “We were still finishing up individual things, but we posted a lot of content together. Every time we posted things, it went crazy. People love seeing us together.”

Furillo: “We noticed people see us. It was magnetic – that “it” factor. We possessed it separately, but together, it magnified and drew people in.”

Flintside: Your aesthetic and sound are a love letter to the early pop and R&B era. What is it about these genres that feels natural to BFF?

Brelia: “It’s natural because we grew up loving the late-nineties, early 2000s. Now that we’re old enough, we can be what we saw.”

Furillo: “Some of the best memories I have are from that period of music. I always remember how it made me feel, want to dance, and made me happy. It made sense to go in that direction.”

BFF, an acronym for Brelia and Furillo Forever, consists of Flint natives Brelia Renee and Furillostar pictured in downtown Flint on July 5, 2023. (Anthony Summers | Flintside) Flintside: This leads us to the first single, Baddd. It’s a Top 40 iTunes hit, yet sonically, there’s an “in your face” energy. What fueled this change?

Furillo: “We wanted our introduction to be powerful and in your face. [To say] this is who we are. We’re here to stay. We want people to listen to this record when they’re getting ready, in the car, on their way to work, and when they need that extra motivation.”

Brelia: “Making [Baddd], we realized this is something people can recite almost like an affirmation. We want people to be able to dance and feel confident. We didn’t want to do what we were doing as individual artists. If you thought you knew what we were going to do, you have no idea. We’re coming at you and not putting a ceiling on what we wanna do.”

Flintside: Recently, BFF announced the group is moving to Atlanta. What is the intention behind making such a bold move? 

Brelia: “We’re excited to network in a new market. We’ve done so much and made many connections [in Flint]. We wanna take that and create in a new market.”

Furillo: “We want to go and expand. I do feel there is a ceiling here in our hometown. What we want as artists [is to] be the biggest that we can be. We’re going to Atlanta and putting in that same hustle. And we’ll be there working on our projects.”

Pop duo BFF feeling "Baddd" on the side of Soggy Bottom Bar in downtown Flint on July 5, 2023. (Anthony Summers | Flintside)Flintside: Are you nervous about walking down an unknown path?

Furillo: “For me, I’ve never been so sure of something as I’m sure about BFF and what we’re capable of doing, accomplishing, and becoming. My mom always taught me if you’re not nervous, you’re not doing enough. Without risk, there’s no reward. But there’s also excitement and tenacity. What’s kept us humble this long is because of where we stay. We’re able to have genuine connections with people that don’t feel industry. Because [of] those connections, you can’t shake us.”

Brelia: “We also got each other! I believe in us. I think that we are capable of accomplishing what we want to do. If there’s any nerves, it’s [because] this is my first time relocating. But this is another step into my adulthood, coming into my own, and I’m excited.”

Flintside: The first single is out. You’re moving to ATL, and all eyes are on what comes next. What do you take away from all this?

Brelia: “I feel grateful because we’ve been on this journey for a long time. The times when we didn’t know how we were gonna pay for that video or get things done, we’ve always found a way to make it happen. My biggest takeaway is that we can make something happen without having what you think you need.” 

Furillo: “The first word that came to my mind was gratitude. Being from where I’m from sets the foundation of why we work so hard. Dee Steele came in and helped out tremendously. [She said] the things [we’ve] accomplished with nothing is insane, and she can only imagine what it will be like. I instantly felt gratitude.”

Find Brelia Renee, Furillostar, and BFF on social media, and listen to BFF’s latest single "Baddd" which can be found on all digital streaming services.
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Read more articles by Xzavier Simon.