Unlike many other genres and music communities, the indie/alt culture appreciates new and rising artists that create diversity and new insights within the genre.
We constantly feature notable indie and alternative artists on the verge of success. Meet this week’s featured artist in an exclusive interview, the West London based group BOYS:
We recently talked in-depth with guitarist Mike Stothard to find out more about the group's influences, creative process, and of course their take on all things alternative culture. Read on to find out more about how these guys create such a dynamic sound.
Though not inherent influences on the band, I’d also highlight Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion, and Beach House – Teen Dream amongst my favourite albums. These albums are so immersed in their bands aesthetic identity that they can really take me back to ‘that’ time and place. It’s often hard to recall a certain time in your life emotionally, but these albums have that effect. A great album should be able to do that.
What are your fondest musical memories?
Our favourite gig was in Bournemouth last year, which is currently the only gig we’ve played outside of London. We played with Oscar and Fake Laugh, who we are big fans of. The night ended dancing to cheesy indie disco tunes and a skinny dip in the sea!
My favourite band I’ve seen was Arcade Fire at Reading Festival in 2010. We managed to get to the front area, and due to the way the crowd was controlled by the middle barrier, we had loads of space to try and go as nuts as Will Butler on stage. It was incredible.
Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener?
I’ve been enjoying a lot of garage rock that’s characterized by great rhythm and weird noises. Ty Segall, The Kills and Thee Oh Sees are all masters of enabling the listener to enjoy gritty noises. I don’t think that’s easy to achieve.
Since it’s the summer, I’ve also been enjoying a lot of music that’s doing the rounds at festivals, like Todd Terje, Jamie XX and Hot Chip.
How did you all decide to collaborate into forming BOYS? What were your musical backgrounds before coming together? Is there a story behind the name?
Whilst at Reading Festival a few years ago, myself and Ross (singer) bought a guitar and stayed up late playing songs with friends every night. You could say that the band originated from there! We mainly played covers of Girls songs at the time, which is where the name comes from. We didn’t give the name much thought, which does seem quite lazy. However, it’s grown on us over time and formed its own identity. It’s still a bitch for people to find online though ha.
We later got Heffy on board to play synth, though he has since moved to bass and later Kane was added to play guitar.
I’ve been in loads of bands over the years, whilst for the rest of the band this is their first music project. We’ve been able to come from quite a fresh and enthusiastic place because some of the others haven’t been exposed to some of the technicalities that can sometimes box or pigeonhole musicians. There’s also an innocence there that can be lost with experience. I think this is a great aspect of the band.
What is your creative process like? How do you approach the writing process?
Songs tend to focus around what we are getting up to in our life and girls are often a subject that comes up. The mood of the song tends to go from there, and we’ll all jam something out until we are happy with it!
I’m a firm believer that the cities that artists are based in helps craft their sound. How would you describe the London music scene? How has the area inspired your sound? What do you think the UK has that inspires so much great music in the indie scene?
London has a fairly concentrated music scene. A lot of the good bands play together, form friendships and influence each other. There’s also obviously a lot of competition which can drive up the quality of music.
It’s also becoming increasingly hard for young people to be able to afford to live in London. Not that it affects everyone, but it’s noticeable. As such, I feel like there’s an escapist kind of vibe that some bands are latching onto. This might not even be new, but it’s certainly a large element of our musical vision.
I don’t think the UK does have a particularly great indie scene on the whole, though there are pockets of great music in London. We mainly take our influences from the US as there seems to a lot more genuine music coming from across the shore. That may be ironic, since our music could be considered to be derivative. Though it’s written from a pure place and a lot of dream pop can take on the form of a fantasy which can transform it into something brand new.
It’s something we have been inspired by for a long time, as the imagery, music and general vibe is like a form of escapism for us. It’s a distraction from reality and a way for us to connect with the things we dream about. It’s not something that we made a conscious decision about; it just kind of fell into place with the music that we’ve been making for the last few years.
We have, however, made a conscious decision to add things to the live show that make it a little more interesting. It’s something that is better witnessed, but Ross’s on stage persona is curious in a good way. We also like to add a floral tinge to the live setup.
As an indie artist in the digital age, social media and streaming are essential tools for marketing and promotion. What do you think about online music sharing, both as a music fan and as a musician? How do you think social media/music streaming services impacts the rising musician?
Using social media, we’ve been able to tie down a visual identity pretty quickly. I’m assuming that before, this wouldn’t have been the case until a band released an album, music video, or perhaps just a professional photo-shoot. Fans understand where we are coming from as soon as they visit our Facebook page / SoundCloud, which is important these days as no one has time to let a bands persona grow on them.
On the down side, it does feel like it’s harder to transition from a hobby to a full-time band, due to the lower valuation people place on music. It has to be embraced for what it is, and we are happy to share our music online for free if it means it can potentially reach a large audience.
Essentially, we make music for fun and social media has enabled us to share our passion. If we’d existed 20 years ago, this simply wouldn’t have been possible for an indie band like us.
What is your dream collaboration and why?
Chris Owens, Zachary Cole Smith and Jonny Pierce can come and hang with us in our bedroom and write some songs. That’d be cool.
What are you currently working on? Any new projects?
We’re always plugging away at making new music. We’re at the peak of our powers during the summer months so we’re trying to be as productive as possible!
There’s also been talk of making a DIY video for one of our songs. We’ll see if that materialises.
Finally, a couple questions we ask all of our artists: which songs are you currently obsessed with? What new acts do you recommend to our listeners? What bands do you believe are your best kept secret in the indie community?
The good indie music that is coming out of London is great. Bands like Zooz, Hunck, Fake Laugh, Oscar and Husband Material are creating a new scene for themselves. We’ve been lucky enough to play with these bands before and we’re excited to see which one of them will be first to make it.
We’ve been listening to a lot of Fat White Family recently who are another great London band that seems to be coming from a totally new angle. We’ve also been enjoying Mac Demarco’s new one and some of the live demos that are due to appear on DIIV’s new album.
Thanks once again to BOYS for talking with us. You can stay up to date with them via the social links. For now, you can listen to another stellar example of the BOYS sonic aesthetic, in the very refreshingly stimulating Off To New York City: