I pick Boy Names record bag after another successful gig!
Last weekend Boy Names played a rousing set as part of the Oxjam Festival in Brixton. Afterwards I caught up with them and picked their brains (and record boxes) about their inspirations and current influences. Here’s what they picked!
MUSIC WE LIKE FROM NOW
Outfit “Thank God I Was Dreaming”
We got really into the Outfit album Performance here at Boy Names towers. There is something lovely and English about them. Fantastic songs, great atmospheric pop music. I recently saw them debut some material from their new album and it was really good. They’re moving to occupy the space between Hot Chip and These New Puritans. That is a good thing.
They have been a recent influence, and they remind me that there is interesting pop music to be made. They also showed us that a band playing smaller venues can get a lot of sound and detail in to their sets. We play live with four people, but I would hope it sounds like a lot more.
At some point we would like to play with Outfit. Make it happen internet.
Moonface “Running In Place With Everyone”
This is a track from Spencer Krug’s new Moonface EP which just came out a month ago. I’m not sure I quite understand him. I first heard his EP Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I’d Hoped a little while back and got addicted to the song “Fast Peter” which has really pretty lyrics and really sung to me. This song is more stripped down that, with just piano and voice, but it’s totally huge. I’ve been listening to this EP a lot. It’s all really great but I keep repeating “Running In Place With Everyone”. There is a vague darkness that runs throughout and I love how vast those low notes on the piano become in the chorus.
This is one of the first releases in a while where I’m really concentrating on the lyrics, which are so amazingly sad and funny and weird and gorgeous. Since we started writing for Boy Names I’m becoming increasingly aware of lyrics in songs. It’s something we’re getting better at. I would hope that even in our songs that are more pop-orientated that people will appreciate them.
Dustin O’Halloran “Transparent Theme Song”
I got addicted to the new TV show Transparent and devoured the whole series in one day last week. The theme music is by Dustin O’Halloran and it is utterly perfect. I really liked his album Lumiere a couple of years back, but didn’t realise this was him at first.
I love this because it’s beautiful and it complements the material so well, but it also has that unknowable thing that I love about bittersweet soundtracks that raises the poignancy of the entire show. I get that same feeling from Angelo Badalamenti’s music for The Straight Story and Jack Nitzsche’s score for Starman. With Transparent the theme song becomes more heartbreaking and complex with each episode. It soaks up the emotional weight of the show perfectly.
I need to get in to more of Dustin’s stuff. I think he’s working with the guys from Stars of the Lid now and I’m sure he’s doing amazing things with them.
Dntel “If I Stay A Minute”
Man, I love Dntel so hard. Since a friend turned me on to Life Is Full Of Possibilities around 12 years ago (yeesh) he’s been one of my faves. Dumb Luck was fantastic (anything with Andrew Broder from Fog on it gets my vote) and I really, really liked the After Parties EPs and Aimlessness. His use of texture and melody is awesome.
The new Dntel and the new Caribou album arrived in my letterbox on the same day. I’ve been playing both a lot and they’ve kinda blurred a little in my brain. “If I Stay A Minute” is probably the highlight of both albums. This has got a really intriguing shuffle-funk and an insane digitized recorder-ish instrument weaving throughout it. Then it explodes in to a beautiful, backwards ecstatic mush that only Jimmy Tamborello can conjure up.
Jimmy Tamborello is one of the people we would most want to work with some day. Again, Internet – get on it.
MUSIC THAT INFLUENCES US
Talking Heads “Once In A Lifetime”
Boy Names love Talking Heads. Love, love love. I could have picked dozens of songs to represent this band, but we’ll go with “Once In A Lifetime”, on one hand it’s kinda obvious, but on the other it’s also probably the greatest song ever written. I’ve never met a Talking Heads fan that I didn’t like.
They recorded eight albums that are all wildly different, but all incredibly consistent. Fear of Music is probably my favourite album, but that can change. They’ve been through a broad range of styles but there is something defined that runs throughout everything they do. Whether it’s sugary pop songs or jaw-droppingly weird art-funk it’s all good. And it is seriously funky. And it’s accessible. You can dance or do anything to Talking Heads. They successfully channelled a lot of disparate influences in to something really unique. In our wildest dreams this is where we would love Boy Names to be.
I saw Tom Tom Club last year and could not stop grinning. That might be closest I’ll come to ever seeing Talking Heads live, but that’s okay.
Kate Bush “Cloudbusting”
Everyone knows why Kate Bush is great. We don’t really need to add anything. She’s incredible. She’s created a Kate Bush-shaped hole in the universe and she’s sitting happily in it. She misfires occasionally, but somehow that only makes her more interesting. We like that she puts herself out there. And of course she’s written some of the best songs of all time.
Boy Names is a band where vocals are extremely important and Kate Bush is possibly the most influential voice on us.
Animal Collective “My Girls”
When talking about bands that influence us, Animal Collective loom large, but you probably won’t hear it in our music. I wrestled with this as I wanted to pick a track which exemplified everything I love about them and made a shortlist. It came down to this or “Grass” from Feels, but this won out.
I was obsessed with this band from the minute they released Spirit They’ve Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished. A friend of mine was playing me the album and it felt like it was beamed from another planet. The songs were shrouded in static and weird high frequencies that are almost painful, but these amazing melodies and songs open up out of it. The voices were incredible, Avey Tare’s scream in particular was so potent and worked so well with the wonky melodies, aggressive cymbals and brushed drums. I have listened to this album probably more than any other.
I first saw them in London in the early 2000s and was a little disappointed because I think they had already moved on to the Here Comes The Indian sound by that time and it felt a little rough and loose. If I went back now I would probably have loved it. The next time I saw them they totally blew my mind. I like the way they are so liquid. Everything bubbles and pours through the music.
I always get really excited when there is a new Animal Collective release. I remember when Feels came out, I put it on and didn’t get further than track 2 for about two days because I had to keep listening to it. “Grass” was so strange and perfect. What are the lyrics about? I dunno! It’s incredible and one of my favourite choruses ever (“WAA! WAA! WAA! WAA!”).
I had the same reaction when Merriweather Post Pavilion came out with “My Girls”. It’s totally rapturous. Utterly, utterly perfect. It’s not my favourite Animal Collective album, but that might be because “My Girls” is such a standout song that it kind of warps what I think about the rest of the record.
We want to make songs that have something near this effect on people. We’re really pleased with a lot of the stuff we’re working on now. Hopefully we’ll get close one day.
Lucy Pearl “Dance Tonight”
There is a certain strain of (mostly ‘90s) R&B that we really love and it’s firmly imprinted on our DNA – “Dance Tonight” is one of the most perfect examples of this.
Often when the voices in Boy Names work together the influence of this kind of music comes to the fore. There is so much power and beauty in the way the voices weave together in some R&B. The arrangement of harmonies and the way the beat works in “Dance Tonight” are incredible. There is a subtlety and restraint which is also really interesting. They never go all out with element, but it’s still really powerful. And the strings at the end kill me every time. There’s also an amazing snippet of a college marching band playing this song in a hidden track at the end of the album which is wonderful.
We like to play around on the intersection of Indie and R&B and try to bring our own thing to it. We used to perform a cover of “The Boy Is Mine” in shows and I think it fit really well in to the rest of our set. It’s a kind of music that has subtly infiltrated our sound. As we’re writing more music and hopefully getting better, the line is becoming more blurry. And we’re happy about that.
So there you have it. After reading that I think we all now have a deeper understanding and appreciation of Boy Names music!
Dntel – If I Stay A Minute
Boy Names Playlist