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Slow and Steady | The Songwriting Secrets of BOY

The following interview with BOY took place during SXSW in 2013. I was on assignment for the magazine (with Janelle Sorenson) but due to editorial constraints, the lion’s share of the material we captured (many great bands) was not used in the final article.  

At that time, Steiner and Glass had already begun writing the songs that would appear on We Are Here and discussed the process in detail. We also had the opportunity to hear “Into the Wild” live at Peckerheads on 6th Street as part of the Baeble Music Showcase and fell in love with the song.

Slow and Steady | The Songwriting Secrets of BOY

Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass of the Hamburg-based duo BOY first met in 2007 at a musical workshop where the two hit it off professionally. They soon began writing together and their debut album Mutual Friends with its international hit “Little Numbers” arrived four years later.

“Since nobody was waiting for the [first] album, we took as much time as we needed to find out how we want to write, or how it works to write,” says Glass. “We had enough time to form a vision in our heads about what we would do musically so it was two and a half years of writing, playing live, and going to the studio to record.”

Doing What Works

With the second album, We Were Here, set to drop in September of 2015, it is clear that the two sought to repeat the winning formula.

“When we write, it is like a back and forth,” Steiner says. “Sonja does instrumentals at her home studio and sends them to me. I record a melody with lyrics that fit and then I send it back. So it goes back and forth via email for quite a long time until we really put a song together and then we go to the studio and record it properly.”

Writing music takes time, and in some cases the right space to really bring out the creativity.

“I need to have a very quiet place, actually,” Glass says. “No music, nothing at all, to start a new idea.”

BOY_Sonja_Glass

When asked about what inspires them, the two cast a wide net.

“For me, for the lyrics, I think it’s very much taken from my life or the things I observe with my friends, or just people around me,” says Steiner. “It can also be books or movies or artists that I like. I think inspiration can be everywhere, so you just have to catch it.”

“I’m inspired by my whole life and by the music I listen to, and the sounds I like,” agrees Glass.

What’s Next

The new album, We Were Here will be available to American audiences September 18, over two years in the making – a point not lost on the band.

“We started writing new songs in January or February [2013],” says Glass. “We are very slow writers, really slow. It’s too early to tell what it’s about or where it’s going to be.”

About the Author

Melany Joy Beck is a writer, musician, and award-winning independent filmmaker. Her Kickstarter project, Bring It 2 Peter (co-produced with Janelle Sorenson) was selected Special Jury Prize at the Nevada Film Festival 2011, Best Documentary at the Central Wisconsin Film Festival 2011, and Official Selection at the Minneapolis Underground Film Festival 2012.

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Devil Music

I have a terrible song stuck in my head.

Something about a devil inside. This guy moans really breathy and he’s talking about this “devil inside, devil inside,” over and over again and it’s freaking me out because I really believe in the devil. And if there is a devil and it has to be inside someone, there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to choose me.

I’m the perfect devil host even though I have been trying my whole entire life to not be the devil. I even used to read the Bible every night before I went to bed and said this really long prayer where I blessed every single person I had ever known because if I didn’t, they would probably meet some horrible carnival-ride decapitation death.

I wonder when I stopped doing that.

When do little kids stop saying their prayers? I can’t picture an adult saying ‘Now I lay me down to sleep,’ but there isn’t any kind of alternative adultish prayer that is widely publicized. Maybe more people would pray if they didn’t feel silly saying a nursery rhyme about it.

Devil inside.

It’s back. Like hiccups. I try holding my breath.

My mom had this article one time about rock music being the work of Satan. Or maybe it was at church, I forget. It seemed true, though, when they were talking about all these different lyrics and old vinyl record albums that could be spun backwards on a turntable to play hidden messages to teens that would make them want to worship evil or do other bad things. Skin cats. I don’t know.

Devil inside.

I assess my music collection. There’s probably some devil stuff in there. I can’t have that kind of bad juju in my life.

I decide to take the obvious next step and destroy every CD, every album, and every cassette tape that I own beginning with the genre of Metal, since it is the most egregious offender.

boombox

I slip on my high-heeled boots and place a handful of media into a paper grocery bag.

My mom washes the supper dishes. My sister plays quietly with her My Little Ponies. I disappear out the side door with a bag of classic satanic loot; Guns ‘N Roses, Mötley Crüe, Cradle of Filth.

I lug the sack over to the side of the house, out of the glare of prying eyes, and set it down. A gust of wind blows through the tree branches above my head sending a flurry of wet maple leaves toward me. Some of them stick to my face.

I lift my foot and step onto the bag. It lets out a little crunch underneath my heel, which infuses me with a new burst of confidence.

I do it again, harder.

The snapping of plastic jewel cases echoes through the naked trees. I am doing God’s work. I can feel it. So I stomp those suckers into a mosaic of plastic bits.

I jump up and down, panting, and wheezing with great physical effort and little restraint.

When there is nothing but dust and shards, I gather up the torn bag and its contents and hurl it off the side of the hill where the septic system drains.

I climb the porch steps, back to the house where a bowl of corn flakes and a Saved by the Bell re-run waits for me. These are good things. Wholesome things.

Tiffany Amber Thiessen has noticeably larger breasts in season three than she had in season two.

Devil inside.