Hey Boy Tox! How's the music world been for you thus far?
I think it’s a very exciting time to be making music. For the longest time I was stuck listening to older music and didn’t see the merits of what contemporary musicians were doing, but shortly after I discovered Animal Collective modern music started making a lot more sense. I think it’s easy to feel like “wow everything’s already been done” but the fact is many of my favorite musicians from many different genres and traditions have been able to surprise me again and again with something exciting that I’ve never heard before. My goal is to do that for people. The world of music has meant a lot of hard work and definitely felt like a pipe dream to me at points, but I’m finally getting to a place where I’m surprising even myself with some of my tracks and realizing that I’ve got something unique going for me.
We listened to your latest single "Falling Into You" and it has an incredible raw and authentic element to the entire track. Tell us how the creation and overall production went for this track!
This was a track that I really surprised myself with. These last few years I’ve fallen in love with indie pop music, especially when it has an experimental edge to it (bands and artists like Animal Collective, Xiu Xiu, Jai Paul, Ariel Pink). I knew my goal was to write music like that, and have been listening nonstop to a playlist I created full of interesting experimental pop songs to go to for inspiration (the playlist is the “Boy Tox Influences” playlist on my Spotify for anyone interested). I have also been working hard on becoming proficient at the guitar, and recently acquired a Teenage Engineering OP-1, both of which have drastically improved and expanded my capabilities as a songwriter. I came up with chord progression first for “Falling into You”. I’ve been struggling to get the energetic and upbeat sound I want on the guitar, but nailed it on this track. I was then ecstatic when it worked well with electronic drums.
Many of my favorite songs combine acoustic and electronic drums, so it has been a goal of mine recently to include electronic drums when possible. From there I just started putting together pieces, and eventually wrote the lyrics once I had developed the instrumental. Lyrics are always the hardest part for me, but I’m incredibly proud of the lyrics on that song, something just clicked while I was writing it. Like all my songs under the name “Boy Tox,” all parts of the song are written, played/sung, recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered by me alone. The lion share of the work for that song happened in a single day, locked in my room!
What do you think personally sets your music apart from other indie/contemporary pieces out there?
I think I toe the line with respect to genre a bit more than many of the contemporary indie artists I’ve heard out there. I think it’s always exciting when styles get blended to create something new, and try to do that for my listeners. I like to think of myself as following the direction a song is bringing me in, rather than trying to force it somewhere else, and that’s why you get so many of the different moods and styles in a given set of my songs. This is especially true on my album “I Guess I Needed Some Time Alone,” which is a bit all over the place. I also think my music is very honest, and that this is brought out by the rawness and the occasional imperfections. Like I said, I did all the writing, playing, recording, production etc on this track, and I definitely know I can’t do all of those things flawlessly yet. But a lot of the time, those imperfections will make a track for me (like I said, I like surprises). I’m a huge fan of outsider artists such as Daniel Johnston and lofi/bedroom pop artists like Youth Lagoon and Katie Dey, and this is in big part due to the honesty that I hear in their music. I think honesty speaks to people, and I can only hope that my listeners can hear the honesty in my music.
How would you describe your goal for Boy Tox and the future of the project? Are there any big plans for the future of Boy Tox?
I love playing in bands, but as a college student it can be hard to be in a lasting project given the fleeting nature of it all. I started Boy Tox so I had an outlet to make music in addition to any other temporary projects I might be working on at a given time. My goal for a while has been to be able to compose and play interesting music on my own, since I figured it would make working with others easier if I understood the work that went into the other steps of the process. A drummer who also plays guitar will know better how to work with a guitarist than one who doesn’t is kind of the idea. I feel like through Boy Tox, I’ve been able to meet these goals of composing interesting music on my own. I’m going to keep working hard on this project, regardless of what other projects I have going on, because I love doing it! I’d like to have a new album out by next summer at the latest, and am planning on booking a small west coast tour and a small east coast tour for next summer over the course of this next year.
Additionally, I’ll be supporting friends, such as the very talented Alan Yang (of Lounge Act Jam and 反覆墜落 Repeatedive) at shows in Portland, Oregon next year while I finish school, and plan on starting a side project or two as well. Definitely a lot to come within this next year, I’m especially excited to work with my friends. Working alone is great but it can get lonely!
Where would you say is your favorite place to perform? What's the energy like in your crowds?! Any upcoming shows?
I always have loved DIY shows and venues, in basements or random warehouses or on college campuses. A few years back I planned and played some events like that when I was playing with Tomato Soup and the Basil Boys, and it was a lot of fun. I’m hoping to plan some events like that in Portland next year. I haven’t done many shows as Boy Tox yet, and it posed an interesting challenge when I did, seeing as I couldn’t play all the parts of my songs live on my own. I recruited some of my good friends, Lou Grignaffini (of Early Bird Special), Roksana Habibi (Roksana) and Stirling Taylor to help out, and even then we needed to cut many layers to make the songs playable and interesting live. My sister, photographer/videographer Zoe Salvucci filmed it all for us, it’s on my YouTube. The crowd had a great energy at our show at the Lilypad in Cambridge, they were super into it! I’ve seen too many shows where I’ve been disappointed by how uniform a band’s set has been, and sought to have this show be exciting and dynamic but still with some common thread. It felt super honest and revealing being up there on stage, I’d been used to hiding in the back behind a drum set!
Standing in the front of the stage with a microphone is a very very different experience, but I think we did great, and I think the next one will be even better with all the new material I’ve written since. I have no shows planned just yet, but am going to hit the ground running when I get to Portland next week, recruiting new members so I can hopefully have a show planned and ready by October or November.
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