Hamburg-based duo BOY - [who are actually both girls] VALESKA STEINER and SONJA GLASS - released their thoroughly charming debut album 'Mutual Friends' last year, on which Phoenix’s touring drummer Thomas Hedlund plays drums on four songs.
It's a seriously underrated record, that deserves a worldwide international release across every continent. New Zealand, [please educate yourself and] let's fix this please?
COUP DE MAIN: How did you first meet each other? And when did you decide to form BOY?
BOY - SONJA GLASS: We met at a short music workshop in Hamburg during the Summer of 2005. Two years later Valeska decided to move to Hamburg. And in the end of 2008 we started to write and play together.
CDM: For those that haven't heard your music before, how would you describe it?
BOY - VALESKA STEINER: We care a lot about the lyrics but we didn't just want to make a pure Singer/Songwriter-album with just vocals and acoustic guitar. So we tried to make bigger arrangements and play with many different sounds and instruments, but still keep them light and transparent.
CDM: Valeska you're from Switzerland and Sonja you're from Germany - why did you decide to sing and write songs in English?
VALESKA: I've always felt more comfortable singing in English than in German. My mother tongue is Swiss-German, which is only spoken in a very tiny part of the world. So that would have probably put a limit on our touring possibilities. We would love to see the world and travel a lot with our music, and I think it's nice if people understand what you sing about. So English is probably the best language for that.
CDM: Who or what, are your main songwriting influences and inspirations?
SONJA: I think we are influenced by all the music we've listened to while growing up. And that's a lot of different music. But we are also inspired by the ideas of each other.
CDM: I love your debut album 'Mutual Friends'! What does the album title mean to you personally?
SONJA: Many friends of ours helped us to put the album together by playing on the record, taking photos, doing the artwork etc. So we thought it is a good name for the album. And also the songs are our mutual friends. And we hope a lot of people become their friends as well.
CDM: What was your favourite part/song of 'Mutual Friends' to record?
SONJA: For me it is always very special to record the vocal parts. It is very important to catch the right mood for recording a certain song. The voice is the soul of a pop song and it ends the circle of a recording.
CDM: Was it important to you as a band, to play as many instruments yourself as possible on the album?
VALESKA: Yes, I think it's nice if you feel like you've put as much as possible into your own album. But there were cases where it absolutely made sense to ask other people to play because we knew they'd add something special that we couldn't have done ourselves. And our producer, Philipp Steinke, had a very important part because he is an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist. So most of the time, it was just the three of us in a very small room which made it possible to work in a very focused and concentrated way.
CDM: Phoenix’s live drummer Thomas Hedlund plays drums on four tracks on the album - how did that come about?
SONJA: Valeska met Thomas after a close band of friends supported Phoenix in Zürich. They stayed in touch and when the time came to record drums for 'Oh Boy' we thought of him because he simply is the perfect drummer for this song. He ended up playing four songs for the album and we are very happy about that. We adore the way he plays the drums.
CDM: Lyrically, what's your favourite song that you've written so far and why?
VALESKA: I'd say 'Drive Darling' is one of the most important songs to me lyrically. It tells a story that means a lot to me and I'm happy I found the right words to sing about it.
CDM: What does your song 'Skin' mean to you personally?
VALESKA: It's about looking for happiness in the nightlife and about the nights where you don't find it. With platforms like Facebook for example, where it's all about showing how much fun you've had on the weekend and about how many new friends you've met, people tend to forget that it's normal to feel lonely sometimes or not have the time of your life every time you go out. So it's kind of a reminder for that.
CDM: Have you started writing new songs or working on your second album yet?
VALESKA: We have been working on some new ideas recently but we're touring so much at the moment that it's hard to find quiet writing moments. We're not a "jamming on the bus" kind of band. We need a lot of time and space to ourselves to work on ideas. So now it's playing time and hopefully we'll find time to write again soon. But we're trying not to put ourselves under any pressure.
CDM: How does it feel to have won a 2012 'European Border Breakers Award'?
SONJA: We feel very honoured about this international award. And at the same time we are still in the very beginning of playing in other countries than Germany or Switzerland. So it is very new for us to get recognised in other countries.
CDM: What are your five favourite things in the whole wide world and why?
VALESKA: Love, Friendship, Music, Flowers and Lasagna. Because they make life good and beautiful and tasty.
CDM: Can we hope that you'll visit us in New Zealand one day?
VALESKA: We would love to come to New Zealand!! Our tour manager just got back from a long holiday there and showed us some stunning photographs. The nature and the landscapes almost look unreal because they are so beautiful! So we can't wait to see them ourselves someday!!
Watch BOY's music video for 'Little Numbers' below...