Saturday, April 6, 2013

CMW 2013 | Interview with BOY

One of the artists I was most excited to see perform live during Canadian Music Week was BOY, a German/Swedish pop duo made up of Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass. I discovered their catchy songs earlier this year and they have earned a permanent spot on my iPod. Their music is fresh and positive and I got hooked.

So when I heard they were going to be in Toronto for CMW this year, I was stoked. I got to interview half of BOY, Valeska Steiner - probably one of the sweetest people I've ever met. Here's a glimpse into our interview:

How’s the tour been going to far?

It has been such a great adventure. It has always been my personal dream to tour in North America and it’s really just as nice as I imagined it to be. We are really appreciating every minute of it and also we’re very surprised and overwhelmed by how many people come to the shows and already know the songs and sing along. So that’s really quite amazing to be so far away from home and play the songs you’ve written there and see people on the other side of the world already know them. So we see that as a big presence somehow.

Your debut album Mutual Friends was just released in North America - what went into the making of it?

It took two and half years to make the album. It’s been out for a while in our hometowns, in Germany and Switzerland. We started writing in 2008 and then we had two and a half years of not being in the studio. It took us a while to find a record label. In the beginning, we sent it to many different record labels. We got rejected by so many of them and that was a time where we had to have a bit of faith and just believe in what we do. We were so sure in that we want to do it no matter what, or how big or how small, so we just kept going. In the end, we found a really great label that we’re working with right now. 

What’s it like working with Sonja? Could you tell me about your dynamic as a duo?

It took us quite a while to find out how. We met at a music workshop and that was all about meeting other musicians. We clicked really quickly and felt there was a really good musical and personal connection. And then it took us a while to find out how it worked best for us to write together because when we were sitting in one room with one guitar, it didn’t work at all. Nothing came out. Then we figured out a way of working separately. It always starts with instrumentals that Sonja records at her place where she programs drums and plays the bass and guitars. Then she sends me this instrumental track via email and I find lyrics and a melody to fit at my place and send it back, so it goes back and forth. Then we sit together in one room and think it’s an idea that already has some sort of substance and we put it together. 

You were also at SXSW this year - how was that?

It was a big chaos but it was nice. There was a lot of running around with all our instruments and we played seven shows in four days, so it was very busy but it was nice. There were some shows with big technical difficulties because you have 10 minute changeovers and line checks. There was one show where we had line check and the audience was already in the club and nothing worked really, it was just feedbacks all over and the guitar signals weren’t coming out of the PA. And we were worried because there were many people waiting for the show to start. We somehow knew that there wasn’t going to be a good show with that kind of sound, so there was a courtyard in front of the club and we thought we could just take it outside and take the people with us. That turned out to be the greatest and most magical show we’ve probably ever played. It was really nice and people were sitting around us and it felt like a campfire somehow. It was nice to turn a difficult situation into something special. So that was definitely one experience that stuck out and there have been many great moments like that and just sharing special times with the audience.

I love your song "Little Numbers," and the video for it! What went into the making of it?

It was a lot of fun to make it. We had a Danish director for the video and we just contacted him because we really like another video he made for a Danish band. And so we sent him the song and he sent this idea he had to just go to Barcelona where he had lived. He said the light there is so beautiful and we’re just going to walk around and find situations that are worth being filmed. In the beginning we were like okay, let’s just go there but what is going to happen, because we had no script or no plan. But then we found so many nice people and moments where you just had to film and in the end it was hard to choose and eliminate scenes because we had so many nice moments and encounters. So it was just two days of walking around in Barcelona and filming whatever happened.

What’s your favourite part of being a musician?

It’s difficult. It has so many different sides to it. I really enjoy the part of creating music very quietly at home in a very private space somehow. And the moment where ideas come to you and you don’t have any idea where they come from. It’s like a little gift from somewhere. And then of course there are the moments when you share this music with other people and you feel like it makes a connection or it means something to other people. So I think the writing and the playing are really magical sides to this profession of being a musician. I’m very happy that I get to do that.

What pushes you to keep making music?

I think Sonja and I really push each other somehow. I think it’s really nice to be two people in a band and if times are hard or if situations are difficult, you always have another person who is in the same place with you. Sometimes one is weaker and one is stronger, and you can always pull each other out of difficult situations. Also for the good parts, it’s nice to have someone to share them with you. It’s really nice to do this together.

What’s up next for you both?

For this month we’ll just be playing more in Canada and the US. For this year, we might come back; we’d love to, maybe with our whole band. And we started writing for the next album in January. We’d like to slowly keep writing and have some time to do that as well.

Their first official performance on Canadian soil was at HMV in downtown Toronto for a special acoustic set and autograph session. 

Later that same day, they played at the El Mocambo for a CMW showcase. They had a huge turnout and despite some technical hiccups, they were a hit! I was definitely singing along....

Overall, I'm so glad I got to experience them live - their feel-good music is so pure and effortlessly uplifting. 

Be sure to check out and find them on Facebook - keep an eye out for my full article on!

- Christina
Follow my adventures on Twitter: @christinaaa28

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