INTERVIEW: .boy

Bedroom pop duo .boy return with their Wolves / Arrival EP: two tracks of  lovelorn, yearning vocals and nostalgia-inducing melodies that welcome you with open arms into their singular musical world.

.boy is Roger Phelps & Joel Henry Blaeser. The two founded the project less than a year ago, after Blaeser felt deeply inspired by Phelps’ laptop demos during their time quarantining in Ohio. The collaboration had legs from the get-go, stemming from a shared affinity for a certain few all-time favourite artists and the belief that weird   equals good. Thus, a singular musical vision of something warm and inviting, yet uncanny was born; pop music as wacky and witty as it is wondrous and wide-screened.

Wolves / Arrival further widens the lens of their world, evoking a pseudo-stadium feel decorated with orchestral elements, unconventional melodic leads transcendent of time and place, and strange recurring clock-ticking sounds.

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Roger: Thank you VENTS! So psyched to be e-chatting. And good! Can’t complain, we’ve got our health, family & friends, and the sun is back out for good here in Ohio! Hope everything is good in your realm.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Arrival | Departure”?

R: Yeah this one is special. It’s only our second official release as .boy and it’s certainly indicative of our goal to get better with each release. Joel, who is a wizard on Logic, sent me the instrumental one day and I immediately felt that it demanded some poppy vocals. The way that chorus hits just was so inspiring. I had just started writing a poem on my own (which I’ve found often become lyrics to our songs) and the words/flow worked very seamlessly with what Joel had produced – a sweet, sweet collab.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

R: Yes. The lyrical side of the tune, for me, reflects on a somewhat toxic relationship where we just couldn’t crack the code to a successful partnership – hence the “I lift you up and I lift you down” and “you kick me up and you kick me down”. There were so many one step forwards and two steps backwards moments. The “osprey” is a powerful and majestic creature that represents my partner at the time.

Any plans to release any sort of music video for the track?

R: Yes, we’re hoping to incorporate visuals with this track but it’s certainly tough to have a full-on proper music video right now with Covid so we’re thinking outside the box!   

The single comes off your new double side EP – what led you guys to go in this direction?

R: It’s tough to know where the music industry is in general – it’s like nailing jello to a tree. Do we release multiple EP’s? Singles? Albums? We knew we didn’t want to wait super long after our first EP release August and wanted to showcase the direction we’re moving towards. This double-single is kind of a ferry boat leading our fledgling fan base across to new pastures.

How was the recording and writing process?

R: I’ll let Joel take the lead on this one but, for me, it was perhaps the first time I felt confident vocally (mostly due to Joel’s coaching). He has a knack for helping me come out of my shell vocally.

J: What’s up? Joel here. These tunes share a lot of DNA; having similar sound sets & evoking cohesive moods to us both. The ‘Wolves’ session was great fun, constructing the music from scratch in one sitting together, building upon each other’s ideas. ‘Arrival | Departure’ came a bit after, 1st as an instrumental I made on a cold November morning. It captured various strong emotions to me personally, & when Roger connected with it & brought his vocal ideas to the table, it took things to a new level. He had loads of “voice memo” vocal ideas that I knew were strong. We took those to the studio & adjusted the performance as we went, tweaking words/melodies based on what felt right going through the mic & out the speakers.

What role does Canada play in your music?

R: Actually quite a bit! There are so many incredible artists from Canada that influence our music. And my father, just a guy from Cleveland, OH, USA absolutely loves Canadian music. He listens to CBC 3 religiously and sends me amazing tunes weekly. One such tune was “Evaporate” by Noble Oak out of Vancouver – this song is on our mix reference playlist and it’s just so, so good! And from my dad, I grew up listening to and loving The Tragically Hip. Carly Rae Jepson is another massive influence – I’m a big fan.

J: Grimes, Caribou, Joni Mitchell & Drake are easily in my top 20.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

R: I am fortunate enough to spend a lot of my summer’s in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where I am able to witness the beauty of osprey’s in real life (and a family friend has a beautiful ensign sailboat named the “Osprey”). This informed the beginnings of the poem I wrote which morphed into the lyrics for “Arrival | Departure”. “Wolves” is the first song we made together in the studio. We came up with the melodies together and then I set about writing lyrics which Joel helped out on massively. It’s inspired by the Lord of The Rings and fantasy.

What else is happening next in .boy’s world?

R: Well we just released a Remix EP with our tunes remixed by the incredible talents of Angry Apple, Pocket Change, galen tipton, and Noosa! All of their visions totally uplifted our tracks! That was a fun exercise. But the .boy project began when I shared like 25 demos with Joel so we definitely have a lot of material in the pipeline. We continue to create new tunes as well so we’re just hoping to take advantage of this pause in “normal” life and release as much quality music as we can! I personally don’t have any expectations, I just know that making music makes me happy and it’s a wonderful and creative use of time.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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