Our emerging artist program, Big Break, is back! We’ll be regularly featuring rising talent taking the live music world by storm and climbing the Bandsintown charts. From the stories behind their sound to their big plans for the future, get to know the next wave of must-hear musicians before they break.
Trading New York for a midwestern paradise, Boyish made a space to immortalize the uncertainty of the pandemic. On their new EP We’re all gonna die, but here’s my contribution, the now Brooklyn-based duo—consisting of India Shore and Claire Altendahl—deals with unrequited love, existential dilemmas, and the loneliness of quarantine. The project is a time capsule; the marker of an era in which in-person connections were a rarity. Listening to this album reminds us of what we have all been through, and how we can relate to one another through the shared experience that was 2020.
Formed at Berklee College of Music, Boyish combines Shore’s wistful vocals with the angsty alternative-pop sound of our recent favorites beabadobee and Snail Mail. Their music transports you to a dimly lit music venue, where the floors are beer-soaked and the four walls shake with every slight justle of the crowd. The second you press play on this collection of songs, you can instantly envision fans screaming the lyrics back to the band.
Now that shows are coming back, Boyish is making this vision a reality. They have been thrilling audiences all around New York, performing the EP they crafted when shows were a distant memory. In addition to headlining their own concerts, this December, the band will be opening for their friend and fellow alternative pop artist Ella Jane in Brooklyn. With a Music Forward Foundation LGBTQ+ Emerging Artist Award under their belt, Boyish is ready to cement their spot in the music world. The newest Big Breakers also made a playlist full of the songs that inspired their latest release, check it out below, follow them on Bandsintown, check out their upcoming events, then read on to learn more about their plans for 2021 and beyond.
You’ve begun playing live again since venues have started opening back up. What has changed between your pre-pandemic performances and now? What was your first show back like for you?
Claire: Before the pandemic, we only had a couple of shows after the release of Garden Spider and then everything shut down. We didn’t really know what we wanted to look like or sound like live. During quarantine we wrote We’re all gonna die, but here’s my contribution and finally our sound and aesthetic fell into place. We started to care less about what people thought and decided to be our awkward, weird selves on stage and we’ve had the most fun we’ve ever had performing again! I think we cried our first show back. I forgot how fun it is to turn everything up really loud.
India: I think the biggest difference between pre-pandemic shows and post is that people are actually coming to our shows, which honestly feels crazy. We have played to a lot of empty rooms, so the first show back I was definitely prepared for that. But I was honestly so shocked, overwhelmed, and happy by the people who showed up and that people knew the words to our songs! It was crazy!
How do you get ready for a show? Any rituals?
Claire: Group panic, run around the venue, use my drink ticket for a sprite, hide in the green room, think about dinner, drink water. We still get really nervous right before, and especially about what we’re gonna say in-between songs.
India: I think I kind of work myself up for like an hour before I go on stage, and really try to think about what I need to talk about on stage.
Your Spotify bio says “Are you gay? Are you sad? Then you’re in the right place.” How do you aim to create a space for the LGBTQ+ community at your shows and through your music?
Claire: I went to a Janelle Monae show a couple years ago and I remember walking into the bathroom and seeing other non-binary people in there and for the first time probably ever, nobody gave me dirty looks for being in the women’s room and at that moment I made it a goal for our shows to have that same effect on people—to make people feel comfortable and like they belong in that space. Being gay is basically our only personality trait at this point, and being able to share your gayness with a bunch of other gays is the new American dream.
India: Like what Claire said, I would love if our shows felt like a safe environment, a fun environment, and an accepting place to be yourself. I think they already are just based on who's been attending them, which is a really amazing thing to see, but we would love to enhance that feeling even more in the future.
Describe the process of creating We’re all gonna die, but here’s my contribution. What kept you inspired during lockdown?
Claire: At the start of lockdown I was in Minnesota and India was in Brooklyn, so the start of that EP was sending voice memos back and forth over a couple of months. By July, I convinced India to leave NYC for some nice midwest space and we started piecing together the voice memos we liked best. We wrote every song between July and August and our main goal was to make everything as honest and emotional as possible. We wanted every part of a song to evoke a feeling and have a purpose. We really took our time with it because the whole world had stopped so there wasn’t the pressure to release music. We were inspired a lot by TV shows, like Euphoria, and movies and books. There wasn’t much happening in our personal lives so we found a lot of inspiration in the story lines of characters.
India: I was locked down in New York with my mom and family from March through July, so I feel like I was most inspired by being back in my childhood bedroom. I regressed in a lot of ways in the pandemic and truly felt like I was 13 again. I watched a lot of Twilight and One Direction compilations on YouTube, and being in that mindset really helped me process my emotions in a way that felt melodramatic enough to write about. I think Claire and I were also really inspired by television and other movies as well, like Howl’s Moving Castle and Euphoria.
I have seen your music labeled as “bedroom pop.” What do you make of this label? How do you bring bedroom pop music into a live setting?
Claire: Bedroom pop is the perfect label because we literally record everything in my bedroom. We haven’t worked with outside producers yet, probably because we are control freaks, but also because producing is one of the most fun aspects of the process. A lot of the way we produce our music is due to not having the money to be in a big studio—that’s why a lot of our drums are samples and we produce everything from a laptop. Bringing that to life on stage has been a challenge! We don’t record our music with the idea of how to do it live afterwards. I’m a big believer that you give the song whatever it needs and you don’t limit it while you are recording it. So now live, we use backing tracks, but are constantly looking for ways to recreate each song.
India: It’s a good label! We made everything in Claire’s room ourselves. Now we are working out how to translate these sounds from our bedrooms to the stage—trying to figure out what to keep the same, what to make bigger, and how to recreate what we made which has been really fun. Almost like deciphering a puzzle.
You’ve cited Phoebe Bridgers as an inspiration, even posting her Saturday Night Live performance on Instagram. She’s on tour right now, are you going to see her? What is one song of hers you wish you had written?
Claire: We are debating a road trip to Boston to see her, I think we would both pass out if we got to. We watched her Pitchfork Fest livestream and at the end we were both stage diving on the couch, so I’m not sure we would be able to handle it in person. I wish I wrote "I Know The End". It’s a modern day rock opera, it's so epic and insane and I would love to play it live.
India: She’s everything. I don’t have tickets to see her yet, everything sold out in 12 minutes. I’m considering buying a resale ticket in Boston and driving there to see her. I wish I had written “Smoke Signals, ”“Punisher” or “Waiting Room”. All those songs hit me so hard, and explain so many things I’ve felt in my life. I wish I had been able to articulate it like she had.
Your recent shows have been around New York, what is your favorite venue to play there? Favorite to attend as a fan?
Claire: I love Elsewhere for both playing and attending! The sound is great, there are so many stages—and it’s close by!
India: My favorite venue I’ve played so far has been Mercury Lounge. We had our most recent show there and it was such an amazing experience. I’m also really excited to play Baby’s All Right for the first time! I think my favorite venue to see live music might be Music Hall of Williamsburg or Kings Theatre!
What role has the New York music scene played in your career so far? How is it different from your days at Berklee College of Music?
Claire: I’m still fairly new to the New York scene but everyone is so cool! The scene feels very diverse, creative and a lot more supportive than the Berklee crowd. At Berklee there was a competitive vibe that felt kind of toxic at times. I think that really affected our music too, but we have been able to be more authentic in New York.
India: I grew up in New York, so it was amazing to see the music scene when I was young and dream about being a part of it. The New York scene feels way bigger than the shows that happened at Berklee.
If you had to play anywhere in the US right now—and it was completely safe to do so—where would you want to perform? Dream venue? Dream city?
Claire: I had a dream about Red Rocks the other day—that has always been a dream of mine.
India: Hollywood Bowl!
Let’s say someone was coming to see you perform live but had never heard your music before. What would you say to them?
Claire: Hope you’re gay or an ally <3
India: I’m not sure! I would just want them to have the best time ever.
What does the next year look like for you? And in your wildest dreams, where are you five years from now?
Claire: This next year we’re looking forward to playing shows again! We’ve been working on a new EP and can’t wait to start releasing that along with a couple of videos to go with it. We’re big on manifesting, so we’re shooting big on this one. In five years we will have gotten an opening slot on a big tour, played Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, and Coachella. Met Phoebe Bridgers, collabed with her on a song, and headlined our own tour! Played a stadium, got a tour dog, got a big Gibson SG collection, and released the best album we’ve ever written.
India: We’re working on new music, so hopefully we release that in the next year, and play lots of shows. In my wildest dreams we’re touring, playing festivals, and still writing music we love!