What started out as an experiment for BOYCUT members Emily Otnes and Joe Meland quickly turned into an entertaining side project, and then turned into a fully functioning band having released their debut EP Alien last week. Now, the Champaign-Urbana electronic-pop duo is gearing up to further transform their project into a live setting with a show this Saturday at Joe’s Brewery in Champaign, Ill. With a successful release behind them and a big Pygmalion Music Festival date ahead of them, we caught up with Otnes and Meland about where the project stands and where it’s heading.
Ghost Track: How did BOYCUT come about?
Joe Meland: We started writing back in September of last year. At that time I had played a couple of shows with Emily, but we didn’t know each other too well. We got together to jam and I ended up showing her a pop tune I had written and produced. We thought it would be fun to make a song along those lines, so we wrote and recorded a couple, though they will never be released (laughs). Those were mostly to figure out what sound we were going for.
Emily Otnes: We started this project pretty much the first time we ever hung out for real. We had met many times at shows and some events before that, but when we got together to jam we knew right away we wanted to make pop music. Joe had a lot of phat beats from his high school years, and I always love jamming to a good pop song. Somehow it turned into electro-pop that we both fell in love with.
Ghost Track: When did you start releasing the songs individually?
Emily Otnes: We wrote “Wave” first, and it was very much a collaborative effort. We were so excited to show everyone that we just put it on the Internet. The response was pretty nice, so we decided to make more tunes and get even more experimental with it all. I’m really excited about the songs we just released, they sound miles better than where we started. But I’m sure there will be some new ones around the corner.
Joe Meland: We didn’t have any initial plans about making a longer release so we just put each song online as we made them. This release is sort of a compilation of reproduced and remixed versions of those songs, plus a new song, “Fire.”
Ghost Track: You guys are both songwriters for different, more rock-driven projects (Feral States and Tara Terra). How did you go about writing for this project? Who primarily wrote the songs, or did you guys sit down together to write them?
Joe Meland: I can’t speak for Emily, but I find that it’s always fun to write within different styles, as each one poses individual challenges that you might not find in others. So, it’s nice to have multiple outlets for which to write. The process has varied pretty widely for each song, but it’s always collaborative.
Emily Otnes: Joe will usually make the beat and I’ll come up with the melody and vocal part. Or, I’ll come up with a hook first and he’ll write a beat that gels with the hook. It’s very collaborative, many of the lyrics and concepts are things we decided on in the studio.
Ghost Track: What’s the plan for this project? You guys have a lot of stuff going on, is this a priority for you guys or is it more “fun” at the moment?
Joe Meland: We’re currently planning to tour, but nothing that can be talked about yet. Other than that, we’re playing Pygmalion this year, which we’re really excited about. I would say we started as a side project but we’ve definitely gotten more serious about it since then.
Emily Otnes: I honestly hope that people get addicted to BOYCUT. It’s fun for me to really let loose in a department I don’t take so seriously. Not to say the music shouldn’t be good, but rather that the music should be fun for everyone. It should make you want to dance, to get a little tipsy, and run around the room – or maybe sit in your room with really nice headphones and go, “Oh wow, I didn’t notice that before.”
Ghost Track: How did working with Klevah come about?
Emily Otnes: She’s one of the best rappers I’ve ever heard live and her album is golden – pun extremely intended. So I’m like, “Let’s get her on this song!” The beat for “Fire” turned really hip-hop, so I think it was a great match. T.R.U.T.H also did a verse on it with us live and I loved her version as well.
Catch BOYCUT this Saturday, August 1 at Joe’s Brewery in Champaign, Ill. and at this year’s Pygmalion Music Festival.