BOY – a contagious confection that has spread across the internet like wildfire. The Hamburg-based duo gets your toes tapping, mind playing, feet moving, emotions travelling, head thinking, hips jerking. But above all, they make music that brings a smile to your face. Imagine a mix of the art school elegance of Phoenix, the lively melodics of Feist and the emotional depth of Bon Iver. But to draw such comparisons is superficial and not especially helpful because what you miss is the originality of the BOY concept and the charisma of its two performers. The BOY phenomenon began this summer with their first single ‘Little Numbers’. Now, having conquered their native Germany and Switzerland, they are shipping their sharp brand of pop to the rest of Europe. BOY are both girls. Valeska Steiner sang in several bands in her native Switzerland before moving to Germany, where Sonja Glass grew up, playing the cello in classical orchestras as a child, and later working as a bass player for several pop bands. The duo met when Valeska won a place at a prestigious summer holiday music workshop in Hamburg. There she met Sonja, who had recently returned from a spell studying bass guitar in Holland. BOY’s debut album, “Mutual Friends”, is an autobiographical affair. “It’s about arrivals and new beginnings,” says Valeska, whose songs are written and sung in English. “About hopes and dreams and aspirations. We want to make music that’s positive and hopeful,” explains Valeska,. “There is more to music than heartbreak and loss,” agrees Sonja.
“This is the Beginning” provides the springboard into the album. “Drive Darling” is inspired by Valeska leaving behind friends and family in Zurich. “And no rear view could picture what we leave behind. Drive, darling, drive.” As the tempo rises and the driving sound of guitars push to the fore, the future seems to begin with a smile as a feeling of optimism prevails. In complete contrast however, “Waitress” explores the melancholy story of a barmaid stuck in time and wondering when her life is going to start: “While daylight is fading, while traders are trading, while the jukebox is playing, while lovers are dating, the waitress is waiting.” You can hear the empathy in Valeska’s voice on the album’s last track, “July”, a fitting end to the album, it closes the circle of venturing out into the world by bringing you, at last, back home.
The dozen songs on “Mutual Friends”, painstakingly recorded over a two-and-a-half year period at the 12 square meter home studio of producer and multi-instrumentalist Philipp Steinke in Berlin, have gone through many transformations since they were written. “We made about 10 versions of most of the songs,” says Sonja. “So they have evolved over the course of time. And some of them have ended up sounding completely different from the way they began.”
BOY played most instruments on the record themselves. Only in some cases, such as drumming duties, a rotating roster of friends jumped in to play, among them Phoenix’s live drummer Thomas Hedlund. Their irresistible debut single “Little Numbers”, which has sparked countless YouTube tributes, is something of a straggler, being the last recorded from the sessions. But this is arguably precisely why the track is imbued with such a rambunctious drive and dizzying joyousness; it is the product of studio playtime, the long-awaited period where musicians can relax and have fun knowing – wrongly as the case may be – that all the work is done.
The colourful video, shot on the streets of Barcelona last summer, has already clocked up nearly two millions YouTube hits since it was uploaded in July. And the song swiftly spawned countless tributes from fans posting their own versions. BOY’s “Mutual Friends“ is an intoxicating mixture to lift even the dullest day out of the doldrums and the direct result of the refreshingly lively and humorous personalities of Valeska and Sonja. BOY sing smart, sharply-observed songs with hooks you can’t get out of your head and lyrics that come from the heart. With its irresistibly breezy optimism, it’s one of those out-of-nowhere pop hits that gets into your head and won’t go away. BOY’s songs reveal inventive twists, adding subtle experimental touches to a conventional pop palette of guitar, piano drums and bass.
Videos & Press
[Buzzbands] By Seraphina Lotkhamnga Some videos make one feel as if they are bouncing with the beat, but the black-and-white clip accompanying Boy‘s song “Oh Boy,” makes you feel as if you are dancing with members Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass. Sure, there are synchronized dance moves, but the off-kilter and nature-centric scenes that quickly […]
[MTVIggy] A fabric store made a cozy venue for our exclusive sesh with the girls of rising Swiss/German pop duo Boy. We curled up for an intimate chat with Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass and got a command performance of one of the prettiest (and catchiest) songs we’ve heard in a long time. Watch here.
[SF Examiner] March 4, 2013 By Tom Lanham In her native Zurich, Switzerland, aspiring vocalist Valeska Steiner had heard that Hamburg’s prestigious Hochschule was the university she needed to attend, especially for its introductory six-week songwriting workshop, a great testing ground for young musicians. “It was just a good place to meet other performers,” says […]
[NY Times] March 3, 2013 By JON PARELES Of course, in 2013, a group called Boy is a duo of women: Valeska Steiner, from Zurich, and Sonja Glass, from Hamburg, Germany. But any subterfuge ends there. Boy writes and sings tuneful, friendly, forthright pop-folk songs about life and relationships. The songs detail small milestones: moving into a new […]
[Rolling Stone] “‘Little Numbers’ was the last song we wrote for our album. We had already given many of our songs to different record companies and were desperately waiting for them to call us back, so for us it’s about this situation. But for other people it’s rather a love song, I assume,” Boy’s Sonja […]
[Baeble Music] THE COMING INVASION: 5 BANDS SURE TO WASH UP ON OUR SHORES THIS SPRING WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2012 | POSTED BY: DAVID PITZ BOY – Switzerland/Germany OK, we’ve heard maybe two songs from this Swiss-German duo, but we think a lot of people are going to fall for the music Valeska Steiner and […]
[Noisetrade] Download “music from BOY,” the exclusive sampler EP from Hamburg-based indie pop duo BOY, set to make their North American debut with ‘Mutual Friends,’ their first full-length album, on February 26, 2013. Their single “Little Numbers” is now available on iTunes and has garnered more than 6.5 million YouTube views. Watch for them to […]