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Monday, August 19, 2013

Boice Will Be Boice: A Q&A with Dj Buddy Beaverhausen

Meet Boice! Boice-Terrel Allen was a roommate, briefly, with my downstairs friend and neighbor in Bay Ridge while hunting for an apartment of his own. We largely saw one another in passing on the staircase or on the street, though we were together (Boice, my friend and I) at a small gathering when news came across CNN, in the background, that Whitney Houston had died. I'll always remember sharing that moment of shock and grief with him among others present that evening in Bay Ridge. This was how we came to know one another.

I mostly thought of Boice as a quiet, unassuming guy; very bright, personable, likely to be a writer, arist, poet. Little did I know! Though Boice is all the things I assumed him to be, he is truly much more; an inspiration as well as an amazing talent you owe it to yourself to experience....

Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: Hi, Boice, and thank you so much for doing this Q&A with me. How did your show at Webster Hall go?
Boice: Thanks Charles, it's my pleasure! The show was exciting. It's funny how much work goes into 10 minutes of stage time. I didn't think it was a perfect performance but I was pleased overall and it made me want to do more shows.

DBB: I feel in the presence of a rising star. Little did I know when we were at that little soiree in Brooklyn and news came via the tv in the background that Whitney had died. What went through your head at that moment?
B: It was one of those surreal moments that you'll always remember where you were in that sense, at least for this generation, both Whitney and Michael Jackson felt like tragic bookends for obvious reasons. It was especially heartbreaking since I grew up listening to their music and watching their videos. I remember saving my allowance money so I could buy Whitney's second album the day it came out. I remember seeing Michael moonwalk on the Motown special and the next day in school every kid trying to imitate him. There was a connection to their passing in a way that wasn't there when Lennon died even though I'm a Beatles fan--I wasn't around to personally experience Beatlemania.

DBB: Fashion Whirled snapped your picture at Aspen Social Club and identified you as "Singer and fashion icon." Have you ever modeled or considered it? Please do tell about your connection with fashion. Also, that blog said you were there to promote your "video release party for his debut album 'Itchy Boys'."The album is entitled How to Be an Adult. Did you change the title? If so, why?
B: Yes, I have modeled and I'm currently signed with an agency. I've enjoyed what I've done and would love to do more although its something that is pursued more casually than my music or books. But as a longtime fan of artists like Bowie, Madonna, Grace Jones--music and fashion for me have always been intertwined. I believe that the music stands alone and works without any of the photo shoots or videos but when added there's a texture that enhances and complements the music. I've naturally intended to combine the two in my work. This goes back to the publication of my books before I started making music. Yes, I'm completely concerned with making the best fiction or the best music but I'm also thinking about the styling for my author photo. I'm thinking about what image I want to project on my website or album cover. I'm always thinking about the creative direction and what's on the inside.
Regarding the Aspen Social Club event, it was the week before my video release party for the "Itchy Boys" song which appeared on my debut, but I also performed a full set with a band playing songs from the album. The title was always going to be How To Be An Adult--which I later discovered was also the name of self-help book. 

DBB: How would you describe your musical style? And who are your musical influences? 
B: With the first album, it seemed easier to describe my style by whom influenced the album--Beatles, Morrissey, Elvis Costello--smart pop, melodic, crafty lyrics. But with the new album being more electronic due to it being primarily created on an iPad. Although it doesn't sound especially EDM. Overall my influences include Bowie, Madonna, Dylan, Kanye, Miles, Joni Mitchell and many more--although you might not hear anything overt in my songs. In particular on GMA1, I was influenced by dance music like Hot Chip and Calvin Harris for the sound since I was intentionally creating an upbeat album.

DBB: How do you feel your sophomore album, Get Me Audio, Vol 1, differs from your debut?

B: I see the albums differently in a few ways and that happened both out of necessity and organically. My debut was recorded in a studio with a full band and has an alternative/rock sound. It came out in 2010 but by the time I was ready to begin writing the follow-up I couldn't fathom another 2-3 years working on it. Between studio time and the cost of paying a band. But around this time Apple released GarageBand for the iPad which is basically a mini-studio and then later in the year Gorillaz released their album The Fall which was recoded on an iPad and was highly influenced and then I saw Bjork perform and she was playing music on an iPad. Together, all these events influenced my decision to record the bulk of the album at home or in coffee shops on my iPad with additional keyboards and my vocals added in the studio.

DBB: From your website: As boice watched the 2012 Summer Olympics his years-long music block shattered when he realized that the winners were “living in dreams,” as he puts it. This phrase became the wellspring for his new indie album, Get Me Audio, Vol 1. Despite all his ideas and intentions up to that point, it took a single moment of effortless inspiration to launch boice into “not only having dreams, but having the courage to pursue them.”  You certainly are living your dreams. Tell us what that's like for you.
B: In a world where most or many people will not live their dreams--it truly feels like an honor or a privilege. To have something like music which I've always been passionate about as a listener to playing trombone in the band in high school and being a drum major to now, it's incredible to see your desires manifested.

DBB: In one of the songs from your debut album, you sing "At 17, I felt like Janis Ian." Is that true? Why?
B: The song you reference, "Everybody Loves A Comeback," is what I consider to be one of my story-songs. An influence of both my idol Dylan and also as a novelist. It's one of those songs I'm attempting to pack in as much information and drama as a novel but within a 3-4 minute song. Which is a great challenge for myself. So this song is much more literary and has a beginning, middle and ending and is very character-driven and written in the first person. The character of this song is a former child actor who was quite famous and then he wasn't until he made a comeback as an adult and he's reflecting on his life or as he says the "rise and fall and rise". He references Janis Ian's song "At Seventeen" because he's noting the irony of being an outcast yet becoming extremely popular despite how he felt on the inside. So although the song isn't autobiographical, I think it's a universal concept for everyone to feel like they don't always fit in somewhere at some time in their life.

DBB: You're also a novelist and writer. Can you tell us more about that and your literary influences?
B: I self-rpublished my first novel, The Daughters of a Mother, in 2000 after receiving dozens of rejections from publishers and agents. Which was painful at the time but definitely was an asset later on since it builds up a thick skin to rejection and not taking it personally. But being the type of person who doesn't easily take no for an answer, it was inevitable that I would eventually publish all of my books myself. Between 2000-2005, I released three books of fiction: The Daughters of a Mother, Janet Hurst and Screwball Comedy/Stories Going Steady. I also edited and published a multicultural anthology of fiction and poetry entitled Coloring Book.
I see this period as a novelist as an old chapter. A chapter that I enjoyed and learned from but what I'm doing now--making music--feels like home, it feels like what I was meant to do.  Yet writing books was a necessary step because I definitely believe I'm the lyricist I am today as a direct result.
My literary influences were Alice Munro, Gayl Jones, Junot Diaz and Truman Capote. I tend to write in the first person so I adore authors who either write in the first person or their work is driven by character more than plot.

DBB:How do you approach your songwriting? Lyrics first or melody? Do you send your music out to other artists to cover?
B:My songwriting has changed between the two albums. With my debut, I would sing the vocal melody to my former guitar teacher who had a home studio and would produce my demos as a result of my never keeping up with learning the guitar--particularly when I learned that I could still write songs without knowing how to play an instrument or read music. Which was life-changing! I discovered that I could come up with melodies in my head wherever I was--on the subway, walking down the street--and then I'd quickly hum the melody into my phone's voice memo before I'd forget it.
For GMA1, I would still come up with music as I just described but then with different music production apps I could create music that didn't require knowing how to play an instrument. Another way these apps expanded my music--like Ikaossilator or Loopy--is that I would combine different sounds to make loops and then that loop of music would now inspire the vocal melodies. The iPad had unexpectedly opened me up as a songwriter. It's funny because I was bemoaning to a musician friend that I should have stuck with learning the guitar and his response was that the iPad is my new instrument.

DBB: Tell us about your growing up in Pittsburgh and what influence that has had on your art.
B: Technically I grew up in a small town about a half hour outside of Pittsburgh. Even though I spent my entire childhood in a small town, I always felt like I belonged in a big city. That sense of knowing but without any evidence of why. As a kid, I would read Rolling Stone magazine and watch MTV and think that there's the world out there and I have to leave to be a part of it. I appreciate where I came from because I wouldn't be the artist I am today and I feel like I've paid tribute to my roots by setting all of my books in a fictional version of Pittsburgh.

DBB: Boice, thank you so much for this opportunity to interview you. Any last words you'd like to leave my readers?
B: And thanks so much for interviewing me! I suppose my final thoughts are for everyone to find the courage to pursue their dreams--which I hope that I can, in some way, be an example. And by courage, I don't mean being unafraid before you take any necessary steps; on the contrary, you move forward even when you're scared. Sometimes we look at someone's life with envy and think: If I had their courage I'd be fill-in-the-blank. Not realizing everyone has fear but that person may have made one more call or sent out one more email or went on more audition. We must do one more act even in the midst of fear. 

You can check out Boice's website for more information on this amazing performer:

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