By: Lindsy Carrasquillo
Boysin, an indie rock band from Jacksonville, Fl released their sophomore record, Still Small today (January 9). We caught up with lead singer and guitarist Russell Beard to talk about the new record, Jacksonville’s DIY scene and more. The band will be playing in Gainesville on January 25 opening for Sports Reference’s EP release show.
In October, you released the song ‘Shadow Box’ as part of a split sample with Rosemary Kennedy through Paper + Plastik. What has working with Paper + Plastik been like?
The split was something we were just going to do for fun with Rosemary Kennedy, but I’m excited it’s turning into something more. Honestly, we’re not in direct contact with Paper + Plastik, so I can’t speak a lot to the ins and outs of it, but I will say it’s been a long process. Vincent from P+P is someone who’s been around in the industry for a very long time, so I’m excited to put our music into the hands of somebody who is a bit more seasoned. It’s only our second experience working with a label in any locality, so there’s a bit of a learning curve there.
Can you talk about the upcoming split and how it differs from your new album?
Yeah, that’s been an interesting time. We’ve had most of the songs from Still Small in our back pocket since early 2016, and some of them go even farther back. The songs that we wrote for the split are brand new. A few of those parts were even written in studio. With the split we wanted to stretch ourselves in all sorts of directions. ‘Shadowbox’ is very short, loud, and angry; which is in most ways pretty outside of the norm for us. While there is still a clear growth, we honed in on a more specific sound for Still Small.
The band has a strong sense for creating a visual concept as seen through how your live shows reflect the cover of your debut album, Siding. With Still Small, can you talk about what went into creating the artwork for the album and singles?
Sean Burns, our guitarist, came up with the concept and shot all the album art, single art, and music videos himself. The album art reflects the concept of the record as a whole. The feeling of being still small and unable to get out of something so much bigger than yourself. The lyrics revisit a lot of the themes in ‘Siding’ and how they are still problems that are much bigger than myself. It’s not very different from falling back into a large ocean.
What were some of your inspirations going into making the album both musically and personally?
A lot of our major influences and inspirations for this record come from Death Cab for Cutie, Manchester Orchestra, and The National. Specifically early Death Cab. This record has a bit of keys and synth pads on it, which is something we haven’t visited until now. Sean listened to a lot of those earlier Death Cab records for keys references. Personally, I really tried to work on my lyrics and allow them to be more specific and not as cryptic as some of our older stuff. I took a lot of influence from Leonard Cohen for that.
What impacts your lyrics the most?
My lyrics are all super personal and are mostly impacted by doubt. We don’t write about girls and classic romantic relationships, so there’s a lot of talk of friends, dreams, and family in the songs. We did this cool cyclical thing with the order of the record this time around. Every song has another song that corresponds with it later in the record, so I had a lot of fun writing the songs with the other song in mind.
How did you decide on making ‘Leave’ the first single?
‘Leave’ has been around for a while and we always felt like it was the perfect middle of the road kind of single. I think it really represents the album well. When we started debuting these songs live, it was always the song that people asked where they could find it. Unfortunately, at the time, it wasn’t released, but it really helped us realize how good of a single it was. Charlie from Rosemary Kennedy/Coolicide shot a live video for it back in March and when we saw the success of the video, there was no doubt in our minds that it needed to be the one.
Can you talk about Jacksonville’s DIY music scene?
Jax music is sick and definitely on the come up. January is MASSIVE for new releases from bands too. The Nixon Tapes, Teen Divorce, Fernway, and a few other bands are releasing new music with even more to come later in the year. There’s definitely been a lot more of the DIY atmosphere in the past year or so. Everyone is working together and trying to make Jacksonville a better and more efficient place for bands to come play. Whether that’s more venues focused on giving the artist more money, more cost-effective recording options, or just sharing more bands’ music on Facebook, almost everyone’s doing their part.
Is there anything you would change about it?
I’d really love to see more bands in the indie/emo atmosphere. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with it, and we’re all fans of heavier or poppy-er music, but it would be cool to have more bands to pick through to throw on a bill.
What should people expect from the band this year?
We’re gonna release more music. We mapped out our 2018 the other day and planned to focus a lot more on releasing than touring. Not that we aren’t going to make it out to all of our favorite places, but we realized that since we became a band it takes a whole year to release anything for people to listen to. So we want to give more of that and more music videos and more content in general.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
The record is releasing on January 9th. It’s called ’Still Small’ and we’re doing a little North Florida run with it to celebrate all of our friends’ releases. Those dates are Teen Divorce’s release on the 21st in Jacksonville, Sports Reference’s release on the 25th in Gainesville, States Ave’s release on the 26th in Tallahassee, and finally on the 27th in Jacksonville for our release and The Nixon Tapes’ release. The show on the 27th is online limited presale only and we’re playing the record in it’s entirety.