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This piece is part of the Algorhythms project: artists telling stories about music they discovered from humans. Because where we discover music is an important part of its impact, and not all music is discovered through an algorithm.

Boyish on Phoebe Bridgers and Billie Eilish

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Welcome to Boyish, indie rock duo India Shore and Claire Altendahl, aka your new favorite band. In the sea of young creatives that is the Brooklyn indie scene, Boyish’s piercing vocals and dreamily chaotic instrumentals set them apart from the rest. And after releasing two, equally excellent LPs in their first two years as a band, it’s clear they’re just getting started.

The pair first met four years ago at Berklee College of Music where they collaborated under the moniker The Blue. Boyish wasn’t born until after India and Claire graduated and moved to New York, “feeling the need to start over...and having no idea what [was] going on,” they told Atwood Magazine back in May. But if you listen to their debut album from 2018, you have no sense of their internal dislocation. Carnation is a bold smattering of unmitigated passion and gentle introspection without any mark of its authors’ newcomer status. Their effortless command is best exemplified in “July,” a howling proclamation of hurt and desire that begins with the steady strum of Claire’s electric guitar and builds to India’s viscerally satisfying vocal breaks.

With the arrival of Garden Spider this past Valentine’s Day, Boyish proved their early success was no beginner’s luck. Their second full-length album explores several of the same themes examined in their first—sexuality, vulnerability, regret—but through a silkier, more ethereal sonic lens. India’s vocals are breathy and shimmering, an octave higher than those on Carnation, and amplified by twinkling synths and hazy guitar chords. Here, Boyish gestures toward the bedroom pop aesthetic while retaining the emotive energy and lyrically complex characteristic of the band.

For their Algorhythm, Claire recalls the text that changed the way she listens to and writes music, and India thinks back to the track that revitalized her artistic drive and inspired a new one.

Claire: A couple months ago, when quarantine just started up, I was really lost and confused about the state of the music industry and life in general. In March it was too cold to spend time outside in Minnesota and I was confined to my house. India sent me a text about this new track by Phoebe Bridgers that was going to “change the music industry." I had my doubts but turned on my stereo in the living room and cranked it up. I remember the way the guitars washed over me and Phoebe’s lyrics cut through me. India was right, it has changed the way I approach writing and even listening to music ever since. It’s called “Garden Song."
India: A couple years ago my friend Nicole showed me the Don’t Smile At Me EP and the song “Bitches Broken Hearts” by Billie Eilish. Like most people who hear Billie Eilish’s music for the first time, I was speechless. It came at a time in my life when I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue making music, and was also struggling with depression. This music just spoke to me in a way personally, and creatively that nothing ever had. It was so inspiring, and refreshing and really motivated me. It also really ignited a desire to learn to produce music, which has now become one of my favorite parts of being an artist.

The Boyish tour is currently on pause due to COVID-19, but fans can expect a new single later this month and a third EP before the end of the year. In the meantime, check out Claire and India’s latest release, the music video to “FUCK YOU HEATHER,” and listen to our full Algorhythms playlist here.

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