Boy Destroy’s EP Warpaint channels vulnerability for a cathartic experience
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Emerging talent Boy Destroy knows no bounds when it comes to his creative output.
His larger-than-life debut EP Warpaint combines his wide-ranging influences for a genre-bending experience, throwing himself into sounds inspired by 90s alternative rock, trap, emo, hip-hop, and alt-R&B.
But behind the exemplary production duties from We know nothing is a deeply personal tale as Boy Destroy tackles his sometimes troubled past.
Songs like You Don’t Want Me When I’m Sober, Lights Out and As Time Goes By captures the singer-songwriter’s vulnerability with honest lyricism as he processes what he’s left behind in a dark, coming-of-age journey.
“I was pretty good at hiding the way I treated myself and others in that sense”, Boy Destroy told Daily Star.
“When I started talking about it, it was the most frightening thing I’d ever done. I was super afraid. Then I did it and people, contrary to what I believed, really appreciated it.
“A lot of people walk around and don’t express their darker thoughts and tendencies. It’s pretty liberating, I believe, that somebody does so.”
The Sweden-based artist has already seen his tracks played by Radio 1’s Jack Saunders, who named Warpaint as his Tune of the Week, and has been praised by Apple Music 1, Wonderland, and Gigwise.
Warpaint is a snapshot of an artist unafraid to channel their vulnerability for an all-encompassing, cathartic experience.
“Music meant so much to me, and art in general”, he adds. “If I could be that force to somebody else and inspire them to do anything, to lose their minds for one night, to talk with their parents for the first time in 10 years, whatever it is, that feels like a life goal for me.”
Daily Star’s Rory McKeown caught up with Boy Destroy to talk about Warpaint’s writing and recording process, his influences, and hopes.
How have the past 12 months been for you? How’ve you dealt with things and has there been challenges or has it been fruitful?
“It’s been a bit of both, actually. I consider myself very lucky because the two producers I made my EP with, We know nothing, we all live in the same city, not that far from each other. We’ve been able to keep on working on music.
“As far as music writing goes, it’s been a very fruitful year. I’ve made so much music. I’ve written so many songs. I’ve had so much planned ahead of the EP.
"It’s really strange because I haven’t done a single live show as Boy Destroy. In my head, it’s always been half the project when you make music. To go out, meet people and play live.”
You’re about to release your new EP Warpaint. Tell me more about its writing and recording process. When did it start?
“The first seed that became Warpaint started a year and a half ago maybe. I had some serious troubles with addiction and I was in a really bad place. I lived in Stockholm for a while, and moving back to Gothenburg where I am now I wanted to start talking about the things I’d been through, my self-destructive tendencies. It was a really gradual process. Not like I’m going to call myself Boy Destroy and talk about this, but I was talking about it more and more in the songs I was writing.
"At the same time it didn’t sound like anything I had done before. When exactly that happened, I’m not sure. One day it was there.”
What are the themes running through it? You’re quoted as saying it’s a collection of stories from your sometimes troubled life. As a song writer, what’s it like delving into something so personal and vulnerable and turning it into song form?
“It’s very frightening at times, especially at the beginning. People generally didn’t know about it. I was pretty good at hiding the way I treated myself and others in that sense.
"When I started talking about it, it was the most frightening thing I’d ever done. I was super afraid. Then I did it and people contrary to what I believed really appreciated it.
"A lot of people walk around and don’t express their darker thoughts and tendencies. It’s pretty liberating, I believe, that somebody does so.”
It’s a varied effort sonically. You have the huge alt-pop opener single of Warpaint and You Don’t Want Me When I’m Sober, As Time Goes By is a piano ballad, there’s a more indie orientated sound on Lights Out. What was inspiring you to go down these roads for your sound?
“I’ve never been a guy that’s a 100% indie guy, or a rock guy, or a hip-hop head. I’ve always listened to multiple genres of music.
"I’ve been through periods of just listening to punk, emo or hip-hop. As the lyrics were getting more and more personal, I wanted to be real with how the music sounded, what I was talking about.
"These are all parts of me. I love alternative rock, indie, and I absolutely love hip-hop.”
Was there anything that was inspiring you during the time? Were you listening to anything in particular that led you to these sounds or was it a natural evolution?
“I started going back to my old heroes, like Jeff Buckley, Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo, Nirvana of course. At the same time I was listening to a lot of Lil Uzi Vert, Travis Scott, modern artists like that.”
In terms of your influences, it’s very varied. Would you say it’s important to be so open-minded?
“I try to be as open-minded as I can about that. Sometimes when I’m in the studio, if one of my producers says ‘let’s put a Pixies guitar in this song and see how it sounds’. I would be like ‘ I thought this was a hip-hop banger in my head’, but I’ve allowed it and in my opinion it’s turned out great.
“Music, from the beginning, it’s a vocal tradition. People didn’t have pianos in the Stone Age but they had their voices and sticks. That’s what it is from the beginning, this vocal tradition, I think. Dressing that however you like, it’s the thing that’s underneath that’s important.”
You mentioned working with the producers and adding Pixies guitars. What was it like seeing the record blossom from the initial ideas?
“It’s really trippy. I think that’s always the case when you’re writing songs. At least from my point of view, I have this idea of what a song is supposed to be. This is going to be a huge banger or a sad song. You can’t get in the way of that.
"The songs are writing themselves and you’re there to let them be written. I try not to get in the way of that.
"Sometimes it’s a pride thing and scary but a song always takes itself where it wants to go.”
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There's also a visual mixtape for the tracks. Do you enjoy getting into the music video side of things with your creative output?
“Visual art is just amazing in so many ways and something that’s so new to be in some ways. A good music video can enhance a song and, at the same time, tell a new story or multiple new stories. It becomes this inception of how much you want to put in there. It’s really cool to be able to do that.”
Are you looking forward to going down that route more?
“Absolutely! Since I got sober and decided to lead a better life, I’ve been so creative. I started painting a few months ago. I was so into that. I had to take a step back, I make music!
"I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to try and keep that at a decent level and not get totally sucked into everything.”
It sounds like your creativity is really flowing a the moment.
“Yeah, it’s there and you hop on the train sometimes. You’ve got to know when to get off and have a cup of coffee or something!”
As Time Goes By was named tune of the week by BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders. What’s it like receiving that praise with your material?
“It’s pretty strange to do it in the corona times because usually you can go out and meet people and talk to them. Now everything’s confined to this box I’m looking at right now.
"That said, it’s amazing. I knew who Jack Saunders was before he picked that song up. It’s humbling. As a songwriter and artist, you want to connect to people. To be able to get a platform to do so is amazing.”
Do you think it keeps the drive going to achieve more and more?
“I think so. We all have this unfulfilled longing for connection I think. More today than 20 years ago with social media and stuff.
“Music meant so much to me and if one of my songs can mean that much to somebody, I would be so happy.”
It’s also released via your own label Loyalty Obsession. How important is it for you that you have control and direction with your output?
“Creative control is really important and direction. I’m open for suggestions always because I know at my weaker moments it feels like I have all the answers but I know in the back of my mind that I don’t.
"My EP wouldn’t be what it was if I hadn’t had all these great collaborative partners to spitball with and work these ideas out with.
"That said, I wouldn’t get in the way of working with some other bigger partners, possibly connecting with more people. Keeping the direction is really important.”
When did you want do this Boy Destroy project? Was there a time when you thought it's time?
“When Warpaint’s lyrics started coming into place, I felt like it was talking from my very broken heart at the time. I was super scared of doing that and feeling how that would be received by my family and friends months before it was released.
"That was a pivotal moment when I thought ‘maybe this is something I can do’. I’d been so scared of it I didn’t know if I would be able to put the music out there. That was really important to me, showing that to people and knowing it was taken well and appreciated for being honest, instead of being belittled for being honest.”
Who are your main influences and inspirations? Either musically or personally.
“Jeff Buckley’s someone I’ve listened to for my entire life, for so many years. It was such a blessing that he got to make Grace and Sketches for my Sweetheart the Drunk demos before he was taken by God.
“I’ve always loved the movies by Werner Herzog. My dad used to show them to me when I was a kid, Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo, all those classics. There’s something about that non-conformist, f*** the rules movie making that I really like.
“Visual art is something I’ve got into more and more during these last few years.”
Do you have a goal that you want to reach with this project? Are you already thinking ahead?
“Music meant so much to me, and art in general. If I could be that force to somebody else and inspire them to do anything, to lose their minds for one night, to talk with their parents for the first time in 10 years, whatever it is, that feels like a life goal for me. If I can reach more than one person, all the better.
" It really boils down to connection. I will always be making music, with or without an audience, and I’m very lucky to have an audience now.”
Boy Destroy’s Warpaint EP is out now via Loyalty Obsession
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