Truancy Volume 86: Boya

Boya hasn’t put out much, but he’s caught the attention of some of the biggest names in electronic music right now, what with a feature on an Opal Tapes compilation and getting airplay from the mighty Ben UFO on the Hessle Rinse show. This week he put out an EP on Mister Saturday Night, and to coincide with that release he’s graced us with the latest entry to our Truancy Volume mix series. We sat down with him an a small cafe in Dublin’s Temple Bar and chatted about the intimate nature of making music and why he’s feeling very laidback about his career.

Stream: Boya – The Boya EP (Mister Saturday Night)

I was googling Boya and I came upon the following entries on Urban Dictionary: To spend time in doors, with out being outside for hours on end, smoking pot and playing video games, and in Arab language it means that a girl is acting like guys and dressing like them. “They wouldn’t be the inspiration for it, but they’re pretty good consequences.” Where did it come from? “I don’t really know. There’s a film called Boy A, it’s quite a strange film about John Venables, it’s like a fictionalised version of it, and I thought it was a nice little phrase. That was one thing, and I always liked the sound of the club night Hoya Hoya. I like ending on ‘ya’ for some reason. It’s not really from anything.”

So you’re from Cavan then? “Well I was born there. I moved to Dublin when I was six or seven.” So you’d think of yourself as a Dub then? “Yeah. I grew up in Rathgar and moved to Rathmines.” Was it in school that you got into music? “Yeah, it would have been in the last year, I was doing a bit of study and got really bored, and I downloaded Ableton and then just started messing around with it to kill time really, cause it was so boring that year. It sort of developed from there really. It basically out of being bored and 17 and having nothing else to do.” Were you already into dance music? “No, not at all. I played in bands before from the age of 12 to 16, towards maybe 17 or 18 I got interested in the Twisted Pepper and going out, a lot of that, stuff that was going on in London at the time, I got into it in a really mish-mash way, pick one thing off the internet and then moving on to another, so it’s not like I’m some dance music specialist. I would never pretend to know the canon or whatever.” What were the bands like? “Kind of more punky, we would have listened to a lot of Four Tet at the time. That kind of post-punk stuff. The only way it’s similar to the Boya stuff is that there’s a lot of live drumming, not very maybe together.”

How did you first get in contact with Daire Carolan from First Second? “I actually don’t know. I presume he messaged me some day, on Soundcloud, Daire being Daire I think I’d bumped into him somewhere. I knew him from around and then he messaged me, one thing led to another and we did that EP. His whole thing has taken off, it’s a bit all over the place but it’s good.” I remember at the time I said it was like Black Dog/90s techno stuff, would that have been influential for you? “I actually really hate those tunes now. I have this problem that I have to delete stuff that I release, I reflect on it and I reflect on it in a bad way. A lot of the problems I have with listening back to stuff is that I’m still developing so much, it’s a craft, so I’ve only got to a certain point, and at that point I was only 18 and it’s not something that I want to be out there. But it was really good to do. It was a good point to get to, and it was good for motivation to get going.”

From there, your music has changed a bit, the sound is different. Has that just happened along the way? “I don’t know if this is true or not, but I started making stuff on a Toshiba and I switched because it broke and I bought a Mac, and after that everything started sounding much clearer, I’m not sure if that was because of the change, I certainly tried to change, it was very muddled, some of the sounds, sometimes that was intentional and sometimes it was out of ignorance, and not being able to use the program properly. A lot of the stuff I do wouldn’t be intentional, it’s very stream of consciousness, sitting in a bit of a trance, quite late at night.”

You haven’t put out much at all, but last year you had a track on an Opal Tapes compilation. How did you get in contact with Stephen [Bishop, aka Opal Tapes boss Basic House]? “I think it was through Soundcloud again, he emailed me about doing a tape, we were talking about it and it then it never happened, the only thing I ended up doing was the compilation. That’s happened to me a few times, I think I want to do something, I get four or five tracks together that I really like, and it doesn’t come together, or I get a bit frustrated with it. It does take me a long time to decide, okay, these are good, and I’m constantly changing my mind, which is a good thing, but I wouldn’t want to continue doing it forever.”

You’ve had a similar path to fellow Dub Gareth Smyth, aka Lumigraph – you both started with First Second, you’ve both done things with Opal Tapes and now you’re both on Mister Saturday Night. How did you get in contact with Mister Saturday Night? “That was the same again – it’s pretty boring! Justin Carter messaged me on Soundcloud – I put up these two long mixes of stuff I did in one sitting, and I think he liked one of them and he asked me to send more, and that begun a process of constantly sending him music. The whole thing went on for maybe a year and a half. I had been talking to Anthony Naples online, and I think he showed them the tracks, or they found them themselves, and Anthony had been emailing Gareth. The Mister Saturday Night thing was really weird, because I had watched a lot of those Mister Sunday videos on YouTube and I thought ‘oh this is a really cool thing in New York’, and then they messaged me and I was really taken aback by it. It was out of nowhere, which was nice. Then after that we just started this incredibly long process of finding out what I’d want to release, and what they would think would fit their label. I think it took particularly long because I’d send them two things and it wasn’t enough, and two weeks later I’d send them more stuff and it was completely different, so it kept going on like that.”

What was it that brought you to this housier place? The first second one was 4/4, but it was very abstract, the phrases weren’t in a solid structure and the music was quite hazy, whereas this stuff is a lot more focused. “I think a lot of the tracks that I made up until last Christmas were like the First Second one, I think it was through Mister Saturday Night that it was like, okay, this is the label that I’m going to release on, it was for a record, also the stuff that i was listening to started to change. I got into that whole London scene in 2009/2010, Four Tet and Caribou. There Is Love In You and Swim are the two things that I really loved at that time, that’s the stuff that stayed with me. I can’t explain it, I think it’s like this. number one because, it was for Mister Saturday Night and they have to put out a record that people are going to listen to on a dancefloor, and it’ll work for people to play. It’s more that a lot of the stuff that I make only works in particular settings, I have to augment that a little. It’s more of a focus. A lot of the stuff that I have on my computer, you couldn’t play it in front of people. It’s like a little segment of time. That might be the way I was making things for one week, and then it changed. It’s not for functional reasons but it’s also for the label. over that year and a half they were emailing me like ‘oh this is good, we don’t really like this’, so the focus was from working with them.” Have you had a chance to meet them? “They came last January in the Bernard Shaw. We went for dinner, it’s funny meeting someone that you’ve emailed for so long. They’ve got really good music taste, obviously I’d say that, but they’ve managed to keep people interested in the label and the party, obviously it’s pretty trendy as well. I think I’m going to go over in March, I’ve been trying to go over for a year, but it’s really expensive, and it’s hard to know whether to go over for a holiday or to work. I’ll probably go over for two weeks and play.”

What’s your thing now, do you play live or DJ? “I just play records. I started playing live, which was weird. I started playing live, just pressing play on Ableton, it was a bit of a joke. Some of the funniest times I’ve had with Daire have been standing in the Twisted Pepper with my Toshiba breaking, and people looking around because it’s flicking in and out. It was a good way to start, because I had no experience apart from being in the band.” Especially if you were playing drums, so you’re literally in the background. “Yeah, although in the Twisted Pepper cafe there’s not that much pressure. But it also gave a bit of humour. I really can’t stand people who’ve got this frown on their face. That’s one of the things that I became a bit disillusioned with, the clubbing experience. Becoming so stuck in a small little part of music which is good for certain situations. I know everyone says this but I would try and listen to everything that I can. I would be turned off someone who wouldn’t be open to playing a set of different types of music. That’s why I love Floating Points so much. I know that can become a ‘thing’ but I don’t think you can encapsulate that in a little trend. Obviously then you can be too wide ranging, and nobody wants to listen to you. I really would be bored out of my mind going to a techno set and having 4/4 the whole time.”

And you taught yourself to DJ? “I bought Technics and then Serato, and then last year I sold my Serato to these Nigerian DJs. I needed money for the summer. Now it’s being used in some Nigerian night in town. I find playing with records a bit easier because you’re stuck with them. With Serato you could have 10,000 tunes. The only thing that I don’t like is that they’re made from oil. I’m a bit green [laughs]. I was talking to my friend about 3D printing. I like playing records though. A good example is that I like CDs in a car, I think vinyl works in a club. But I don’t really care, it’s just a personal preference. But if I go to see someone play I want to hear something I haven’t heard before, or that I don’t recognise or that’s put in a new context. That’s what keeps you interested. That’s what would have happened me when I was younger, they way that dubplate thing developed in London and people putting stuff on YouTube, and looking for stuff, I think that’s brilliant it’s the modern equivalent of what people did with tapes and recording radio.” I was just saying last night that the likes of NTS, Rinse and Subcity have really got me back into radio lately. “Four years ago radio for me was RTE One or Lyric fm that my parents would listen to, it was more of a novelty. I think they’ve really done well to bring that whole thing forward.” Twitter shout-outs and all that. Speaking of Rinse, you got a play last night from Ben UFO. Were you listening at the time? “Yes, I happened to be listening last night. I kind of recognised this tune coming in, I was like ‘Awh, yes!’ Sitting on my couch I brought my laptop up to my face. It’s a justification of all the hours you put in. Someone like him… I was looking at Don’t Be Afraid’s Twitter and they said that that whole show is the continuation of the spirit of Jon Peel’s show on BBC and I’d agree with that. I was really, really happy that he played it!”

We were talking about Basic House earlier, he put one of your tracks in his Blowing Up The Workshop mix. “That’s one that I’ve come back to, I’m going to edit it. I like the start of it, I think it could be made into a good tune.” Would it fit on Opal Tapes? “I was interested in doing it but he releases so much, and if I was going to send him something it would have to be really good, and I’m not sure I have anything that he’d like. I love the new Oneohtrix Point Never album, I’ve done some ambient tracks that would be more on the melodic end of things, less texturey. I’ll have a few of those in the mix for you. If I’m doing a mix I really like making tracks for it. I’ve done a few edits. It’ll mostly be my own stuff, maybe Gareth and Morgan’s stuff, but it’ll be mostly mine. [To be honest] I don’t like the internet for music. It’s been so beneficial for me, but I find it almost cringey, almost like showing a video to your class.” Have you ever heard of the bad ears? It’s when I play a song for someone and all I can hear is everything that could conceivably be bad about it. And all of a sudden I’m really self-conscious about you not liking a song that I like, so if it’s something that you’ve made yourself it must be completely amplified. “That’s perfect. Making a piece of music is such a private experience up to a point, and then it’s almost like an invasion of your privacy. And I love it, on one level, but then in another way you do become very self-conscious of it. Then again I’m not some cowering shadow in a darkened room in Rathmines! I think it’s good to reflect on it as well, but too much reflection, I’ve listened to the Mister Saturday Night stuff too much, you shouldn’t listen to your stuff too much, it can have a bad effect. I’m fond of the tracks, I’m proud of them, but I’ve listened to them too many times.”

Did you know there’s a graphic designer called Boya? “There’s also an Israeli youth association. I was a bit worried about was the grime MC from London, Boya Dee, he’s written in The Guardian. The name, it’s just so inconsequential. In a year or two if I thought it was silly I’d change it. I’ve no connection to a brand or anything.” You seem pretty laidback about everything. “I have to be. If I tried to control this and make it contrived I’d have to stop. Also it’s not that big, it’s not Miley Cyrus, like a worldwide brand. I’m just this guy who’s putting music out on a label. I think that’s a healthy attitude to have. I’m confident in what I do but I’m not interested in coming across as it’s a brand or this is a permanent fixture. It’s a very simple thing if you think about it. The ‘Valve’ track was made in my bed, I missed a lecture in college and I finished the track. To put it in context, you know those guys that run Numero Group and Test Pressing. There’s this scene of people who are diggers and make edits, there’s a real humility to it because they’re sampling. I really like their humility towards music, you’re in such a privileged position to be able to make music and put it on the internet, and have people follow it. I really like that unassuming take on things. It definitely comes from the idea of the guy who looks through a load of records and is a real nerd about it, and the influences come through in the music he or she makes, and then you do have a sense of humility around it. You’re indebted to a lot of people. I really like that Personal Space compilation on Numero Group, all these old private recordings in the 70s and 80s, kind of electronic soul. I really like that idea of it being a really personal thing. It’s more honest to be like ‘I just made this music, I’m putting it out there’.”

What’s your drink of choice? “Peppermint tea.” And when was the last time you danced? “I danced in my house to this Leon Lowman record that’s out on Music From Memory, it’s a reissue. And I dance like a dad when I listened to it.”

Truancy Volume 86 – Boya by TRUANTS

Chung-Han Yao – Untitled
Pharoah Sanders – Morning Prayer
Leon Lowman – Liquid Diamonds
Bullion – Collision
Sade – Paradise (Apiento Edit)
Pharaohs – Island Time
Maxmillion Dunbar – Ice Room Graffiti
Joe – Slope
Jahiliyya Fields- Aeon Anon
Young Marco – Nonono
Dreams Unlimited – Deep In You (L.T.J. Club Mix)
Newworldaquarium ‎- Trespassers
Seaboard Coastliners – Dance Dance All Night Long
Ströer – Don’t Stay for Breakfast
Erkki Kurenniemi – Sähkösoittimen Ääniä # 1
Kassem Mosse – Staat Aus Glas
Boya – Knees
Elgato – Music (Body Mix)
Boya – Dawn Corner

Aidan Hanratty
Aidan Hanratty

Dublin ... @adnhnrt | @Bandcloud

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