In Conversation With…LOSTBOYCROW

The free-spirited city of Los Angeles awakened something in Lostboycrow that hadn’t existed before; a synthesis of creation soon began. Now three years in, the artist is ready to unleash a debut album. Conscious to current culture but fuelled primarily by a desire to release a larger work, the album will be a joining together of three parts. Each part, an individual Legend that will contain various singles alongside a collection of further unreleased material.

Newest arrival ‘All My Lives at Once’ provides many firsts for the artist – stylistically, it ventures into hip hop territory, whilst lyrically, it shares lived truths and a romanticism of the nostalgic. The music video fills in a few of the blanks: Visualising the story of a rollercoaster emotional journey, and actualising the bittersweet feeling within the lyrics.

As the closing chapter to the Second Legend nears, Bitter Sweet Symphonies speaks to Lostboycrow about the journey so far, the positives of collaboration, and why ‘All My Lives at Once’ is the important step forward.

‘All My Lives at Once’ is the third song to be released from the second Legend – and arguably the most definitive and landmark out of the three. Was the process of making this track different from the rest?

Yes actually, it was. Hopefully it comes across… I’ve been able to spend the past year, but [also] past couple of years working with different people. Obviously a few that I really trust like Dylan William and Maro, and a couple of others, so I’ve kind of been able to narrow that circle down to like three or four people that I absolutely love to work with, and know that I can get my vision across. Then this last fall was really a time when I wanted to make something a little more cohesive, than perhaps I had before, and so I started combining my favourite people to work with.

“I started working with my buddy Realmiilk, we did ‘Spin the Globe’ together, and then I was like “Ok what would happen if I got Realmiilk and Maro – who I’ve done many things with – in a room together” because they both bring out such a side of me that feels so limitless and creative, and unique to me. So the three of us got in a room together, and that was really the first time I’ve tried anything like that, because I usually work one-on-one, so the three of us got in a room and made ‘All My Lives at Once’.

“It happened very naturally, I mean, it was just us experimenting and me feeling like the music was finally matching up with where my mind was. I feel lyrically, it’s also a [slightly] different side of me as well, that I was happy to get across. It was triumphant and new, and we’ve done that a little bit more since. There’ll be some more from the three of us on the next Legend as well, but it was just an experiment really, and I was really happy with it.”

Can you tell us more about the studio sessions for ‘All My Lives at Once’? The track has a real vibe to it and the vocals especially feature some strong intense moments, I wonder if the environment when this take was captured fed into this at all…

“We were working out of the same studio that my EP was made in, and many [of the songs] that I’ve done with Maro like ‘Real Name,’ ’Love Won’t Sleep’ and ‘Powers’. So we were out in Woodland Hills at the studio, and it’s always been a secluded place  – it’s on the side of a hill, it’s a little bit hard to get to, so once you’re there, you’re like really there, and you have to just be committed to staying there all day. It’s always fun to go there, but obviously like I said, this time we had Realmiilk with us and I think that was the biggest thing, just adding that element… taking the pressure off of any specific one of us to come up with something, and being able to throw paint at the wall and bounce ideas off each other so fluidly. There’s something special about three people because there’s always one person that can be objectively deciding, or [giving objective feedback] like “No you’re both right,” “Nah, you’re both wrong, Let’s do this”.  I think honestly just the magic number of the three of us working together, and for [it to be] the first time, we were just all so eager and excited really.

“And like I’ve said, people have brought out very different sides of me in previous songs, and so this time we just instantly caught a vibe. We started working with this analogue synth that was in the studio, which we had never used it before. Those sounds, I feel, kind of dictated where my thoughts went immediately, and maybe the soulfulness and the rawness that I hope comes across started with that analogue synth.”

I would like to take a minute to discuss the cast featured in the film clip for ‘All My Lives at Once’, as up to this point we had never seen such a large scale production for a Lostboycrow video. Can you talk us through the reasons why you chose to elevate the visual side of creation with this track in particular?

“The beautiful part about that video is that there are so many factors that went into it and just kind of, aligned. It is the largest scale production that we’ve done video-wise, but it was really the most natural to do, for us. We filmed it up in a reserve just outside of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada on Enoch Cree Nation – and that’s a place that I’ve been going to for the past couple of summers, some of my closest friends are from that place, and when I started working with Sam Miller… who’s a good friend of mine, he’s been directing videos like ‘Real Name’ and ‘Devil’s in the Backseat’.

“He and I both love doing location shoots and obviously we really wanted to do one that’s very much out of our element, and it just worked out. So really it was me going up there and living for a month, working with my friends and second family  – and Sam on the phone, months before, with Tarene [Thomas] who is the lead actress [in the video] basically just letting her tell her life [so that we can work] that into a treatment for the video. So it felt totally natural, everybody up there [except for] a couple of people like Tarene – who’s acted a lot before, she’s very talented – everybody else is pretty much playing themselves. I hope that came across, because honestly that’s just what it was. We just wanted to take a slice out of this place, with these people, and this amazing girl in particular.

“So yeah, it felt really special. Obviously we had a great team – like Sam, who was able to write that treatment and shoot it in such a way that it felt very natural and true to the environment and our friends.”

The debut album will be released in three parts, each making an individual ‘Legend’. It’s a fascinating method of releasing a body of work, and a smart way to casually introduce new styles to the fan base – what drove your thinking to exhibit your music in this format?

“Really it was a combination of where I was at. I think going into the fall and the winter of this last year [2016], with the exception of one EP, we’ve just been releasing singles, and it had started being received well on Spotify and such. So we were at this junction were we [knew] we want to keep doing what we’re doing – these playlists and these singles are really allowing us to do things like tour, and grow in a very interesting, unique way that I think the music industry hasn’t seen before. And so, we were happy with that obviously but as an artist, I grew up listening to albums and I kind of fell back in love with albums again last year. Which may or may not sound obvious but there aren’t a tonne of great albums necessary being made, and I kind of rediscovered the beauty of a body of work  – a collection of thoughts which string together  – with Frank Ocean releasing ‘Blonde,’ and just diving back into some older stuff as well.

“So I was at this junction of those two things and I was like “Yeah okay I get that we want to keep releasing singles and doing videos for singles and telling the story that way, but just so you all know, I am thinking of a bigger picture.” I think that it just puts my mind at ease, as an artist, to be able to connect all these things and these thoughts and these themes visually, lyrically, and otherwise by making it an album in three parts that then are digested.

“As like the EPs, we can continue to release a few songs individually from each one and tell the story that way but each EP will set up the next and people will be able to see, hopefully more clearly, how this story of me is growing. Not only lyrically but musically as well  – like with ‘All My Lives at Once,’ it was something that I felt, at this point, would be the best way to show the progression of who I am and all those sides. It just made sense to me and yeah, now we’re doing it. [Laughs] I hope people like it.”

Yeah I think it’s a great idea, I’ve been really enjoying it. It’s great to just have a little burst here and there, and then specifically with this project, for the songs to then make up a larger body of work and for us, as listeners, to have travelled on that journey with these songs up to that point, it’s really special. It’s a great way to really connect with an artist’s vision and the music itself. For me, that’s how I see it anyway.

No… I’m glad to hear that because honestly that’s the idea behind it. You know, I can only know how I feel and everything else outside of that is really me just guessing. For me, it meant a lot to be able to again, release songs as singles but let people know that I’ve been thinking of this all last year and all this year. These songs are very connected, there are a lot of threads weaving in and out of them, and I just wanted people to know that. Being able to call the project ‘Traveler’ and have these Legend’s, it just helps me convey what I would want to convey, and what I would listen for in an artist – which is, are they thinking outside of just individual songs? Even though, I’m releasing individual songs [also]. I hope that’s what people see, that they feel like this is all part of Lostboycrow and this is all part of the journey.”

I was looking at the cover art for ‘Spin the Globe,’ ‘Missing London,’ and ‘All My Lives at Once’, and I noticed that each incorporate subtle identifiers that run throughout each artwork, without losing their own individual identity. In your mind, what does the progression of the artwork in these three tracks represent?

“So the first group of songs on the First Legend were obviously a little different as well – it was a different colour, with more pinks, a little brighter like the songs, and there were trees involved. To me that represented the vivaciousness of new inspiration, and new love, a kind of ‘us against the world’ feeling, very full of life and bull-headed and strong. The trees, to me, represented wind in a visual way — like getting carried away, the beginning of something.

“With the Second Legend, it’s been a little bit darker, a kind of colder purple/blue with mountains involved, and for me that represents what this Legend is about. Being at the top of this precipice, like on this mountain, metaphorically or otherwise, looking back and being very nostalgic and then also towards the end of the Legend, looking forward to whatever the next part of the journey is. So to me, the colour represents that, and the shapes and the mountains represent that kind of nostalgic overcoming, but also the perspective that we often get with nostalgia and romanticising something. So yeah, the next Legend will be a different colour and a different element.”

The recent music videos have all been directed by Sam Miller, what is about Sam’s vision that inspires you to continue creating together?

“Sam was one of the first people I met when I started doing Lostboycrow. Again every person involved in my journey nothing has been coincidence, I met him because he was living with Dylan William at the time, and so we became friends through that – simultaneously he was actually managing Dylan William, which he still does, and so with Dylan and I making so much music together and being in the same house all the time, we kind of just developed this connection and a real appreciation for each other. Sam is a wearer of many hats – he’s the frontman of a band (that tours and makes albums, and makes amazing music) he’s a manager, and then yeah, I guess a year ago, maybe more he was like I want to direct films and videos. I should mention that he’s also a published writer as well, and novelist.

“He’s such a talented guy with lots of vision, who actually finishes his ideas and makes things come to fruition, so when he told me that, I was excited to maybe experiment with someone who I was already very close with and that I knew appreciated my music, who just wanted to tell stories as much as I did. And I’ve definitely found that in Sam. We go back – and he’s just one the greatest storytellers that I know, and as a director it’s the most important part. He just gets human beings, he gets how to bring out the best in them, creatively – it’s always fun on set but it’s always very focussed. Very very focussed, every second, every detail is written out, there’s also room for a lot of magic as well with someone as creative as him.

“We’ve learned to trust each other through good friendship and since [he’s started directing] we’ve been able to help each other tell stories in that way, and I just love working with him. So it’s nice to know I can always go to him, and I’ve shown him the Third Legend already and we’re brainstorming on that, so it’s nice to be able to have that with someone.”

Collaboration continues to be an integral part of the Lostboycrow journey, what is it that you get from working with others that you can’t quite obtain from working alone?

“Honestly my creative process kind of varies. I really enjoy and take pride in writing my lyrics and melodies, and sometimes I’ll come with a full song into the studio but it’ll be on the guitar. Sometimes I’ll just come with a few words, or just a concept, just a title even – but stepping into the studio with any one of those things, even just the smallest idea, like I said, or maybe I have the whole thing done. Taking that to someone else that you trust, it just allows the song new life – and I think that you don’t get bored with it, you don’t get as frustrated with it and you allow yourself to then take all the pressure off, and be like “Ok I have this idea, now why don’t Realmiilk and I mess with the sound because I’ve just been writing this on the guitar or whatever” and that opens up a whole universe of emotion that can evoke totally new lyrics, new melodies, new concepts. So, whether it’s coming with a ‘full song idea’ or just a title of a song, going to someone I trust – and that’s what I think I’ve been most fortunate with, as I do have those few people that I trust with my babies – going to them, it allows us a second wind. To then completely give new life to your ideas and your song through that collaboration, again with someone you know and you trust with your ideas.”

The second Legend will be released soon – from what we can piece together so far the collection is mainly focussed on emotional obstacles and the urge to overcome. Of all the tracks still to be heard, will the narratives continue to centre on these themes?

“Absolutely, I feel like all the singles so far have very much been leading up to that and I think ‘All My Lives at Once’ was kind of the heart and soul of that. The last two tracks ‘If I Change’ and ‘Vanessa’ are really kind of the epitome of that as well – the questioning of where you’re at, and yourself, and what you’ve been through, and if you’ve made the right choice and then realising that it’s not really about that, it’s about appreciating those moments for what they were and not forgetting them as you move forward into the next chapter, into the next Legend, into the next journey.

“So I definitely think ‘If I Change’ and ‘Vanessa’ touch on that, in different ways. ‘Vanessa’ is a little more melancholy but I think they both definitely touch on that.”

Obviously the other element to the music is the live shows, and you’re just about to head out on tour. How do you plan on introducing the new material into the set?

“It’s been really fun, and it has definitely been a challenge [with] releasing so much music in, I guess, a short span of time over the past several months. It’s been a challenge but we’ve been able to incorporate a lot of the new music into the set and this being our first headlining tour –and it being called the ‘Spin the Globe’ tour –and having a little bit more ownership over this, and being able to play a longer set to begin with, it has been really fun to know and to play with.

“We’ve been able to make a set that is twice as long as we’ve been able to do in the past, and include things like ‘Spin the Globe’ and ‘Missing London,’ ‘If I Change’ and ‘All My Lives at Once’ –  this new side of me that I am really proud of and can’t wait to show. It’s always a challenge to try and fit a bunch of songs… you know new ones and old ones into a set, and make it flow, but I think we’ve absolutely been able to do that, and I can’t wait to take these ones out on the road because ultimately that’s what it’s all about. That’s what I think of when I’m recording vocals in the studio, like “Ok how’s it going to be singing this to crowds? And is this what I want to sing, more nights out of the year, than not?” These songs really are. So I’m excited to take the show on the road.”

Lostboycrow’s ‘Spin the Globe’ tour runs through October and November, kicking off in Seattle at Barboza and culminating at Troubadour in Los Angeles. Tickets are available here.

Find Lostboycrow on Facebook and Twitter.

Charlotte Holroyd
Editor, Creator and Founder of Bitter Sweet Symphonies. A lover of music and cinema, who's constantly attending gigs and in search of a great experience.

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