What started as Teen Dreamz—a performance based DIY duo that consisted of Jae Matthews and Augustus Muller—gave birth to Boy Harsher; an industrial synth band with electro-goth-trance influence and poignant vocals that has been slaying the underground music scene with their gritty live performances at venues notorious for their hard-to-please crowds.
Following the success of a cassette EP released by Night-People and a 12″ single for Oráculo, Boy Harsher recently signed with DKA, an underground record label set to issue their debut LP, Yr Body Is Nothing on May 20.
Matthews and Muller are “an item.” They’ve been through it all; they’ve hurt each other and helped one another—bleeding their journey into their craft in the process.
How did you guys meet?
GM: We were both going to film school in Savannah. Jae was working on a film and I was doing production design on it.
JM: I was 24 and Gus was 23. Gus was living in my attic at the time and we bonded initially from being somewhat lonely and lost. I love to tell people how I crushed hard on Gus after seeing him dance to Bizarre Love Triangle. I love watching people dance.
Can you describe your sound in your own words? What are some of your influences?
GM: The instruments in our sound are more textural than musical. I approach composition from more of a sound design standpoint. We reference Yello a lot. Their album Stella has such a classic EBM sound, but is something completely unique and extremely cinematic. We reference films a lot too. I love the work of Michael Haneke, Gaspar Noé, and Claire Denis. The mood they convey is so visceral and haunting.
JM: Claire Denis’ film, The Bastards was scored by Tindersticks. The sound is great; really dark and evocative, but poppy. I love it. I am into pop scores like, To Live or Die in LA. Wang Chung’s score adds this dynamic, weird level to an already pretty weird film.
What was the catalyst that gave birth to the idea of scored read-alouds—the concept behind Teen Dreamz?
JM: I had written all these poems and short stories when Gus and I first met. I wanted to perform some of them to an audience. I have always been very interested in performance art. I work in film, so this was a cool way to finally explore a form of performance where you are actually confronted with the audience.
GM: I think the catalyst was that we were coming from a film background and we wanted to do something visual but expand that so we started playing around with music. We went from storytelling into making music. Our first couple of shows included projections Jae made.
You toured with Profligate in 2015, how did your collaboration come about?
JM: Boy Harsher began in Savannah and was very influenced by the South. That’s where Noah saw us perform for the first time. Noah has mentored us in many ways. When we are unsure of certain things, he is usually the first person we’ll ask.
What are you afraid of? Are your fears communicated in your music?
JM: I think so. The more sexy songs are about how fear is connected with desire. The Song, “Big Bad John” is a pop dance song about a villain/slasher killer/kidnapper. The song “The Realness” is about fleeing rejection first. There is the fear that you will be left behind, so in order to avoid it you walk away first. We sometimes have to be distant in order to protect ourselves. It’s tricky and difficult to be yourself. I fall in love all the time, but it’s mostly just me hurting myself.
Where did you record Lesser Man, can you describe your process?
GM: We do most of the recording at home. Lesser Man was made with very cheap gear and a computer I bought with a credit card so we could record it.
JM: The majority is done at home—a lot of fighting, mostly by me. I go through a range of real shit emotions when working.
What’s the thesis of this album? Can you describe it in one sentence?
JM: Trying to find the connection between fear and desire.
You mentioned “confessional storytelling” as a way to communicate your sound. Please expand on your biggest confession in this record.
JM: The biggest confession in the record is the fear of not being the right person. Sometimes fear does make things exciting in a way and it makes the experience of love multifaceted—like this schizophrenic experience of finding ‘your role’ with your lovers, authority figures, family. Each song represents a different person that I can become—coy, fearful, or monstrous. We all have the ability to be fucked up, terrible people. If you are willing to accept yourself as a scary person, that’s a powerful thing.
Can you tell us what your future collaborations will look like?
JM: We are hoping to make a short film that works with our music and we want to put out another tape, hopefully at the end of this year.
What is this year looking like for BOY HARSHER?
JM: We’re going to Baltimore to do some more recordings with our friend Jordan (Shy Violet). I’m excited to see what that collaboration brings.
Do you have an album release show date planned?
JM: We are playing a really great show at The Silent Barn in Brooklyn on May 28th. It’s a late night show and we are playing with one of my favorite bands: Troller. It’s going to be really amazing.