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Six years ago, Jae Matthews and Augustus Muller from Northampton, Massachusetts (US) started making music together. Teen Dreamz was the name of their first band, from which the dark-wave/minimal-synth duo Boy Harsher emerged in 2014. The name change brought international success: several EPs, a sinister sounding club hit called Pain and the debut album Yr Body Is Nothing followed. New video clips were released in October and December 2018 and now it's going on. Careful, their brand new longplayer, is going to be released on February 1st, 2019. This is followed by a tour with several concerts in Germany and other European countries.
While writing their new songs, Jae and Gus suffered some setbacks. The Look You Gave (Jerry), one of the new tracks, is named after Jae's stepfather who died shortly before her mother became ill with dementia. To what extent these sad incidents had an impact on the new Boy Harsher album, Jae and Gus talk about in the interview – and, above all, about the positive things the future holds for them. An already sold out show at Berlin's famous Berghain club, for example.

Your new album is announced for February 1st. Why did you call it Careful?
Jae: Careful resonated with us, to tread lightly, be patient. We’ve had a tough two years and it’s become a practiced mantra for us.

Experiences of love, pain and loss influenced your new songs. What happened?
Jae: Halfway through writing Careful my stepfather died, which changed our lives. I spent a lot of time examining tenderness, loss, and craving escape.

What does music and making music mean for you personally in these and other situations?
Gus: I’m not really sure. It’s a big part of my life though.
Jae: With all the stress and everything, performing is quite freeing. Although there is anxiety within touring, it’s so great to get to play and celebrate this stuff with everyone.

Your sounds are danceable, but also gloomy and dark. To what extent does this reflect your own personalities?
Gus: I’m moody and I love to dance!
Jae: I can be pretty somber, Gus is the upbeat one.


Many of your songs have an undeniable 80s touch. What fascinates you about this decade?
Gus: I’m obsessed with how successful the minimalism is with 80s music. It’s really a masterclass of what can be done with a drum machine and a couple of synths.

Were music and art in general, broadly speaking, more sophisticated or meaningful in those days?
Gus: Definitely not. Art and music is constantly evolving.

You can judge it well, because you're good in music as well as in films. Could you give us some details about your film background and how it affects your music?
Gus: I got into filmmaking during my last year in high school. I got the idea to move to Austin, Texas and start working on movies. I messed around down there for a while, then moved to Savannah, Georgia for college. Sound design and score were always a big part of my film projects.
Jae: I want our music to be atmospheric – to evoke feeling, certain cryptic landscapes. For the sound to be visual, like film.

David Lynch is one of your favourite directors, as far as I know. 
Jae: I love Lynch, yes.

Boy Harsher 2018 3
Why?
Jae: Lost Highway is such a wild story. It’s totally cryptic, I love it.

What do you like most about him and his work?
Gus: I’m drawn to directors who can tell a story in unconventional ways. David Lynch can convey so much with just sound design. He makes some fucked emotion tangible.

The same can be said about your videos for the new songs Fate and Face The Fire. What's the idea behind the latter?
Gus: I always pictured a sun setting on the beach when I heard the track. Even when we were writing it. We were listening to Fay by Larry Brown in the car and the idea of a runaway inspired us – we wanted to incorporate the two.

The video features the well known model Sara Cummings. Where do you know her from?
Jae: Sara came to see us in New York, she was so kind and a fan. We talked about having her in a video and she was into it. When our beach runaway idea came about, we knew Sara would be perfect.


Meanwhile you're also running your own label Nude Club Records. How did that come about?
Gus: Our first two albums were released in very small batches on DIY labels and sold out. We had some tours coming up, so we had the idea to re-release them ourselves. The re-release worked out, so we decided to try it out for the new album Careful.

From February on you'll be on tour in Europe again. What are you mostly looking forward to?
Jae: Our reception in Europe is totally bonkers, so positive. Feeling so lucky.
Gus: Touring europe is a real privilege. I feel honored just to play over there at all. With that said, we’re also playing a sold out show at Berghain. That will be insane!

Not long to wait now. On March 5 you'll play at Berlin's most famous club. Have you ever been there before?
Gus: Never been. I've only heard stories!

Sven Marquardt, the bouncer, is almost as famous as the club itself. It'll surely be fun chilling around with him, won't it?
Jae: I cannot wait to meet Sven.

Apart from that, what else will be important for you this year?
Jae: I don't think we know yet.
Gus: We’re hitting the road for about two months, so just focusing on surviving that.


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Photos: Nedda Afsari


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