I Think I Hate It Here // Boyish (Q&A)

Returning back to the release circle is one of my favorite alternative duos to date, Boyish (Claire Altendahl & India Shore), with their newest track off of their upcoming EP My Friend Mica, “I Think I Hate It Here.” This track comes with a spunky music video shot in a boxing gym in NYC, directed by Chase Denton. 

“I Think I Hate It Here” showcases Boyish’s ability to break out of their typical bedroom-pop landscape for a “little punk moment.” This track lives within a distorted almost anxiety-provoking realm, with a unique fuzzy soundscape highlighting lyrics surrounding uncertainties and hopelessness. 

The soundscape pairs perfectly with the meaning behind the song – Altendahl shares, “‘I Think I Hate it Here’ was written after a fight with an ex on a date night at the movies. For a long time, I had been very anxious in movie theaters, and this particular fight was about how their anxiety ruined the night. The song is about feeling like you can’t match what someone wants from you. I always have had this deep fear that the more anxious someone realizes I am, the more turned off they will be. I feel like sometimes I can’t do normal things that other people like to do on dates, so this song comes from a place of feeling undateable. It’s like the build-up of a lifetime of feeling like you’re missing out on the little things, into one big burst of energy, but really behind it all there’s a lot of self-doubt and insecurity.”

Along with this release, I had the pleasure of getting the chance to speak with Boyish even during their busy schedule and learn more about their artistry. 

Q&A

Samantha: Hi guys! How are you doing today?

Both: Fantastic!

Samantha: When did you both first start making music and what inspired you to start your careers as artists in the music industry?

Claire: India and I have very different musical origin stories. My dad played guitar in a country band while I was growing up, and I thought that was the coolest thing you could possibly do. Every 4th of July, the drummer in my dad’s band had a jam session at his cabin in northern Minnesota, and it became my goal to take over as the drummer of his band instead. I started drumming when I was six until I got a guitar for my 9th birthday. I think I always knew I wanted to be a musician and played in a bunch of bands in high school. Since I’m from Minnesota, I felt like I had to go to music school to make the connections I needed to make a living playing music. 

India: I didn’t start making music until high school. I grew up as a competitive gymnast, and that pretty much took up all of my time. Right before high school started, I got super injured and had to quit. I had always loved music, so I auditioned for LaGuardia High School, which is a performing arts high school in New York, and I got in. There, I was classically trained and learned music theory. During my sophomore year, I started writing my own music and really fell in love with the indie scene and knew that was what I wanted to make.

Samantha: How did you meet each other? When did you realize you wanted to make music together?

Claire: We met a couple weeks into our freshman year of college at Berklee College of Music. India was auditioning for a songwriter’s showcase and needed a guitar player. I was friends with her roommate at the time and she linked us together. We failed the audition but figured we’d keep writing and working together because of this open mic night nearby. This restaurant would give you a free burrito if you performed, so that’s how we fed ourselves every Thursday night. After a couple months of this, we actually hung out outside of the rehearsal space and realized we were going to be best friends.

Samantha: Who were your early musical inspirations and who are they now?

India:Our inspirations have changed a lot. When we first started playing together, we were very into country singers like Margo Price and Nikki Lane and The Civil Wars, though I don’t think that was the type of music we wanted to be making. After college, we got really into Frank Ocean, Lorde, and other artists that use more electronic-based sounds. The pandemic is when we really found our sound though, we were inspired by Phoebe Bridgers, The Replacements, Girl in Red, and Taylor Swift. For this new EP, we still take a lot of inspiration from those same artists and others like Big Thief, PinkPantheress, the 1975, beabadoobee, and more. 

Samantha: How did you come up with the name “Boyish?”

Claire: We named ourselves after the Japanese Breakfast song “Boyish”. We love the line “here we are, we’re just two losers”. Kind of sums us up perfectly.

Samantha: Can you touch on your writing process – do you both have a specific role or is it more of a collaboration between the two of you?  

India: Our writing process is a bit chaotic. For this EP we wrote almost everything together, which is kind of new for us. We usually start with a guitar part – we are really into open tunings, and then will write a melody to it. We both keep lyrics in our Notes app because sometimes a song is inspired by a thought or experience we have randomly written down there. We’re slow songwriters, we like to really sit with something before trying to release it. We’re both insane perfectionists so we can really work ourselves up over the smallest details. 

Samantha: Is there a favorite lyric you guys have ever written?

Claire: My favorite lyric is off of our song “My Friend Mica”. That song was written for the group of friends we have in New York City but is about the realization that we are all growing apart and away from each other. I moved to NYC a year ago, and I’ve changed a lot over this time. I started a new therapy that focuses a lot on your experiences as a kid and how they shape your reactions as an adult. I started writing this song while I was home for the holidays in Minnesota, waiting to get my blood drawn at the doctor, and wrote this line about how I’m afraid of fainting during it. “Part of growing up is, knowing there’s a kid, talking to me from the back of my skull, and it’s still scared of everything, right now it’s seeing stars when the doctor sticks a needle in my arm”. This really sums up the therapy I was doing mixed with the anxiety I’ve struggled with my whole life, and how at the bottom of it all I’m still a kid that’s afraid of so many things.

India: I think my favorite lyric is “By the end, I wanna go home, it’s not there, it looks a lot like you”. It sums up everything about my experience of being this age, and this year of my life. I feel like anytime I’ve ever been anywhere I have this sensation of wanting to go home, even if I am. It’s really jarring when it happens. So much of what feels like home to me is the people around me, and as you grow up the people you share a home with can change. It’s really about longing for things to stop changing so much all the time, but accepting that moving on is a part of life.

Samantha: Can you tell me about your EP My Friend Mica coming out this spring?

India: My Friend Mica is about our past year of living in NYC. Claire moved to the city in February of 2021 and we live in a building with 6 of our best friends. This EP is for them and about how the move has changed us. It’s about friendship, breakups, anxiety disorders, starting over, and moving on. 

Samantha: How has performing live and going on the road been?

Claire: I think I forgot how much I loved performing over the pandemic, it’s been so much fun to be out performing again! Performing is an addicting experience, whenever I finish a show I’m already thinking about the next one. It’s been such a blast bringing these songs to life and being able to feel the way our music transfers into a live environment. We love to put on a rock show with a lot of energy, and can’t wait to perform this new EP live. 

India: I feel the same way! It’s also just so shocking (in a good way) when we go to play shows and people come! Before the pandemic, we played to a lot of empty rooms, so I’m just so overwhelmed and grateful for the past year and get super emotional during every single show we play now. 

Samantha: What can we expect from Boyish in the near future? 

Claire: We are working towards our goal of world domination and getting a tour bus! We are hitting the road in May for a tour with Remo Drive, headlining a show at Elsewhere (Brooklyn) in June, and heading off to Seattle in July for Capitol Hill Block Party! 

Stream “I Think I Hate It Here,” check out the music video, and get ready for My Friend Mica (EP) coming your way very soon!

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