The Upside Down Flower Tour, featuring Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, flor, and Grizfolk, stopped in Austin, Texas, on January 26 at Stubb’s. While the evening was filled with scattered rain showers, fans brought out the rain ponchos and showed up strong to support McMahon.
This story is part of a series of Conversations with Lostboycrow, dedicated to following his path since I first spoke to him in August 2015 and into the future. Read all of the Conversations with Lostboycrow here.
As the first time interviewing Lostboycrow in person, we had the opportunity to work together on a photo shoot throughout downtown Houston. See more from the shoot at the end of the story.
Images and words by Jenna Million.
In Houston, Texas, a few days into part two of his headlining tour Spin the Globe, I sat down with Lostboycrow for another conversation in our series to reflect on how his goals, and his intentions to reach those, have evolved.
The self-released, multi-million streamed artist has come a long way since moving to Los Angeles on his own in 2014. It wasn’t until he met Dylan William, producer and bassist in flor, and started recording that his pent-up creativity started to flow and Lostboycrow was born.
“Suddenly I could put out a song and people on the other side of the world wanted to write about it, even if it was just a few people,” he says. The step between a local artist and an internationally-streamed artist is “such a fine line but such a monumental gap.” Once he had jumped that gap, it was a matter of figuring out what comes next.
At the time, the early days were partly driven by figuring out his art and partly wanting to stay relevant with online publications. “That wasn’t something I was consciously thinking about, but subconsciously and sonically that came through.”
Now Lostboycrow says his work is focused on the question of “How can I dive deeper into me?”
To answer to this question, Lostboycrow set out to Santa Fe in early 2018 with a hand-selected team to work on the next record, with one rule. “I said at the very beginning… The whole point of this trip, even if we don’t finish one song, is just – what planet is Lostboycrow going to live on for this next cycle?”
All of the songs are very intentional, driven by the voice and lyrics rather than trendy production of the music industry. “If your goal is to be intentional in the way that you make art that will come across, despite demands for the consistency with the streaming world,” he says. To Lostboycrow, genuine intention and creativity comes through in songs “that wanted to be written,” rather than force-produced in a studio session.
While the smaller goals have changed from having songs written about, to being intentional with songwriting, the vision – the big end goal – is what drives all of the hard work. Lostboycrow says that those visions are very personal to him.
“I think we all have visions, especially when we open ourselves up to possibilities and to change,” he says. “I wasn’t a very great musician or singer, but I knew enough that I loved this more than anything. I knew I was going to do it, so that when I went through those time of not even [releasing] music… I still knew, because I’d seen it.”
Through our conversation, it’s obvious how important this is to Lostboycrow in the pursuit of his artistry. You have to believe it before you see it. That’s where people get it wrong, but not Lostboycrow.
“I think a lot of times people dismiss their visions as dreams or day dreams, or whatever label society wants to give them. It becomes very dismissive like it’s this fantastical thing that can’t happen. I never got that. I never got why people did that.”
Too often people tell themselves no, or place limitations on themselves, because they don’t believe some crazy visions could be their own reality.
“When you’re [telling yourself no,] you’re automatically comparing yourself. You’re thinking all these societal constraints… [like] ‘I’ve never seen a popstar break at 30 or 40 or 50 or 60,’ but guess what wouldn’t it be fucking cool if you were the first one?”
Lostboycrow says the “obstacles in your mind” present an opportunity to be a pioneer – to be the first popstar to break at 30 or 40 or 50 or 60.
“My word of encouragement to myself and maybe others is – everything negative thing you want to tell yourself about why you can’t do this is, is one reason why you could be the greatest at doing it. Do it despite those things.”
The following is a letter dated June 14 from Lostboycrow as he traveled through Montana. He wrote PopPunkPlease from the road to reflect on being a traveler, and to give us some insight on “The First Legend” of “Traveler“.
This story is part of a series of Conversations with Lostboycrow, dedicated to following his path since I first spoke to him in August 2015 and into the future. Read all of the Conversations with Lostboycrow here.
I am writing this from a Holiday Inn Express on the outskirts of Billings, Montana. The Largest city in the state (with I believe a little over one-hundred thousand residents) and currently home to my most pensive thoughts as I traverse farther and farther away from the perfect routines of my Sherman Oaks Apartment in Los Angeles, and deeper into the familiar expanse of rolling hills and open prairie. I am in Big Sky Country now – and I can’t think of a better place to be.
Despite the howling breeze that sings of storms to come there is a stillness to reflect. Gas stations and every fast-food combination stretch across the 90 headed east. Miles marked by exit signs and eight-hundred numbers for Jesus ; all is swallowed by the vastness of the land leaving only my imagination in tact. It is a dreamers sky. Full of unfinished stories and unwritten songs.
As I continue east in the afterglow of my most recent release, “The First Legend,” I am at home amongst the sea of tall grass and sage that whisper with adventure in the wind. It is the birthplace of songs like “Adolescent,” “HiyHiy,” “Start Something,” and a place that ‘Traveler’ has gathered much from as I embark on this next chapter. Sonically…lyrically…visually… It’s good to be back. Back and moving forward on the road to somewhere.
It’s funny how things can come full circle, and I’ve found so often do in songwriting. In the fall of 2014 I recorded four songs with a great producer who would later become an even greater friend, Dylan William. Those songs ? “Good or Bad,” “Adolescent,” “HiyHiy” and “Nobody Knows.” The latter spending most of its life in buried inboxes and private SoundCloud links until I began to carve out “The First Legend.” As I finished songs like “Verona” and “Traveler” it became clear to me that the first part of this album was meant to capture the unwavering even defiant bravado of newly discovered feelings. And chasing them to whatever end. “Nobody Knows” was the perfect anthem for the middle of a good adventure. Still lost in the certainty (and sanctity) of romance and running happily toward the unknown.
The unknown. Where the real magic lives. From the palms of Ventura Blvd to the ancient pines of the Black Hills, it breathes life into art. As I’ve continued to write this album I’ve learned to embrace it. The Unknown. To offer up my story to the music and listen. What does the song want to be? I am just a conduit, a conductor of energy. I am a storyteller. A good song – a true song, will make itself known when we embrace the fact that it could take us somewhere we had not planned to go. I think that’s the basis for the whole project and really been my method throughout. Not only in song but relationships as well.
It’s so strange when you can’t stay
In the same place catch me riding
Upon that wave when it breaks
I won’t wait I’ll keep trying to find my
Sense of wonder…Self awareness…my place among the familiar and unfamiliar…won’t you join me in my travels ?
This story is part of a series of Conversations with Lostboycrow, dedicated to following his path since I first spoke to him in August 2015 (read here) and into the future. Also read Feels Like Home Tour, A Brief History, and Real Name from the Conversations with Lostboycrow.
Community and Purpose
Photo by Teren Mabry. Words by Jenna Million.
On a rainy day in February, Lostboycrow says he had some time to reflect on what he’s been doing, and why he’s doing it. That day he posted a video on his Instagram story journaling his idea of community and purpose.
“I think anyone in life is always searching for their people and their community,” he says during a phone interview several weeks later.
As part of Pop Punk Please’s series, Conversations with Lostboycrow, I talked to him in depth about the idea of community, which people strive to be a part of, and purpose, which gives meaning to life.
“It’s about finding your people in life, and your passions are going to end up being your purpose,” he says. “I think a lot of people deny themselves that, but whatever you’re passionate about will guide you towards your purpose.”
Community and purpose are intertwined. When you find your community of friends, family or fans, they become your supporters. Their love and devotion becomes validation for your purpose.
He mentions that the industry tends to focus on record sales and touring. But at the end of the day, it’s the community of fans, and even other artists, that keep a musician going.
“Music is about friendship and encouragement. It’s about the Beach Boys trying to make an album even better, just as innovative as The Beatles and vice versa,” he says.
Music, in particular, creates deep-rooted communities. When you hear a song you identify with, it feels like there is an omnipotent force that resonates within your soul – there’s a spiritual quality, which Lostboycrow says he connects to.
“I was raised in church, but I always felt closer to whatever the idea of God was when I was listening to Eminem or Weezer up in my room,” Lostboycrow says of his personal relationship to music.
He sites My Chemical Romance and Blink-182 as bands that create a sense of community, and that feel like “a movement.” Twenty One Pilots, he says, brings this community and spirituality to life in a concert setting.
“That’s far more of a spiritual awakening or experience, so to speak, for kids, and you can tell cause they love it,” Lostboycrow says of Twenty One Pilots. “It’s beyond words, really.”
“If you think about what music is – manipulating frequencies – it’s like magic,” he says.
If music is made up of frequencies, and humans are made up of atoms vibrating at different frequencies, then Lostboycrow argues that music can affect how we feel.
“You’re essentially manipulating emotions by the music that you’re playing,” he says.“You’re creating these emotional scenarios that people can latch onto and relate to, even without words, and that’s why music is so powerful.”
That’s why you can hear a song in a different language and still feel an emotional effect, because you’re on the same wavelength, Lostboycrow remarks.
“It’s definitely the universal language,” he says. “It is God in a sense – whatever you believe God is. It’s how we all connect.”
As an artist contributing to this connection, he likens his music to a “symbiotic relationship between you and all the energies of people around you.”
“I have to open myself up to these moments of pure empathy when I can feel people around me or scenarios around me, or feel certain things that make my imagination run wild with what-ifs,” he says. “If you open yourself up to that level of sincerity and vulnerability in songwriting, then you’re just recycling that background to the people you’re drawing it from, and writing it for as well. So they’re going to latch onto it.”
Lostboycrow says songwriters start out writing songs to know that they’re not alone in their feelings.
“The bigger you get, even a few hundred followers on Souncloud or Twitter, [you realize] that you’re not alone in those feelings,” he says. “And then the people listening to you also [realize] that they’re not alone in the way that they see things.”
This is how community is formed. It’s a sense of belonging that validates your purpose. It all comes back to community and purpose.
Lostboycrow will be releasing the first Legend of his debut album Traveler on May 26th. Meanwhile, watch the stunning music video for “Devil’s in the Backseat.”
Words by Jenna Million. Interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Lostboycrow released a music video for “Real Name” this Tuesday, premiering on Billboard. The video follows the lost boy through an enchanting desert scene – a culmination for his past, present and future self.
Lostboycrow gave PopPunkPlease some insight behind the song and the video, and most importantly, his debut album:
“Real Name” is the second release off what will be my first album, and greater story entitled Traveler. The story will be laid out in three maps, referred to as Legends, over the next several months. “Real Name” and “Verona” are the beginning of that journey, and that start of this first Legend.
Read the rest our interview and watch the music video below.
PopPunkPlease: “Real Name” has references to your identity and name. To reference shakespeare – what’s in a name? But more importantly, how does this identity represent who you are versus who people think you are?
Lostboycrow: Naturally “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” but I believe each of us must embrace our own path to be known by in this life. You wont find ‘Lostboycrow’ on a birth certificate, or any government document, but the name was given to me by my experiences, my inspirations and aspirations. And that is what I wish to be known for. To create freely underneath the banner of everything dear to me. Who I’ve been, what I love and where I’m going.
PPP: “Verona” and “Real Name” have a similar vibe sonically, and in the imagery you’ve been using. Is this a theme? Can we expect more like this to come?
LBC: You could definitely say that. I am proud to say they are the first piece of an album I have been pouring myself into.
PPP: What is your favorite thing about this video?
LBC: Sam Miller and Joe DeSantis did an incredible job of capturing the magic of what was such a unique and incredible location all around us, but my favorite part was hanging out and dancing with Jaryan. That’s what it’s all about – overlapping mediums, collaboration, inspiring each other. It was just a blast and he’s such a talented human.
PPP: How do you feel this imagery contributes to your image as a person and as an artist, or is it the same?
LBC: I believe it is the same. From the title of the song to visuals that accompany it, I was able to create a world that collided all the aforementioned – who I have been: my past, my beginnings, my story so far; what I love: the art itself I’m honored to share, the music, the dance, the creating, the process of realizing you have all the tools you need.
This story is part of a series of Conversations with Lostboycrow, dedicated to following his path since I first spoke to him in August 2015 (read here) and into the future. Read part one and part two of Conversations with Lostboycrow.
This story is part of a series of Conversations with Lostboycrow, dedicated to following his path since I first spoke to him in August 2015 (read here) and into the future. Read part one of Conversations with Lostboycrow: Feels Like Home Tour.
Words by Jenna Million. Photo by Melanie Marsman.
“I was this shiny new thing that people hadn’t really heard of or seen,” Lostboycrow says, referencing his popularity in 2015 on Hype Machine, an online chart for new music, based on blog popularity. Lostboycrow’s popularity used to come in the validation of hearts on Hype Machine, which can be a fickle endeavor. “People want to be the first ones writing about a new band. You can get a little too caught up in trying to make something for [blogs] or trying to make a story to keep their interest.”
Now he receives all the love he needs from fans on Spotify. A quick glance at his Spotify page shows nine million plays on “Powers,” with several other songs reaching the millions. “It’s almost like graduating,” he says. “We move from Hype Machine and now it’s Spotify and getting on these cool playlists. I’m really proud of the work I’ve done in the past few years.”
In the summer of 2015, Lostboycrow was a budding artist, distinguishable by his honey sweet vocals and effervescent synth lines. His songs were taking over the Hype Machine charts and were featured on indie blogs such as Hilly Dilly and The Burning Ear. Since then, he’s braved several tours, released his first extended play (EP), and traveled to Amsterdam to talk with a label.
Lostboycrow released his debut EP Sigh for Me, featuring “Powers,” in January 2016. This was the first packaged release for Lostboycrow after a career of singles. “It was exciting for me to finally make something that was supposed to be a group of songs, which is always what I’ve wanted to do and what I want to continue to do,” he says.
Sigh for Me was created in the summer prior as the brain child of Lostboycrow and producers Marø and Brian Morrison, whom he met through collaboration with another artist. “It was very clear that it was a project, a cohesive sort of story as well as sound, which is always great when those two can kind of align,” he says.
The EP itself is a story of passion, emotion and lust in a complicated relationship, driven by electronic soundscapes, fiery synthesizers, and thundering bass. While Lotboycrow’s singles stand very independent from one another, Sigh for Me is a smooth package, and dives farther into the electronic realm than his previous, pop-leaning work.
Sony Europe showed interest in Lostboycrow in the fall of 2016, which landed him in Amsterdam in November for a few showcases. While the trip led to a partnership with Epic Amsterdam for “Where It All Goes” and “Stay a Little Longer,” Lostboycrow says he will remain an independent artist moving forward.
Since the EP, Lostboycrow says he has been fortunate to work with a lot of great people, and now has a core team of producers in the studio who have seen him grow over the past couple years, namely Marø; Real Miilk, producer and sound designer; Dylan William, bassist and producer of flor; and Cody Tarpley, an artist under the same management.
“I only work with people that are going to entertain the complete madness of Lostboycrow and help bring me back down to this planet sometimes, but also just let me fly as high as I can,” he says. It’s inspiring to hear him talk about pushing boundaries in the midst of a music culture that makes it is easy for artists rise to radio popularity with cookie-cutter pop songs.
As a songwriter and storyteller, Lostboycrow is deeply in tune with his creative process. “I consider myself a vessel for all the energy that’s around us and all the stories that are kind of floating around us since the beginning of time,” Lostboycrow says. “And I feel like good songwriting and artmaking is being open enough to hear a song that’s there and wants to be found. I kind of just try to let if flow through me and see what happens.”
It’s hard to stay relevant when people consume music in singles and online streaming, but also demand more depth from artists. Spending hours in the studio over the past year, Lostboycrow is finding that depth in his music. He says, “It’s definitely pushed me into like ‘Okay, I’m an artist. I’m Lostboycrow. How do I show people that even more so?’”
In addition to “Verona,” which will be released on Feb. 10, Lostboycrow says listeners can expect many new releases through 2017. “This next year with the EPs and the album, you’re going to hear me at my most creative,” he says. “You’re still going to have really poppy melodies sometimes. You’re going to have stuff that sounds like rap. You’re going to have really awesome slippery amazing synths, but it’s going to be the most sincere version that anyone has seen of Lostboycrow yet.”
Stay tuned for the next part of Conversations with Lostboycrow.
This is the first part of a series of conversations with Lostboycrow. I first spoke to him in 2015 (read here). This series is dedicated to following his path since then and into the future.
Words and photos by Jenna Million.
A cold night in early December, a small line forms outside of a dimly lit hole-in-the-wall venue in the heart of San Francisco. Inside is a surprisingly drafty bar with a small stage, home to many up-and-coming touring artists. The Feels Like Home tour featuring Lostboycrow and flor claimed that stage on December 6.
A shy but welcoming crowd watched at a safe distance when flor, Los Angeles-based alternative band and friends of Lostboycrow, took the stage for the first half of the co-headlining show. Flor serenaded the audience with soft energetic melodies and sugary synthesizer, brought to life by guitar solos and underlaid with sweet bass and percussion.
In the middle of the set, Lostboycrow joined flor on stage to perform “Still Standing Still,” a collaboration between the two artists that lends itself to the creativity behind both flor and Lostboycrow, becoming something entirely different than each artist’s sound. Lostboycrow says this tour was a long time coming for both artists.
“Lostboycrow was birthed so much around flor – them getting started and us bouncing ideas off of each other,” he says. “We’ve always kind of been side by side, even with the blogs and the hype and now with the next step as well.”
Lostboycrow performing “Still Standing Still” with flor in at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco.
Based in Los Angeles, Lostboycrow says he’s been able to build a special, welcoming audience at his L.A. shows over the past few years, but has reached new audiences after touring for the first time with VÉRITÉ in May 2016.
Closing the night, Lostboycrow gave a heartfelt performance that showcased his talent and versatility as a singer. I was impressed to hear Lostboycrow had every deep, sultry croon and falsetto melody in the pocket. His electronic-heavy songs were well fitted to the live setting with a back up band adding support on guitar, keys and drums. Zach Grace, front man of flor, also joined Lostboycrow on stage for a unique acoustic rendition of Lostboycrow’s “The Lost Boy” and Coldplay’s “Warning Sign.”
Lostboycrow details the special experience of the Feels Like Home Tour:
Touring with your best friends is just exactly that. It was fun, incredibly productive, helpful, and so meaningful for me to be able to bring Zach up on stage every night, and for me to be able to walk up on that stage with them every night and sing and look back at my best friend in the world, [Kyle Hill] playing drums. We grew up in the suburbs of Portland, [Oregon] together and were in awful metal bands together. It was pretty surreal. To play to a packed out crowd in Portland and see people from way back in the day, it meant a lot… I feel very lucky to have done that and I hope it makes sense to do it again some day.
Lostboycrow says playing his music live has been as much of a journey as recording in the studio. He says, “It’s really cool to be surrounded by such incredible musicians… and take these songs that I love and pour myself into and be like ‘Okay how can we reimagine these and make these something to really behold live?’”
Ahead of their ACL weekend two performance, Two Door Cinema Club played a late night show at Stubb’s on October 7 with support from Jack Garratt. See all photos from the show here.
Two Door Cinema Club
It’s been a long time coming for Two Door, and a long time for many fans. In 2014, the band was set to headline a UK festival but was forced to stop due to physical and mental health issues, as the band told DIY Mag. Now back on the scene with a few tours and festivals completed, Two Door Cinema Club are releasing Gameshow on October 14, their first album since Beacon in 2012.
A Friday night gig on the weekend of ACL is the place to be – even members of Catfish and the Bottlemen and Cage the Elephant, fellow festival artists, were in attendance. Two Door teased the crowd, playing “Sandstorm” and testing strobes before taking the stage. Alex Trimble, Sam Halliday and Kevin Baird, accompanied by two more live members, sound as if they haven’t spent a day off of tour. Racing guitar melodies and syncopated synth and percussion are so precise, it’s captivating how effortless it sounds and looks.
Having seen this band on four occasions in previous years, I felt that all of the talent was there but a spark was missing. The crowd was undoubtedly elated to have them back, but there was a lack in sincerity from the band wanting to be back. Even the new material felt tired. Playing new and unreleased music is hard for a band of any size, but the audience wasn’t connected. New singles from the album were greeted with less enthusiasm than any song from Tourist History or Beacon. The dissonance between the band and fans is only a side effect of time spent away, and the release of the album will resolve it.
Gameshow is representative of the new era for the band. They will continue to build where they left off, hopefully with a fresh breath of air, to earn their well-deserved spot in the history of indie rock. Die-hard fans will ultimately follow Two Door anywhere.
The solo artist is quickly turning heads after the release of his debut album early this year. Many of Garratt’s songs build on gentle vocals and simplistic piano or electronic melodies, adding guitar and percussion, to create power soul-pop. | Listen | Follow |
Cage the Elephant performing at Edgefest. Photos by Jenna Million.
Each spring Dallas radio KDGE 102.1 brings the best in alternative rock to Edgefest. The single-day festival in Frisco, Texas, always promises an eye-catching lineup. Last year was stacked with Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, The Kooks, Banks, Hozier, Death Cab for Cutie – need I go on? This year the festival blew it out of the water with Foals, Chvrches, Silversun Pickups, Bastille, The 1975, Cage the Elephant and many others. The irresistible lineup landed me at the festival for a second year. Here are my highlights.
Following time off from touring to record their second studio album, Bastille made a triumphant return to a cheering crowd. Starting with “Flaws,” frontman Dan Smith immediately looked for the quickest way off stage and made his way into the crowd, visiting the front, left, middle and right before returning to the stage just before the end of the song. It is obvious the band has missed playing shows as much as the fans have.
The front row was lined with teen girls anxiously awaiting The 1975’s first appearance in Texas since November 2014. The band is touring the U.S. in support of their second studio album “I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it,” released in October 2015. Accompanying the new and old songs was a vibrant, mesmerizing light setup that created an entirely new way of experiencing their music. I will let the photos speak for themselves.
Immediately following The 1975 with a quick change over, Cage the Elephant closed the night with a rocking blow. Singer Matt Shultz transforms on stage – the music visually courses through him as he runs, jumps, dances across the stage. The rest of the band executes heavy rhythms, speedy percussion, and tight riffs with precision and ease that comes with years of musicianship and work. It culminates into a performance that is unparalleled by any rock band today.