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.”
Manchester Orchestra performed at Stubb’s in Austin, Texas, on September 9 after the release of their latest album A Black Mile to the Surface in July. St. Louis, Missouri, based Foxing supported Manchester Orchestra at in Austin.
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.”
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?’”
Words by Jenna Million. Photos curtesy of Getty Images for Hilton.
Tucked away in a private room at Hilton Austin, an invite-only crowd yelled, whistled and whooped in awe at a guitar solo lasting what felt like half a dozen minutes, and very likely was. The blues-inspired solo was wrought with such passion and precision that it could only be performed by an artist with years of mastery and a profound understanding for music. The artist – Gary Clark Jr.
Gary Clark Jr. performed at Hilton Austin on October 28, closing out the 2016 Hilton Concert Series, a show any music lover would jump at the chance to attend. Open to Hilton HHonors members, the mostly-adult crowd witnessed a legend in the making.
Ask anyone and they will say the same thing about Clark – that he’s good. Really good. But expecting really good and seeing it for yourself are two different things. Clark isn’t just really good. He becomes the music he is playing, overwhelmed by the rhythm and communicating only with the blues. The guitarist is a thoughtful performer. The music embodies him, speaking through Clark as if he is merely a tool in producing such effortless, powerful melodies.
Living in Austin, you quickly learn the list of Austin’s icons. It’s a short list, but a list that any true Austinite will boastfully brag about, as if they personally know every person on the list. (Willie Nelson, Matthew McConaughey, and Bevo are the legends.) Clark is arguably on his way up that list.
In 2015, Clark played a homecoming evening slot at Austin City Limits Fest, to tens of thousands of people, while simultaneously fortifying his golden spot on the list. Just a year earlier, Clark became a name among the Grammy’s, with a nomination for Best Rock Song and a win for Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Please Come Home.”
The Hilton Concert Series is a worldwide exclusive event for HHonors members to enjoy some of the best, current talent in music. Other performances include Tegan and Sara at Hilton Toronto, Halsey at Tokyo Hilton Odaiba, and Jason Derulo at Hilton San Diego Bayfront.
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 |
BØRNS performing at Stubb’s on June 7. All photos by Jenna Million.
On one of the first warm nights of summer last Tuesday, people filed in one after another at Stubb’s outdoor amphitheater to be serenaded and hopefully catch a glimpse of BØRNS, an up-and-coming artist who’s honey vocals and cotton candy music land him on the edge of pop. The sold-out show was moved to Stubb’s after selling out Scoot Inn, a big accomplishment for any artist who played Stubb’s 450-capacity indoor room less than a year ago as one of Austin City Limits Festival’s after shows.
The cool-headed 24-year-old graced the stage with ease that comes from months spent on the road performing nightly. BØRNS floated back and forth across the stage through out the set, eliciting cheers and screams from the many teen boys and girls in the front of the crowd. The idealistic pop music and mostly falsetto vocals create a dream-like sound-scape. Oversaturated lights bathed the singer in blues, greens and reds. The added visual stimulation transformed the musical experience into an stellar wonderland, where BØRNS is an ethereal pop sensation.
As BØRNS made his way through Dopamine, his 2015 debut album, many audience members sang every word in a passionate cry, challenging the volume of the singer himself. As he belted out a David Bowie cover of “Heroes” to end the night, it was obvious he wooed Austin.
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.