Austin-based grunge-psych band Boyfrndz‘ greatest attribute has always been their ability to write dark, cerebral songs that teem with power but manage to maintain a hypnotizing tenderness. The four-piece’s recent release Impulse finds the band scraping their way through their most complex material yet, with singer and guitarist Scott Martin’s striking falsetto balancing out the album’s heavier elements. We chat with Martin about epiphanies, musical improvisation and the future of hip-hop.
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What’s your typical songwriting process?
Well, historically we’ve always written everything out of improvisation. This record, songwriting-wise, was a much different process for us. We still pulled much of it together in that way, but most of the time I’d bring fragments to Aaron and we’d pull the rest together from there. It was the first time we’d written everything all at once, having never played one song live. We wrote the whole record in a little under a month just before flying to Philadelphia to meet Jeff.
How long have you been writing songs?
I’ve been writing songs since I started playing guitar, which was about 12 years ago at this point. I never really got into learning a bunch of cover tunes on the guitar.
Do you remember the first song you ever wrote? What was it?
Fortunately, I don’t really remember the first song. I probably buried it in my memory for good reason.
How do you think your songwriting process has changed since you started?
The big change has been the format in which I write, for whichever group or to what end. In the beginning I was just trying to work on melodies and writing on acoustic guitar. When I was 22 I joined my first band and kind of wrote to the primary songwriter’s songs and eventually started integrating my own songs and sections into that format. Boyfrndz was my first time fully at the helm vocally, and on guitar. Thankfully Aaron is a pretty strong songwriter from his perspective on the drums, so putting our heads together all these years has been really rewarding.
Do you find that you focus more on lyrics or instrumentation when you’re writing?
Always instrumentation. To a fault, usually. I always have the instrumentation and melodies/cadences complete. A lot of the bulk of the lyric writing is usually right before entering the studio or as I go while I’m about to walk into the booth.
What are the best and worst things about songwriting?
The best parts are probably the epiphanies when you stumble across a section or a riff for the first time, or when that chorus or ending finally comes together and you just know, “Thats it!” There can’t be many feelings that compare to feeling like you’ve created something you can be proud of. The worst parts are the times those same parts seem impossible or intangible. There are a lot of emotional highs and lows within the process, at least for me.
Which song on the album are you most proud of and why?
Probably the final track, “Anything is Everything”. It’s a gorgeous track. I love what everyone contributed sonically. Its just so triumphant and positive.
Who are your favorite songwriters?
Brian Wilson, Roger Waters, Thom Yorke, Josh Homme, Kevin Parker, James Murphy, Daniel Rossen and all of Grizzly Bear. Lately I’ve been really into Hiatus Kaiyote, and in general a lot hip hop/r&b. The new D’Angelo record was brilliant. I love the Kendrick Lamar album, Taylor McFerrin, Flying Lotus. These people are the future. It’s amazing to watch and listen to them change the game in real-time. Its so inspiring.
If you could co-write or collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would you choose?
I’d love to work with anyone under the Brainfeeder umbrella. Josh Homme or Thom Yorke. Dead, David Bowie. This could go on too long.