By Bella Savignano | June 22, 2022
Freshly after making the transition from their first band together, The Blue, to their newly formed group, Boyish, India Shore and Claire Altendahl anxiously and enthusiastically released their new band’s debut album, “Garden Spider.” A month later, almost to the day, the entire world shut down. The duo was terrified– they put everything into this album, and without the capability to tour and reach new fans, they felt like they “flopped” (their word, not ours!)
“I remember when everything shut down. I was freaking out because it felt like everything I wanted to do now was sunk. It kinda felt like [Garden Spider] disappeared in a way,” guitarist Claire Altendahl explained. But the group remained optimistic: lead vocalist India Shore said she felt that the lockdown gave them a valuable opportunity to “start over.” With “all the time in the world,” they could create something they genuinely loved. In a twist of fate, they experienced first-hand the occasional magic of technology: some sort of algorithmic miracle led to the opening track of “Garden Spider,” the rousing, hot-blooded “FUCK YOU HEATHER” to blow up. The song hit one million streams on Spotify in late 2020 and hasn’t stopped growing since.
Fast forward to 2022. The band just rounded out their first-ever tour supporting Minnesota rock band, Remo Drive. New to touring, and really just performing as a band entirely, Boyish absorbed everything they could from the exhausting, but gratifying, experience.
“We learned what doesn’t work in a live show and what people aren’t reacting to. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but you fix it, and then you figure out what does work after doing it every night for a month. It was cool to get better at performing,” said India. The band closes every show with their big hit, which they referred to in our interview as “Heather.” They also noted that A) they really aren’t that angry, and B) they don’t even know a Heather.
“It’s so fun. It’s the most cathartic song to sing or scream,” India relayed. Claire expressed the band’s concern about the post-Heather days–so far, they have yet to find a song in their discography that creates the same maniacal energy and gets a better crowd response, but with only one album out and an EP hot off the press, they have time to figure that one out.
The new EP, “My Friend Mica,” is a six-track self-described “journal entry” that recounts, in chronological order, a year in India and Claire’s lives. The album was written in “real-time,” with no underlying theme or concept to guide it, which the duo cites as a benefit to their songwriting.
“I think it helps to be way more honest and to be really real with who you are and what you’re feeling. It helps to do it in real-time, because if you’re trying to still write to one theme, you’re like ‘I don’t even know what this feels like anymore!’” said Claire. The EP chronicles the growing pains that come with the tumultuous transition to adulthood, navigating relationships, coming into your true self, and sometimes, existential dread.
Their most recent New York City show was scheduled for the rooftop at Elsewhere, a funky, open-air space that should have been an ideal setting for a mid-June show. Unfortunately, a rainy, gloomy, shockingly brisk cold spell caused a last-minute venue shift to Elsewhere’s smaller, cave-like Zone One. The room was too small for Boyish and the crowd was packed in like sardines, but luckily, no one seemed to care. We were eager to witness the “gay, fun party” the band proclaimed they set out to throw during their live performances, but first, was an ethereal sad-girl folk set by Nashville singer-songwriter Cece Coakley. Armed with an acoustic guitar, one of the most unblemished natural voices we’ve ever heard, and on some songs, a friend playing pared-down rhythm guitar, the songstress enchanted, performing a spectral, analog rendition of her debut EP “Tender.” It was spellbinding, achingly intimate, and a new staple to soundtrack moments of melodramatic yearning. As soon as Boyish came on, the dance party commenced with “Superstar,” a lush, dreamy single that never ended up on any of the band’s bigger projects. After playing a selection of songs from “My Friend Mica,” “Garden Spider,” and “Carnation” (their only record as The Blue), the band closed, as promised, with fan-favorite, “FUCK YOU HEATHER.”
The dyad and their accompanying band put on a show so electrifying that we almost forgot about the stifling humidity in the packed room. With another EP in the works and a tour with spill tab in September, Boyish is primed to have an endless supply of fun, gay parties on the horizon.
We sat on the floor in a circle, pre-school style, and Boyish answered a few questions for the groovement:
What was your first concert?
India: Taylor Swift, Fearless tour.
Claire: Either the Jonas Brothers or Kiss.
How did you guys get started in music?
C: My dad played guitar in a band growing up. I wanted to join his band as the drummer.
I: I was a competitive gymnast for my whole life. I tore a couple of ligaments and I needed to replace gymnastics with something, so I started singing.
How would you describe your music?
C: Genre-wise, indie. But it’s kinda like sad, gay, but also energetic.
I: Sad gay energy!
Who inspires you?
C: Definitely Phoebe Bridgers. We worship Phoebe Bridgers. Also Adrienne Lenker and Japanese Breakfast.
I: beabadoobee and MUNA.
Do you have any message or goal you want to impart to your audience?
I: For a show atmosphere, I really want it to feel like a positive, gay, fun party to be at.
I: You’re here, you’re gay, you’re having fun!
C: Exactly what I was gonna say! To make a community of a live show where people feel like it’s cool to be gay here.
Do you guys have a dream venue?
C: Madison Square Garden
I: The Greek or Red Rocks
Any super memorable nights in the city? Or your dream night out?
I: I grew up here, and my most memorable night was when I ended up at a movie premiere, and I met One Direction!
C: That’s hard to beat. On one of my first nights here, India’s mom took me to see the Rockettes, and I think that might have to be one of my favorite memories.
📸: shot by Jill Boyatsis