Ride with them

Ride with them

Folk duo Boy has a melancholic momentum

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Swiss German duo Boy's music lends itself to being on the road
Swiss German duo Boy's music lends itself to being on the road
Photo: Universal Music
It's not surprising that Swiss German folk duo Boy's music often has an on-the-road vibe, given that one half of the band had to leave her home country to pursue her dream.

Bassist Sonja Glass was born and raised in Germany, where the band is based. But vocalist Valeska Steiner left her home country, Switzerland, to join Glass in Hamburg and form Boy.

The two first met while attending music seminars together in Hamburg, in Germany, in 2005. Their admiration for each other's talents grew as they kept in touch online.

Two and a half years later, they teamed up to form Boy - a random name they came up with, hoping to surprise people with the discovery that they are actually girls.

This is the Beginning - the first track on their 2011 debut album Mutual Friends - captures the first moments the band got together.

"It's about Valeska saying goodbye to her hometown and family, while on the other hand feeling excited to be in a new place," Glass says. The upbeat track - powered by an acoustic guitar - carries a sense of subtle sadness.

Boy produces a variety of acoustic tracks, and with their catchy rhythms and folk-pop sound, there's something Feist-esque about the duo's music.

Bassist Glass says most of Boy's songs sound slightly melancholic, whether they are fast-paced, more upbeat tracks or slow, more contemplative ballads. But this sense of emptiness is of a positive kind, from which people will also feel warmth and hope.

The duo loves to tell stories through their songs, which helps explain why many of the tracks end up having this warmly melancholic feel. Their music feels easy and light, but carries weight in its meaning, through heartfelt lyrics.

"Valeska has many stories to tell, and she's more like a singer-songwriter," says Glass. "When she writes songs, she always tries to say something."

Their soothing track Drive Darling - ideal for road trips - is about Steiner's drive from Switzerland to Germany.

"But she actually doesn't have a driving licence," says Glass, laughing. "Back in Switzerland, she was driven around by her mother. And since she came to Germany, I've become the driver."

The duo has been writing songs in English since they started. Glass says they are influenced by music styles in the US, but they also listen to music from other places, including Sweden. They insist on producing their music in English because, says Glass, Steiner sounds better when she sings in English.

"We have one last tour. We are going to the US next Sunday for a month, and then Canada," Glass says. After that, the band will return to Hamburg to work on their next album.


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