In July 2008, the Guardian hailed Brooklyn-based quintet Boy Crisis as, “the hottest electronic pop group to emerge from America since, ooh, MGMT at least.” In the next year, largely on the strength of the playful single “Dressed to Digress,” the group signed a high-profile record deal with B-Unique, recorded an album, and went on tour in the UK.
In the next year, however, something happened. The anticipated Tulipomania never came out. They were seemingly dropped from their label. The quintet turned into a trio. Concomitantly, frontman Victor Vasquez’s side project, Das Racist (a rap trio comprised of Vazquez, Himanshu Suri, and Ashok Kondabolou), began gaining momentum. But there may be light at the end of the tunnel for Boy Crisis. We met up with the band after their show at Bonnaroo and discussed their past, their present, and their plans for the future.
GLONO: It was 2008 when your first single, “Dressed to Digress” came out. What was your experience
Victor: Well we got signed, and we got shelved, and now we are trying to get the album back. That’s the short of it.
Alex: The longer one is we got a lawyer, we got a manager, we got signed. We made a record. We went to England.
GLONO: You signed with B-Unique. How did they draw you?
A: I will let Victor answer that.
V: Haha, I don’t know. We are trying to be nice, like, if you don’t have anything nice to say…
GLONO: Okay. They’re a pretty good label. You were supposed to have a tour with them, did it go down?
GLONO: Why did I think it was cancelled?
V: Well it got cancelled because we didn’t finish the album, and then they rescheduled it.
GLONO: Talking about your album, Tulipomania, what’s up with it? Where is it?
A: It’s the last instance of an economic bubble.
V: You mean historically?
A: Yeah, wait, what are we talking about?
GLONO: When did you finish it?
V: We finished it last summer, and delivered it with the album artwork and everything by October.
GLONO: And then?
V: Basically they gave a couple reasons why it didn’t come out. Basically they’re like, “You did some shows in the UK that certain radio people were at and they weren’t really feeling it. And without their support, if we don’t get a single on Radio 1, and then we don’t know how we can sell the album.”
A: Yeah the only way to sell records in any like serious amount in England is to have your single on Radio 1 a certain amount of times a day, and then they can gauge how many people will buy it. It’s complicated.
V: I don’t know, it seems like a cockamamie excuse. I don’t know, it seems like they didn’t get exactly know what they wanted, and then they just gave up. Which is like, whatever, you could see it as “why spend any more money on us?” But they signed us under the premise that they believed in the project.
A: Or at least as far as we knew.
V: Whatever, I don’t really like them any more.
GLONO: So B-Unique has your album now?
A: Not for long.
V: The have the British rights. They had 150 days to put out the album on our delivery. After those 150 days, we wrote them a letter like, “What’s up?” They were like, “Oh, give us two more months,” which is the legal amount of time for them to stall. And we were like, “You’re stalling.” And then they were like, “Alright, my bad, we’re stalling.” And now they’re giving us the American shit back. They get to keep the British rights and push the deadline to whenever they feel like it, as long as we get it back in the States.
A: We’re looking for labels, right now.
GLONO: Talk about what we can expect from the album.
V: It’s twelve tracks. Right now we are thinking of getting rid of two of them, and putting one of the new joints we made on, and maybe another one. And maybe touching up one or two tracks. I don’t know if we’ll have the time.
A: Yeah, we gotta dirty it up a little bit maybe.
V: Yeah, because I think what happened is when we got this producer dude, who was just this older dude. We wanted to keep it dirty. He wanted to tidy it up. He didn’t trust our opinion.
A: And we didn’t trust his.
V: And at the end of the day, we came to compromises that didn’t satisfy anyone. So we’re trying to, if we have the time, dirty it up. Or we might let the songs be, and write new joints.
A: Which would kind of be really nice.
V: Which is kind of the plan in July.
A: We are going up to the woods at Lee’s parents’ house and…
V: Just go in.
GLONO: So, do you feel like the older songs on the album are less timely?
A: Yeah, I think so. I mean, it’s weird for us because some of these songs are even older than that.
V: Yeah, shit we even wrote in college. I don’t know, I think we’re bored with a lot of it. And yet, we still feel an expectation to play it. I think mostly just to…
A: To keep this as a career in certain ways.
V: It’s always been important to play the joints on the record, and show the people you can play those songs. Beacuse there has always been, at every show we’ve played, there has always been someone we had to impress, some industry person. We’ve had a few shows where we get to have fun and get to do some weird shit, but like, you know.
GLONO: For sure. What have you learned from this experience?
V: We sort of felt like all of this shit came a little too early, before we really had figured ourselves out and had much time to have fun and experiment. Now we’re realizing we can have fun and experiment while it’s happening.
A: And trust our judgment a little bit more.
V: We were second guessing ourselves, and giving a bunch of people the benefit of the doubt like, “Oh this will sell more, if you do it this way.” Or just rushing into things. We went on tour for 20 days with 2 or 3 days of practice.
A: We literally finished the record, went to Wesleyan and shot a video for three days, and went to the UK the next day.
V: We had a couple days to practice over there, but these were songs we had just written.
A: And we write, we don’t sit around as band with a guitar, so…
V: Yeah, I think a lot of shit was rushed, and I think it was because we were like, “Alright, yeah, whatever y’all say.” Now we are realizing that they didn’t know shit, and we should just trust ourselves.