After three years of social media silence, Badboxes is back | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

After three years of social media silence, Badboxes is back

And there's plenty of new music on the way

click to enlarge After three years of social media silence, Badboxes is back
Photo: Veronica Varos

Before Wed., Jan. 2, the last time Badboxes posted anything on social media was 2016. No reposts, no check-ins, and certainly no new music.

Then on that Wednesday, the "Northern pop" artist surprised fans by updating his social media photos, and on Jan. 7, dropped brand new single, "Second Son," his first release since 2014.

So what has Badboxes been up to? And is more new music headed our way? With so many nagging questions, CP spoke with Badboxes about the past, and where he sees the project going in the future.

So, it’s been a while since you last released any music. What have you been up to for the past few years?
Well, a lot of stuff. I went through a lot of big life changes. Just a culmination of internal and external stressors. I felt like I needed to focus on my life a little bit. But I was working on music that whole time. Every free second that I could get, I was in the studio. But I had to move my studio like three times in the last 2 years. Just a lot of different stuff that I had no control over. I needed to put my energy and focus into my relationships and my family. I’ve been working on stuff, but "playing the game" wasn’t my number one priority.

Why did you have to move studios?
For many reasons. So my old studio was at my parent's old house that I grew up in. They sold that house, I had been working on that studio since I was 16. I mean, it was just a little basement room, but there was a lot of energy and stuff there. But that was a lot to just figure out. Then I went through a couple of rental places in the interim. But I bought a house six months ago and I’m almost done with my new studio, which I’m planning to be in as long as I can. I’m the type of person that likes a cozy spot to work in. It was hard for me to reconcile moving my stuff so much.

What have you been working on in your time away from social media?
I’m been working on an album. Which turned into, to be honest, like two separate albums because I went through kind of like an experimentation period and I kind of figured out what I wanted to do. I just love recording, so I’m always getting myself into these wormholes where I figure out something I think is super exciting and cool so I just do that for like two months.

But there is a full album that’s done now. That was always my plan, but there’s probably upwards of 35 tracks that I’m queuing up.

How are you going about picking what songs you will release?
I show a lot of my friends and family. I have these Dropbox folders with like six hours of music I’ll just send to one of my friends. And I’ll be like “Hey! Can you give me your option?” And they’re like, “Dude, you’re going to have to give me like two weeks.” [The songs] are like all my babies. So I kinda of just let me friends picks. There are some where I’m like, “I love this song!” But then I can’t get anyone else behind it, so I let other people do that for me.

When can Badboxes fans expect the album? Or one of the albums?
Well, there’s a main one, and the main new Badboxes album I’m hoping to get out by spring. But I have all these little ambient mixtapes and beat mixtapes and stuff that I want to release in the next year as well. So, I’m hoping the spring. We’ll see. [Laughs] I’ve been saying that shit for so long! But it is done, and there are steps being made.

So, you said you went through a kind of experimental phase. Will this new album be similar to your previous sound? Or can we expect something different?
It’s a little bit of an evolution. Some of the real experimental stuff kind of fits on its own compilation. But there will definitely be some weirdness in there. I feel like I need to evolve constantly to be excited about creative stuff. But it’s not wildly different. There are certain things that I kept … I don’t want to say simple, but comfortable. Which is like a lot of the sounds that were on in the earlier stuff. There was almost like a nostalgic thing or something.

But, I would say it’s closer to our first album, which was called Jsmn, than the second one. It’s a little more vintage ’90s. It’s just like a mishmash of all my favorite music. I never really liked doing the whole music paint by numbers sort of thing. It’s almost like ’90s R&B with pop-rock too, if I had to get specific about it. I thought a lot about Windows 95 when I was making it.

Why’s that?
I don’t know, I’m getting older and that was the sort of stuff that was popular when I was a kid. And I think everybody sort of thinks of their childhood better than it was, and that was my childhood. So for me, a lot of the early 90s synthesizers and drum machines and computers and Oregon Trail, stuff like that, was an underlying inspiration during the whole thing.

So, is there anything you can tell CP readers about the new album?
Well, I’m kind of insane when it comes to album names, so I’ve been flipping back and forth between two. I don't want to tell you one thing and then ... But one thing I will say is, we put out two EPs and this one will be the third in sort of a small trilogy of records. And this definitely is the closing one of that period. And then from there on out its probably going to get kinda weird. [Laughs] But it’s definitely like a continuation of a lot of the themes in the first one.

Is “Second Son” on the album?
Yeah! In the next couple months, I’m going to be putting out as many singles as I can, and almost all of those will be one the album. We’re kind of just going full force now, like a quickly as Spotify will let us put them up, we’re going to start doing it.

Why did you choose “Second Son” as your debut back into the music world?
I felt like it was a really good representation of the sound. I mean it varies a lot on the album, but just the sound of me and Badboxes. I make a lot of music to be like silly and have fun, and that one was a bit more middle of the road. It felt good to put something like that out. I just go off feel, and it just felt good.

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