Newboy is raw, groovy, and stripped back to the skeleton. As the solo project of Greg Vand—who is one half of Din and the legendary High-Functioning Flesh—Newboy approaches a different facet of EBM. The self-titled EP that came out this past February on DKA is rife with chugging beats and eccentric, funky basslines. Each track is addictive as the next in it’s confined (yet completely exploratory) parameters. With elements of early EBM artists such as Portion Control or Severed Heads, Newboy feels like the 2021 equivalent of that same minimal electronic experimentation.
We spoke to Vand about his new music video for “Rain Clouds,” his process in the studio, and what inspired Newboy:
Can you tell us about the concept of the music video for “Rain Clouds”?
The video was inspired by all the time I have spent online finding live sets of some of my favorite bands. I wanted to do something that sort of felt like it may fit into that category. I really found myself missing live shows and wanting to find something that could fill that space in my life. It worked for an hour or two while we were filming!
How do you approach Newboy as opposed to your other projects?
I like to think that Newboy is open ended and has the potential to be anything it wants. I am not trying to necessarily play in a style or stick to one, though I generally gravitate towards very stylized genres. I want to take part in a conversation with all the things that excite me and I want to follow that energy as far as I can. The books I am reading, the movies I am watching, and the music I am listening to all get tied in one way or another.
When you work in the studio, where do you start? What is the most important element of a track for you?
I typically start with either a few bars of rhythm or a bassline and try to establish a groove. I usually just listen to that on loop for a while until I decide it is time to build from it or start on something else. The tracks on this EP I had made with specific samples in mind. All of these samples come from the same source and function as a sort of tribute.
Did quarantine help shape this EP either stylistically or thematically?
I finished writing and recording all these songs before quarantine and mixed them over the first month or two. So I wouldn’t say they are shaped by quarantine. I did experience the worst creative block of my life right after finishing this EP. It was really hard. At one point, I shut everything down and didn’t touch anything music related for 6 or 7 months. I finally broke through in mid January and am excited about where music is taking me again.
What were your main inspirations for the EP?
A year or two ago I was walking through a parking lot in front of a popular health foods store in Echo Park. I watched a group of teens and a middle aged white rasta cross paths. One of the teens said “One love, bro.” to the adult and the entire universe fell out from under his feet. I found it greatly inspiring and it gave me a lot of hope for the future. I like to keep things like this in mind while I am working on music.
Also, right before I made this EP I played a show with two friends and was right between them in the lineup. I felt so underwhelmed with my own material compared to theirs that I knew I had to do better. I went home and began reworking everything I had and this EP was the result.