Boy Harsher on emotions and intimacy

Interview by Angela Donskaia
Photos by Nedda Afsari

Boy Harsher’s music conveys the ecstasy of a nightclub, while shaping intimacy through a melancholic synth sound. The duo, composed of Jae Matthews and August Muller, make cold wave music which surprisingly feels like a warm blanket in a naked, industrial club. We’ve asked them a few questions on the emotions behind their sound.  

Boy Harsher play at Dour Festival 2023, Sunday July 16th. Get more info here.

Your tracks seem to push all the right buttons.
Do you think music plays an important role in intimacy?

Jae: I think music can change the air in the room. Turning benign moments into loaded or fearful or sexy or light. The way the brain attempts to dissect our settings is fascinating and complicated. Sound provides a lot of cues. In terms of intimacy I imagine that’s a personal thing, a wildly varied experience.

How would you define the emotions you’re perhaps portraying in your music and aesthetics?

Jae: I like to play with ideas of lust and desperation and anger and loss. There are all these manic connections between something that evokes a sexy character, or a dangerous, repulsive beast. I like playing with the grey area in there.

Augustus: The emotions invent themselves, we just try to reinforce them.

Do you find pleasure in melancholy, a mood that seems to be lingering in your tracks?

Jae: I don’t think our sombreness is active, or intentional – unlike seeking pleasure in the melancholy, we’re delivering an earnest interpretation of our lives, our experiences. We’re kinda’ dark, but also goofy people.

Your music seems to convey the ecstasy of a nightclub, softened by the intimacy created by the darkness. Darkness as a warm blanket in the bare naked cold industrial club. How do you personally experience it?

Jae: I like that – maybe someday I’ll have that from Boy Harsher too.

Nude Club, your music label, what was the trigger to launch it?

Augustus: It started as a way to re-release our old records. It was going well so we decided to put the new album out too.

Jae: we’re just riding the wave to see where it goes.

How do you feel about safety in the club space?

Augustus: Safe space is mandatory and I think clubs and communities need to integrate it more, especially DIY spaces. I think a lot of people keep their eyes out for violence and abuse at shows, but we need to work harder to educate people of what that looks like and how to handle it.

Boy Harsher play at Dour Festival 2023, Sunday July 16th. Get more info here.