Female Pop Act “Boy” Making Strides in Germany

Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass are the brains behind the rather misleading musical group name “Boy.” Attention: Girls = Boy.

Steiner was born in Switzerland, and Glass in Hamburg–totaling a geographical distance of 850 kilometers between cities–but not an inch came between the musical joining of the two young musicians. They first became acquainted with each other at “Popkurs,” a class at Hamburg’s college of music. Retrospectively, they describe the day as “musical speed dating.” To record their debut album, the two simply met halfway in Berlin-Grunewald. Occasionally Thomas Hedlund, full-time drummer of Phoenix, accompanied the duo’s recordings.

Work is shared at Boy: Steiner mainly writes lyrics, whereas bassist/guitarist Glass composes. In the beginning they exchanged composition ideas via email. The two women sing in English–in an accent-free and clear English, which cannot be taken for granted from a Swiss singer. Laut.de describes the band’s diction as “a mix of the rocking elegance of Phoenix, combined with the bubbly musicality of Feist and the emotional depth of Bon Iver.” The band has the reputable Grönland Records behind them–a label that was founded by German singer-songwriter Herbert Grönemeyer.

THE BOMBER JACKET saw Boy play for a welcoming sold-out crowd at Berlin’s Postbahnhof in late February. The venue’s ambience was friendly; the duo communicated the message, “tonight we are all Mutual Friends.” It may sound too squeaky-clean to be true, but Boy is simply a duo that knows how to use its strengths. They’re poppy and they’re good at being poppy. The women fulfill the stereotypical, superficial music industry look, but they also succeed musically; Boy attracts people in their twenties and beyond who simply can identify with the themes of the band’s songs.

Mutual Friends is the ideal record to take with you when traveling through life’s everyday moments. The fact that Boy can effortlessly combine a slight melancholic touch with a dominant positive view–confidently in English–is enviable. For example, the song “Drive Darling” is not only about a painful farewell, but it also conveys the hope that everything can turn out okay. “This is the beginning” is a song for someone who’s boldly trying something new, like Steiner, who left Switzerland and moved to Hamburg.

Over the last year, touring has brought Boy to mostly play shows in the muscians’ homelands of Germany and Switzerland. They’ve headlined their own gigs and have also played support for the German band Bosse. Internationally, the potential is there, but the band just hasn’t been exposed yet. It will be interesting to see if they eventually break the British and American markets. For now, the group has a dependable fanbase in Germany; finally a good girl-group is back in the industry!

–Meike Winter (translated by Lisa Frank)