If you're a darkwave and/or coldwave-obsessed freak like me, Boy Harsher is a name that has almost certainly crossed your path once or twice. And if you listen to them, you won't forget them anytime soon.

The American duo, comprised of Augustus Muller and Jae Matthews, make confessional dark synth-pop with dense layers of lustful and erotic songwriting. Pain and devotion are recurring topics on top of their industrial-goth inspired beats. Although they are open to experimentation, we've seen and heard them mature throughout their releases. From Lesser Man, their first EP from 2014, soon to be reissued by Berlin-based label aufnahme-wiedergabe, they would stand closer to grittier sounds and absorb influence and inspiration from bands like D.A.F, Yello or Nitzer Ebb.

Yr Body Is Nothing, their excellent full-length debut, was released in 2016 and wove them into a more nostalgic and eerie sounding direction, yet their signature devotional storytelling remained and proved itself as one of the pillars of their identity. Jae's lyrics tied to Gus' luscious and dark production create a very emotional and unique dimension to their music. Both are former film students, therefore this adds another important aspect to Boy Harsher's creative dynamic: a cinematic aesthetic in support of an exciting musical act with a lot to offer.

The band is currently gearing up towards their first ever European tour, starting with an already sold-out show in Berlin on November 17th, and recently released their new EP Country Girl via Ascetic House. I spoke to Augustus and Jae so I could dissect and find out more about what makes the world of Boy Harsher so fascinating and discuss their next steps.


You've been extensively touring the United States back and forth and getting yourselves out there as much as you can. Through this, how do you both focus and gather inspiration for your music? Do you take experience from your daily lives and from what you feel/live on stage?

Augustus: Playing live has definitely shaped our songs. We want the music to be heavy and visceral, and a live setting is the best way to test things out. We've played some really amazing shows that definitely stuck with me and I think I subconsciously reference that when recording.

Jae: I'm still trying to learn how to take what I can from traveling and translate it into constant song-making. Before all of this I would just be lonely and writing came naturally. But now it's rare to be alone. I don't think I've figured it out.

As far as I can tell, at least here in Berlin, the expectation for your upcoming (and first) European tour is going through the roof. How do you feel about this new milestone for Boy Harsher?

A: It's really exciting. Definitely a dream come true. It's also an abstract feeling. I really have no idea what to expect.

J: I am freaking!

Northampton, where you're currently based, is not a major center like New York or Boston but a good central point between both. Has moving to Massachusetts proven itself a good choice for both of your personal lives and as musicians? What was missing in Savannah?

A: Moving closer to New York was huge for us. We immediately tapped into a whole community of music and people that we couldn't find in the south. We got the opportunity to play some really formative shows.

J: The new proximity is a great benefit. We've also been able to visit Montreal - which I had never been. And now I love that place! Our family is spread over the northeast, so it's also nice to be close as everyone gets older. I think we wanted to move to the city - but the expense isn't really feasible and I really desire that bucolic isolation.

You both being former Film students, I'm sure you put a lot of thought into making your music match a certain (visual) narrative. Through the songwriting, post-punk, EBM and even a slight New Order-y inspired production under Jae's faded and raw vocals, the world you're both creating is claustrophobic and terrifyingly delightful. How has collaborating with other artists/producers influenced the way you function/produce/compose? Any new methods that have been proven successful to achieve your goals as a band?

A: Collaboration with other artists has been a key step in our recording process. We write the majority of material at home. It's important for us to have plenty of time and space to flesh out the songs. We then take the songs to the studio to re-record vocals and overdubs. On our first two releases we worked with Peter Mavrogeorgis in Savannah. He has a lot of experience and huge wealth of music history. He introduced us to music that turned out to be so influential. We just worked with Jordan Romero in Baltimore for Country Girl. They're a longtime friend and I'm huge admirer of their music, Shy Violet. They definitely helped us get kinda wild on Country Girl.

When I first heard Boy Harsher, my first thoughts were about how erotic and lustful songs like 'Save Me', 'Morphine' and 'Yr Body Is Nothing' could be and how stripped down simplicity just strikes you much more than overlaying. 'Pain', from Lesser Man is considered a goth-club anthem and is the one song people seem to recognize instantly. How do you dissect your ideas and sounds to achieve this very gloomy, dark and tense atmosphere, almost as your musical identity?

A: We both gravitate towards a dark aesthetic. We're still trying to figure out exactly what we're going for. We write a lot of material, but if the mood isn't right, we throw it out.

J: We do ditch a lot and that's tough for me because I get attached really easily. And, I think 'Save Me' and 'Morphine' have those qualities because there's this level of desperation and destruction that is kinda erotic - but also pretty fucked up?

Your music has been described several times as 'confessional' dark synth-pop. There's no denying that it's definitely one of the most notorious and engaging factors of your music. However, I prefer to call it devotional. Does Country Girl, your new EP, work as a bridge and allow a continuity to the Yr Body is Nothing story?

J: Wow! Thanks! I guess I always find myself confessing in the lyrics and to describe that feeling as devotional is kinda wild. A devotee to shame. Lol! I think Country Girl is standalone at this point. But, it's definitely an indication of what we've been exploring. Sometimes I never know where Gus is gonna go.

Country Girl sounds less grittier and much more club-friendly and well put together. There's this 80's synth vibe going around, especially on 'Westerners'. Jae's voice remains stunning on top of each track. They make sense together. Should we consider this EP a glimpse of what is yet to come? Or should we remain expecting the unexpected?

A: I don't want to get married to one type of genre. I hope to be constantly growing, to modernize the ideas we developed in the first two releases. With that said I'm still very obsessed with music of the 80's and reference it heavily when writing.

You've expressed yourselves through several platforms: music, video, zines, poetry. Will we see more Boy Harsher music/video production combos as we did with 'Motion' and, in particular, 'Country Girl', that was directed by Jae? Was the collaboration with director MJ Bernier and performance artist Tara-Jo Tashna what you expected to be? Both videos turned out great and they really match the expectation of what a Boy Harsher score should be.

J: MJ Bernier was introduced to me through a friend at a show, plus we had this funny idea to shoot a video with Kristina and it all started as musing and then the next thing you know it was a video! Very pleased that it all worked out. Kristina sends me these words of encouragement out of the blue all the time and I'm usually sad/anxious, so it's major.

As for Country Girl, I was trying to make a short film with Tara-Jo Tashna but due to some tragic circumstances, it did not come together. However, we had some footage to work with and decided to write it into a music video. Very blessed to have worked with Tara-Jo. She is a super talented performer and has this generous spirit. I really look forward to the time we can work together again.

How's your 2018 planning looking? Are we to expect more new music? Different creative projects? Also maybe a well deserved holiday?

J: We need to figure out where to live! We're writing right now, but who knows where it's gonna go. You can always hope that you are able to finish.