Going under the pseudonym BOYO, singer-songwriter Robert Tilden has been deep in the LA DIY scene since the age of sixteen. Spending a majority of his musical career with the garage band Bobby T. and the Slackers, Tilden felt that it was time for him to branch out on his own. His solo album Me, Again offers listeners a deeper look into Tilden’s soul. Themes of isolation, addiction, and regret are scattered around the musician’s collection of influences over the years; Ty Segall, Elliot Smith, and Deerhunter are just a few examples.
We caught up with Tilden a while back to talk more about his journey towards being a solo artist. We also discussed the DIY scene he cut his teeth in, what he’s learned along the way, and much more.
What was the artist/album that initially got you into thinking of playing music?
As clichéd as it is, probably The Beatles. It’s the one thing my dad, sister, mom, brother, and myself could all agree upon. My sister and brother showed me “A Hard Days Night” when I was around four-year-old and I attempted to wear makeshift “Beatles’ suits” to school every day thereafter until I retired that whole jig due to the discomfort.
You have been immersed in the DIY scene in the Los Angeles area since the age of sixteen. What were those first experiences like for you discovering the community?
It was pretty cool and eye-opening that there were communities full of creative people and places that were self-sustaining and that, ultimately, for me, writing songs didn’t mean only playing strange school open mics or to drunken friends on a patio. The Smell and Pehrspace changed the way I view what a show or event could be.
As you start to further develop what you vision musically, do you find yourself possibly moving away from the scene that you grew up in?
I’m not really sure. I’m 21 and still practically a fetus of a human being so what I want from life is pretty ever-changing. I’ve never been the type to romanticize the idea of getting up and leaving or moving away when things have gotten awkward or strange. I still can go away and be alone and record and animate and write things anywhere I am and that makes life pretty okay.
Since you started creating music, what have you learned about yourself?
That it’s okay to be alone and I’m not a weirdo for it.
You have struggled with addiction and anxiety throughout your life. When writing, do you find almost therapeutic to incorporate your struggles into your lyrics?
It’s not really calculated or thought out. I just sing and write songs about things I know, and I don’t want to ever feel fraudulent because I’m spouting some nicely put together lies.
After being in a handful of bands, what inspired you to finally go solo?
The past bands I’ve written songs in and sang in were still a byproduct of me recording stuff alone in the same basement I record in now. There were some rotating casts of friends but I genuinely feel like I’ve been makin’ BOYO stuff since I was a kid.
What does the story behind naming your latest Me, Again cover photo? Is that you as a child?
Yeah, I was about 5 or 6. It was for my older brother’s photo project. He borrowed a film camera from a friend, and that was during my Beatles discovery phase, so I was already dressed up for the cameras.
How long was the writing process for your latest album?
Me, Again was written and mixed over the course of about two months while we were getting ready to put out Control. I already have the third LP recorded and am slowly starting the fourth. Since I have the luxury of being able to make stuff, I don’t want to stop.
During recording, who helped with putting together the instrumental side of things?
I either make stuff alone at odd hours in the evening or at slightly more reasonable hours with one of my best friends in the world, Ruben, on drums. He’s in a really great band called Model/Actriz. He’s away at school in Boston but I’m gonna squeeze him when he gets back home.
You released Control and the EP Machines last year. Do you prefer releasing music quickly?
It’s not really a matter of preferring it or not, I just really like writing songs and recording them; playing drums, playing bass, sampling stuff, messing with sounds. I happen to have best friends that own a record label that support me and let me put those songs out.
How did you get involved with Danger Collective Records?
I met Jai in High School when I was around 16 and Reed through mutual friends soon after when I was 17. They’ve both been in my corner and thought I wrote cool songs and helped me regardless of any outside influence. I’m indebted to them always.
Are there any plans in the near future on doing some touring?
Touring would be nice. I also want to write a movie, finish the 3rd BOYO LP, and get better at animating. 2018 is a little unknown to me right now and that’s nice.
BOYO’s latest Me, Again is out now via Danger Collective Records.