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Interview with Misty Boyce

Misty Boyce

Images and Video by Jan-Willem Dikkers

“There’s never really been a plan B,
and in the moments where I have felt like I should find one,
I have failed at being good at anything else, so this is it.”
— Misty Boyce

Misty Boyce
Misty Boyce is a Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. She has performed with Ingrid Michaelson, Sara Bareilles, Sting and BØRNS. Boyce has released four solo albums, including 2018’s Get Lost.

Misty Boyce recently released her fourth album, Get Lost (2018), co-produced by friend and singer-songwriter Lera Lynn of HBO series True Detective (2014-). The indie-pop record addresses tragedy and loss, drugs and fame—topics indicative of Boyce’s recent experience. In the past few years Boyce has had to cope with the deaths of her stepbrother and stepfather while she was touring the world with major musical acts. Get Lost represents a hopeful attempt to make sense of it all, becoming a much-needed source of healing for Boyce. She spoke with us about her early love of country music, dealing with loneliness, and her introduction to Norse mythology.

Where are you from?
I’m originally from Las Cruces, New Mexico, and now I live in Los Angeles.

When did you start making music?
I started playing the piano when I was five, but I was singing Mariah Carey songs alone in my bedroom when I was three.

Tori Amos
Tori Amos is an American singer-songwriter and pianist from Maryland. At age five, she became the youngest student to ever be admitted to the Peabody Conservatory of Music. She achieved initial success as a solo artist in the early 90s with charting singles “Crucify,” “Silent All These Years,” and “Cornflake Girl.”

Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter is an American jazz saxophonist and composer who came to prominence in the 1950s and 60s. He was a member of several bands: Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Miles Davis’s Second Great Quintet, and Weather Report. Shorter has won 10 Grammys.

Who did you listen to growing up?
When I was really young I was very into pop country singers. Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks were my loves. Then, as I acquired a broader musical taste, I got into Radiohead and Tori Amos—those were the indie people where I was growing up. Foo Fighters was a big one, too. Then I got into jazz, so I started listening to a lot of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock.

“I’d like for my music to be an arm reaching out to people who feel lonely and sad, meeting them where they are and helping them feel less alone and sad.”
— Misty Boyce

How did you get started?
Well, my love for country music introduced me to the idea that you could write songs, so I was like, “That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to write songs.” I started writing songs alone in my room for Reba McEntire. Then Jewel came around, and I started pretending to be Jewel and hoping to live in a van one day, and now my dreams have come true.

What life events have impacted you and your music the most?
I was kind of a lonely kid, and that pushed me to be in my room alone a lot. That’s where my obsession with music started. Life, especially in the last couple of years, got really gnarly with my family, and I’m so glad that I have the outlet of writing songs to kind of process heavy stuff. Death is a big theme in my last record because I lost my stepbrother and my stepfather within a year and a half of each other. That pushed me even deeper into trying to create something beautiful out of something really sad.

What are some things that are important to you that you like to address through your music?
That lonely feeling I felt is a pretty common experience in human life. If anything, I’d like for my music to be an arm reaching out to people who feel lonely and sad, meeting them where they are and helping them feel less alone and sad.

Blake Mills
Blake Mills is an American songwriter, guitarist, producer, and composer based in California. He played in the band Simon Dawes until 2007 before embarking on a solo career. He’s released two albums: Break Mirrors (2010) and Heigh Ho (2014).

Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?
Blake Mills, because he’s the best musician on the planet. He’s a great songwriter, and I’d love to make something with him.

When do you feel you got your break?
Breaks are always happening. Breaks and failures are always along the way—it hasn’t been one moment where I go, “Oh I made it.” I feel like I’m constantly succeeding and failing at the same time.

“I feel like I’m constantly succeeding and failing at the same time. It’s an ongoing ‘making it’ and ‘breaking it’.”
— Misty Boyce

When did you decide that this is what you’re going to do?
I think when I was five. I loved music and always wanted to sing, and when I found out you could write songs, I just wanted to write and sing all the time. In my mind, there was never anything else to do, even though my dad probably would have been happier if I’d been a doctor or a lawyer. There’s never really been a plan B, and in the moments when I have felt like I should find one, I have failed at being good at anything else.

What are your interests and passions outside of music?
I like to philosophize about life. I like to meditate. I like to do yoga. I recently I got into trail running to get outside. It’s really important for brains that tend to dig a little too deep in their own mess. I like reading when I find a good book. That’s hard to find sometimes.

What is your favorite book, film and music right now?
Right now I’m reading a Norse mythology book, which is really fun. The stories we make up to try to make sense of life are really interesting to me, and we used to be a lot more creative with them, so I’ve been enjoying going back and reading about Thor and Odin. Other than that, I’ve been reading a lot of self-help books, which are not as fun to talk about.

How about films and music?
I know this is controversial, but I love Spotify. I love my Discover Weekly. It’s like your favorite friend making you your favorite mixtape every week. Sadly, I can’t name anything off the top of my head that is blowing me away from it recently, but usually when I love something, I look it up and it’s really old, like from the 70s. It makes me feel like a kid again, like I’m discovering music for the first time. I really love digging into that every week. Other than that, I listen to too many podcasts.

For films, I haven’t gotten around to checking out anything new. I love going to movies, but I think that’s mostly because I like being in a dark room with popcorn.

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