Girlyboi: Lovebirds Whose Chirps Make Us Dance
Big cities are the ephemeral beacons of romance, flickering like oases to thirsty eyes in the desert. In this case, of course, those eyes are thirsting for love, and that desert is a society barren of it (bear through this metaphor with me, please). And for so many sitcoms, movies, novels, and daydreams, big cities are where lovers meet and birth their ultimate relationship origin story. Afterall, what’s a rom-com if it doesn’t end with the couple sharing an angst-ridden makeout while the city’s winking skyline beams behind them? What’s a rom-com if not the embodiment of unrealistic expectations for love, something constantly setting us lousy lovers up for failure?
For Girlyboi (an American folk-pop duo who have somehow stumbled upon the fortune of being in love with each other), crossing off every rom-com-worthy city together was no biggie. They met in Chicago, then moved to Paris, then London, then New York, and now reside in our very own City of Angels. And, in the thick of it all, Carly Russ and Joseph Matick still manage to produce music together without losing sight of the other (Albeit, with some bumps in the road - literally. See gallery above. See Q&A below.). They’re a breath of fresh air, an oasis themselves in this day and age. For every pair of true lovers, society will give you five terrible Tinder dates. For every authentic couple, society will hand you ten read and ignored text messages.
Ah, to meet and fall in love in fair Chicago and not be star-crossed, wouldn’t that be nice?
First and foremost, how did you and Joseph come to create your band Girl(Y)Boi?
Carly: Long story short, we started dating, and he heard me singing in the shower one day. I’ve been singing since I was in 12, but never competitively. I did it in high school and stuff, but it was so political. It kind of steered me away from pursuing it all together, even after I went to college.
So he heard me singing and he was like, “you have a really good voice” and I got super embarrassed. I’m like, “You heard that?” And he said, “Yeah, I really wanna do something with your voice.” And he was actually DJing at the time, and I was just modeling full time, and he was like, “Do you think if I make a song, you can maybe sing on it?” And I was like, “Um, I don’t really wanna do that.” So we had this idea where we just started listening to music together and writing music together and it worked really well and it was really easy which I was super turned off by it, but when I saw how easy and fun it was, I was like, “I can see myself doing this.” We went into a studio and recorded a few of the songs that I wrote, and those songs will NEVER be released! [laughing]
How long have you guys been dating?
Carly: It’s been a little bit over four years.
How is it, balancing being in a band together and being in a relationship?
Carly: Honestly it’s really hard. At first we kind of underestimated the amount of work we’d have to be putting in. At first we thought, “Oh, this will be so easy. We can be together every day.” But it doesn’t ever really work out like that. We have to separate our relationship from work, because we’ve hit some bumps where we’re not a couple at all and then we really miss each other--like as a couple, instead of a music entity--and we’ve had to have conversations where we’re like, “We need to go on dates and do normal things.”
We have a rule where we work on stuff half of the week, and the other half of the week we go on dates and do fun, normal stuff and little things like grocery shopping. At one point we would hang out and write music together and we didn’t even share a kiss, but we worked through that. And now we’ve got a really good balance, so it’s great. It’s not perfect yet. We work on it everyday, but that’s what makes it exciting, there’s never a dull moment with the two of us.
Joseph: Okay, so, romance to me is almost this like beautiful fictitious type of concept that we live out. And I think like the more that you view and it’s a little bit more lighthearted, the more successful you are at romance. Because, you know, it kind of for the most part is a painful thing. But yeah, I think for GirlyBoi, and what we do, romance is so obviously like a concept of like--all the music is based around it. For us, like when we first started, we got up, moved to Paris and wrote an album (well I just wrote the lyrics) while like we could stare at the Eiffel Tower, and to me that was strictly because it was like the most hilariously romantic thing.
Like overwrought, fun ridiculous, self-aware?
Joseph: Yeah, exactly, so there’s a level of self-awareness that I think is present throughout all of the music.
And what is forthcoming for you guys?
Joseph: So we just finished our first full-length album and we’re getting ready to go on tour in the fall and release it.
You guys have resided in several cities--how has the transition been from living in Chicago, in Paris and now LA?
Carly: I grew up in Chicago. Joe grew up in Indiana, but his dad is from Chicago, so he was out there a lot. His sister also lived there, and we met there, and then we moved to Paris. We wrote our first album there. It was really cool and really inspiring, being in an inspiring city with inspiring writers, not just with music, but authors too. So we wrote that there and then we moved to London for a few months and then we moved to New York before we moved out to LA. And we say this all the time, that California really brought something interesting out from us in a really good way. We have a really special connection with California. Here we produced something we never knew we could produce.
What’s your favorite thing to do during the summer?
Joseph: I mean, we’ve been doing a lot of hiking and camping and, like, stereotypical, sort of outdoorsy shit. Trying to, like, milk Cali for all it’s worth. Mountains, beaches, that shit.
And then as far as the creative process do you find yourself feeling less productive in the summer? Does it turn you on?
Joseph: I think it turns me on. We are in a fortunate enough circumstance where we have free time to be constantly writing and already writing the next album and recording. It’s just for me, like, I’ve never had as much space, like throughout the course of this project. There’s never been this much physical space, and that’s kind of cleared up the room or tension to like just explore.
From your perspective are we living in a New America?
Joseph: No. I mean, sure, circumstances have changed and there’s like an asshole in office and all of that. I think people are--okay, I don’t wanna get too political.
The issue theme, it’s called the Aftershock Issue, New America is the sort of idea.
Joseph: Okay, so I’ll say this, the silver lining of the Trump presidency is that people are talking, you know? I think that if Hillary would have won, no one would’ve given a shit.
I know, the beat goes would’ve just carried on, huh.
A good beat, perhaps, or a more prosperous, or like a more open-minded one.
Joseph: Or comfortable one. Like, it would be comfortable. And I think for Americans, in large part, that’s kind of our downfall, is that we’re too comfortable. We don’t think enough for ourselves. And so when something like this happens, it’s so entirely shocking, the dialogue is constantly present. And for a lot of us it’s just that, it’s just dialogue. People aren’t really doing anything so--I don’t know, I’m not saying to get out there and riot or whatever, but like whatever your thing is, whatever your way of just like voicing yourself or protesting, that’s important because if freedom of speech goes, which it seems like it might go in that direction, then we lose it all.
Who says and does what with the music? Who makes what decisions?
Carly: We have very specific rules, because I don’t know how to read music notes. I do everything by ear, but he’s been writing music his whole life. He writes the melody or the lyrics, and I’ll add to it by what I’m hearing in my head and by my ear and we bring that to life, and I think that’s a really good balance, because I think we’re both really good at music theory. I come in with harmonies and melodies, and he comes in with lyrics and the base of the song.
Where do you guys draw your inspiration from as far as what you put out and share with the world?
Carly: We do kind of have a super old school inspiration going back to what we would listen to with our parents going on high rotation with John Denver and The Carpenters. We listen to them all the time. Recently we watched Walk The Line and we are obsessed with Johnny Cash and June Carter, on a very serious non-basic level. I love them and they really inspire me to be that iconic couple. If we ever make it to that point, that would be an absolute dream, ‘cause they’re amazing!
What gave you the push, how did you know you were ready to share your music with everyone?
Carly: Honestly, it took me a really long time to get to that point. There was always that feeling that I was being too nervous. Sometimes you’re too afraid to be how great you are. Some people don’t have that problem, but some people like myself do. We’re afraid to succeed sometimes-- it’s scary to live up to your full potential. Recently when we moved to California we started recording this album that personally is the best thing we could’ve ever written for ourselves. It was in our full potentials. It was the best album for us, so I think just recently I accepted the fact that this is my future and hopefully it goes how we see it in our heads. I think the more it becomes a reality you’re like, ‘this is actually happening,’ and it’s happening very quickly!
Joseph: Recently, there’s been this nice shift where Carly’s agent’s getting all this work for her. And, for me, that’s wonderful, like I am letting her like kind of take the reigns and describe her perspective. Because ultimately, the project is about my love or affection for this woman, and just like watching her unlock this thing. For me, I’ve always felt like fearlessly creative and have been able to create. And have kind of accepted my ability to do that whereas like, I don’t think she thought it was even feasible to do these things and pursue music as a career. So like watching her finally take that and own that shit is really cool.
Now that you guys have expanded your group with a new drummer, bassist, and song-writer, what can we expect from Girl(Y)Boi in the future?
Carly: It’s really exciting now to have a full band cause I personally feel more comfortable with a bunch of people on stage with me, it feels more natural. They’re all super on board and all really cool guys. It’s very important for people we bring onto our team to feel like a family because I’m super family oriented and I love to feel comfortable, especially when we’re on the road. All of our band members are genuinely good friends of ours and we love them to death. We can spend days and days together and not get sick of them which I think is super important when it comes to traveling together, we all have each others back. We’ll have to see what the future holds. We would love to tour, really reach people with our music and show people it’s ok to be in love and be happy. I’d be happy if that’s all that it did.
To purchase the clothes seen in this feature, visit Diesel here.
Written by Chelsey Sanchez
Photographer: Ian Morrison
Stylist: Soaree Cohen
Model: Carly Russ @ Ford Models and Joseph Matick @ Photogenics Los Angeles.
Hair: Nathaniel Dezan for Opus Beauty.
Makeup: Melissa Murdick for Opus Beauty.