Interview : We meet Boyce Avenue, the worlds biggest independent band

Interview : We meet Boyce Avenue, the worlds biggest independent band

Boyce Avenue are brothers Alejandro, Daniel and Fabian. Hailing from Sarasota, Florida, the brothers first came together as a band in 2004. In 2007, in an effort to share their music and ideas with the world, they decided to start filming and posting videos on YouTube of their own songs and some of their favorite songs by other artists. The videos resonated instantly with YouTube viewers and to date, the band has over 2.5 billion views on YouTube and over 8 million subscribers to their channel, making theirs one of the most frequented channels worldwide on YouTube. They’re also one of the most streamed music acts on Spotify, with over 200 million streams in 2015 alone. They’re officially the biggest independent band in the world and have their Guinness World Record to cement this. They’ve also toured with One Direction, recorded with Fifth Harmony and were vocal coaches on the US version of X Factor.

For someone just discovering your music, how would you describe it?

All : We have a very pop/rock, but acoustic driven sound. We try to focus a lot of organic instruments, like acoustic piano and acoustic guitar. We gravitate towards a kind of four-piece sound for our live shows. On our YouTube channel we do lots of cool acoustic covers and arrangements.

You’ve covered songs by lots of British acts, like Adele, Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran. How important is British music to the band?

Fabian : When we first started playing, a lot of our favourite bands, and they still are, were Coldplay and Oasis, to Muse and Keane, and more recently there’s a lot of great new bands like 1975 and people like Passenger. There’s always been lots of really great music coming from the UK.

When we first started there was something kind of cool about it. It was edgy rock, but also very melodic and it had great melodies. I think that’s why I gravitated towards Oasis. They are super edgy and rock, but they have so many great lyrics and choruses.

Who’s your current favourite British act?

Daniel : We still really love Coldplay. Every album they do is unique and they’re changing the game. From a pop standpoint, the One Direction boys. They’ve done it so well. We’re looking forward to listening to Zayn’s new music. Whether it’s pop, rock or dance…the UK has always had such a strong presence on the music scene. And obviously Adele!

EQUALITY NEVER SLEEPS : BOYCE AVENUE WITH OUR MESSAGE BOARD.

“Our parents kind of adapted to what we were in to, when we were in to it. They always believed in us getting an education – that was really important.”

Growing up, were you encouraged to follow your music dreams by your family or were they keen for you to get a 9-5 job?

Daniel : A little bit of both. Our parents kind of adapted to what we were in to, when we were in to it. They always believed in us getting an education – that was really important. I was so close to almost finishing education and Fabian was practically done. That was always their goal, for us to do as well with our studies as we could then we could do what we wanted, that was their rational. As soon as they realised we loved music and we were doing it as a family they were very supportive. They thought as long as we were doing something together that we’d be successful and happy.

500+ million Spotify streams, 2.5+ billion YouTube views and over 8 million YouTube subscribers…How important are accolades to the band?

Fabian : Even that has evolved. Initially we were keeping an eye on every comment and measuring it. It was so novel and exciting. Things are just as exciting now, but just in a different way. We’re excited about what the next album going to be like, thinking about the next tour…and our longevity…the next really cool thing we can do on YouTube to shake things up. We’re not reading every comment now – it would take too long.

VIDEO : BE SOMEBODY

VIDEO : 7 DAYS [CRAIG DAVID COVER]

Your covers are fantastic. Can we expect any new original music in the near future?

Alejandro : We’re just about to release a new studio album. For the last year we’ve been touring our ‘No Limits’ EP. Our new album is called ‘Road Less Traveled’ and it comes out worldwide, physically and online, on April 15th. Right now we’ve actually been selling it at the live shows across Europe, as an exclusive for our fans who’ve been supporting us. It’s all happening right now.

We released the first single ‘Be Somebody’ some time back, the video has just been released. We’re just pushing it to radio now. There are so many exciting things happening for us right now in the original music scene. We’re excited to see where it goes and how it goes down. There are lots of original songs on the album that we think have the potential to be big singles.

Our first album ‘All We Have Left’ was very emotional and acoustic driven, and very much like who we were at the time. It was what we’d been writing and saving up for since we started the band. ‘No Limits’ was then kind of a departure, where we tried lots of experimental things, and a few tracks were almost EDM sounding (ish), very up-tempo and pop tracks. Then we have the new album, ‘Road Less Traveled’ where we have songs like ‘Imperfect Me’ and ‘Anchor’ that have an up-tempo and pop vibe, then we have songs like ‘Giving Up’ and ‘Family’ that are very acoustic, emotional and heart wrenching. It’s a good mixture. I think it’s a perfect mix of the sounds of the music we’ve done over the last eight or nine years.

How do you approach the songwriting?

Fabian : Alejandro is definitely the lead writer, but musically speaking we all have different skills that we bring to the table. Alejandro is the main songwriter and lead singer so lots of the album is written by him. There’s also songs written by me and Daniel, and us as a group too.

Alejandro : It’s cool that we also have our own studio now in Sarasota. I’ve noticed the difference with the new album, compared to our previous releases, that the three of us are a lot more hands on with the production of the music. It really doesn’t matter who wrote what because at the end of the day we all get together and decide all the details together, which dictates the final sound of the songs, and what makes the album.

“Music, you’ve got to really be inspired and be ready to do it. When you’re not mentally ready, it doesn’t matter if you’ve booked the studio time or not. You can force yourself but the music comes together when it’s the right time.”

What’s it like having your own studio?

Alejandro : You have to be a little harder on yourself on the time management side, but we got to that point even when we were paying for studio time.

Fabian : Music, you’ve got to really be inspired and be ready to do it. When you’re not mentally ready, it doesn’t matter if you’ve booked the studio time or not. You can force yourself but the music comes together when it’s the right time.

Alejandro : That’s what’s cool about having our own studio. When we had an idea and we got to the studio at 12pm, from 12pm til 4pm, and we’re not really feeling it, that’s unfortunate as with a pre-booked studio we’d have to leave for 8, we’d have to be out as the guys have to close up and go home. But at our own place, if the inspiration hits at 8pm, our engineer is the man and he’ll stay late, to like 1am, and we’ll knock the music out.

Daniel : He’s been with us a long time.

Is it difficult not having your family with you on the road?

Daniel : Our family are with us now. We try to make it work. I have three young sons. The boys spent the night on our tour bus last night, which made their week.

Alejandro : We try to split things up. If it’s a three-week tour, maybe the first week we’re away with just us, then the middle week they’ll join us….

Fabian : When we’re touring Europe or North America they’ll always try to join us for a week, to ten days.

Alejandro : It’s easier as we’re all brothers. If we were three individual people with different families it could get a little chaotic, but it works.

VIDEO : THINKING OUT LOUD [ED SHEERAN COVER]

VIDEO : WANT TO WANT ME [JASON DERULO COVER]

“Our parents were always really good about the combination of ensuring we knew what our strengths, and our limitations were. I think this a huge thing. A lot of people just focus on strengths but don’t realise their limitations. I think that’s a huge part of why we’ve been able to do what we do.”

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Alejandro : Our parents were always really good about the combination of ensuring we knew what our strengths, and our limitations were. I think this a huge thing. A lot of people just focus on strengths but don’t realise their limitations. I think that’s a huge part of why we’ve been able to do what we do.

Even if I’m good at music, I know I have several other weaknesses that my brothers fill. Down to everything from hiring a studio engineer or videographer, you can’t possibly do it all, especially in todays day and age. We have to wear so many hats so it really is about teamwork. It doesn’t matter how strong you are at certain things, there are always going to be weaknesses so you need to build a team. We were definitely taught that from a young age. I think that’s why we always respected each other growing up. It’s helped a lot.

What are you most proud of?

Fabian : For me there’s two different parts to that. On a personal level I’m proud we’ve all been able to maintain the personal relationships in our lives. Whether that’s the relationship with me and my wife – I got married in 2008 but we started dating in 2002. I was 16 and I’m 31 now. The fact we’ve been able to build the band over the last 9/10 years but we’ve also kept a very healthy marital relationship and I’ve stayed so close to my brothers and parents at the same time. If anything, the band has intensified those relationships.

On a professional side with the band, I guess it’s the longevity. We’ve seen a lot of other musicians and Youtuber’s who have burst on to the scene and then disappeared quickly or dwindled. They have one viral video and then struggle to duplicate that. For us it’s been a consistent ride.

We could have hit three million YouTube subscribers and then kind of rested on our laurels and thought that was cool, not a lot of people get to that level. But the fact it then hit, 4, 5, 6 million…and now it’s over 8 million. Everything has been going pretty good.

And that we still have our health! [all agree]

Boyce Avenue’s current single ‘Be Somebody’ is available to stream and download now. Their new album, ‘Road Less Traveled’ is released physically and online on April 15th 2016. Check out their website for tour dates.

KEEP CONNECTED WITH BOYCE AVENUE :

boyceavenue.com

About The Author

Thomas Anderson

Founder and MD of Inclusive Networks. Thomas was Chair of the award winning LGBT network for The Co-operative Group, ‘Respect’ (2011-14). Thomas named the network and designed and managed all of the branding, communications and engagement until he stepped down from the role of Chair in March 2014. He also created the branding, name, was Editor of the quarterly magazine and developed the launch of the UK’s first Inter-Retail LGBT network ‘CheckOUT’. He contributed to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 5 Year review. In recognition of his work in the diversity field he was shortlisted for ‘Diversity Champion of the Year’ at the 2013 European Diversity Awards, shortlisted for ‘Role Model of the Year’ at the 2012 Lesbian & Gay Foundation Homo Heroes Awards and shortlisted for the ‘Positive Action’ award at the 2013 Asian Fire Service Association Fair & Diverse Awards. He also won the 2012 ‘Pride of The Co-operative’ award. He was a judge for Scotland's biggest diversity awards, The Icon Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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