Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit


15 January 2014, 14:00 | Written by Phil Gwyn

Apathy’s having a tough time in the press at the moment, but L.A. duo Boardwalk are giving not caring too much a sturdy defence with their languid strain of dream-pop.

After appearing in May last year with the sublime resignation of “I’m To Blame” under a year after forming, the duo’s eponymous debut ambled into the public eye in October, not so much demanding attention as unassumingly going about its business of quietly elaborating the confused and agonising process of a relationship imploding.

It’s a record that’s beauty lies in the paradox of managing to sound detached whilst conveying intensely emotional themes. The blissful breeze of “It’s Over”, for example, seems perfectly incongruous next to the obviously depressing subject matter. That said, there’s a welcome optimism that permeates the album, an attitude that advocates letting the world wash over you so and just getting on with your life; a philosophy that probably could only have been born in the laid-back climes of L.A. Intrigued by the album’s lazy catharsis, we set about firing some questions at the duo, who told us about the role of Korean spas in the making of the album and the unhurried pace of life whilst working in your own studio.

The name, Boardwalk, is pretty evocative for anybody that’s been to L.A., what made you choose it?

Amber Quintero: Picking a name is not as romantic as it seems. Almost everything has a legal conflict. Magically “Boardwalk” didn’t. Also, I happen to come from a beach town and actually my best friend used to make me sing Supremes songs for tips on the boardwalk when we were kids. One time a man threw us twenty dollar bill.

“I’m To Blame”, the first track that arrived on the internet, came with a very complete sound – how long had you guys been together?

Mike Edge: We’d only been together a couple months when we recorded it.

Amber: Mike and I met through a mutual music friend to talk about producing a girl group in which I would sing and Mike would produce. We hit it off right away when we discovered that we both like to read about ancient aliens. We started hanging out and still planned on producing the girl group when Mike played me a track he’d been working on. He asked me if I would try writing melody to it so I went to the Korean spa and put it on repeat in my ear phones. That weekend we went on a road trip and I sang him my melody. We tossed lyrics back and forth and finished “I’m Not Myself” in like 30 minutes. We both had a good feeling about it and decided to do more songs as a duo. We wrote a total of 10 songs and threw them up on Soundcloud. I emailed the link to some labels and we heard back from Stones Throw right away. They wanted to put it out as-is and we liked that idea because we are very lazy.

Was writing an album with such stark and emotional themes unsettling?

Amber: I don’t think writing the songs was unsettling at all, if anything it was cathartic. It’s weird how you can carry on long relationships with certain people and never really go deep, everything stays civilized… That’s not how it was for Mike and I. We exposed each other a little more than you like to be exposed and writing the songs helped us deal with that. Many of the songs are about regret and I think regret is most painful when you are trying to conceal it. It was a relief to write the songs.

Was it something you did together, or did you each bring different parts into the studio?

Mike: I did the music, Amber did the melody and we did the lyrics together.

Amber: Mike had been crafting the sounds for a long time before we met. He had “I’m Not Myself”, “Crying”, “Keep the Wolf” etc. already done as tracks. I took them and listened to them over and over and tried to hear where the song should go.

Stones Throw are an incredible record with a really eclectic roster – how did the relationship with them get started?

Amber: We sent them an email through their website. Almost immediately I got an email back from Jason McGuire saying that he liked it and he’d forward it on to Peanut Butter Wolf. A week later we went into the office to meet everyone. We fell in love with the vibe there.

There are rumours that Amber is a songwriter for hip hop artists and Mike is an “eccentric” mixing engineer…

Mike: That’s not really accurate. I’ve been producing and writing for artists for years. I do record and engineer most of the projects I’m involved with.

Amber: Although he is very eccentric. Also, I’m not a hip hop writer! I spent a year in Atlanta co-writing with James Chambers who is a hip hop producer and a friend.

Do they have any effect at all or is Boardwalk very separate?

Amber: I think they had an effect because they gave us time to figure out what we wanted to put out as artists. Like I said, Mike had been crafting our sounds for years. While he was working with other artists he was developing as an artist. I think we were both holding out for the right project. I had done a lot of co-writing but wasn’t sold enough on anything to put my voice on it until now.

How different do you think it would have been if recorded in a ‘professional’ studio?

Mike: We actually recorded a few of the vocals at Sunset Sound with a mic-pre that I built. But after working in professional studios I definitely think there is something to recording in your own space. You’re not rushing to beat the clock and overall it feels more loose and comfortable. I think you can hear it in the songs.

It’s noticeable that you guys appreciate a visual – the whole feel of Boardwalk almost seems to be summed up by the images you use.

Amber: This type of music is very picturesque. It’s funny how sound conjures imagery and I wonder if there is some parallel between the wavelengths of certain sounds and the wavelengths of certain colours. When we were deciding on album art work we wanted the cover to look like the music. We got Amanda Charchian to do it and I feel like she nailed it. For the cover of our 7″ Mike gets the photo credit. He collects Lomo cameras so we take a lot of pictures.

Boardwalk is out now on Stones Throw.

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