Chelsea Jade and Boyboy Take Their Chances in LA
Singers Chelsea Jade Metcalf and Sam McCarthy, who goes by the moniker Boyboy, explain why leaving New Zealand and relocating to Los Angeles has made them better songwriters.
Metcalf was used to the industry’s eyes and expectations being on her in her hometown of Auckland. Moving to the United States in 2015 meant freeing herself of the well-worn path she’d cut through the city, and now she’s writing the songs she’s always wanted to for herself, and for others, often with musical – and romantic – partner-in-crime, McCarthy.
The couple moved to Los Feliz when the flat they were sharing with a revolving collection of newly-transplanted New Zealanders in nearby Echo Park split up.
They describe their new home as sitting smack-bang in between two very different extremes of American life. Up the hill, is an affluent gated neighbourhood. Below, a “more diverse” lower socio-economic area. It’s inside their building that really matters, though. To Metcalf’s delight, the 1927 apartment is not only rent controlled – “so they can’t make it heinously expensive” – it’s also an oasis.
McCarthy moved to Los Angeles in 2013 as a bit of an escape. He’d been part of punk-poppers Goodnight Nurse (also the breeding ground of famed New Zealand producer and Lorde collaborator, Joel Little), before splintering off into the award-winning duo Kids of 88. Now he’s rebranded himself as the solo project, Boyboy.
“I felt like I was maybe suffering the small community that is the New Zealand music scene. It’s a blessing and a curse – it’s very nutritional to be able to grow something, but maybe the roof of the greenhouse is not very tall. You can reach a limit,” he explains.
Of course that’s fine in theory, and McCarthy admits the reality of becoming a small fish in a giant pond was confronting.
“That was a bit hard at first, because I wanted to use the ‘don’t you know who I am?’ card, but then it did this 180, and it turned in my favour, where I realised I could experiment and try things out that I was maybe a bit afraid of doing [in New Zealand] incase it rocked the boat. That feeling of being anonymous is really helpful.”
Metcalf admits the move to LA has been difficult at times.
“I’ve had very low moments there, but it equals out because I’ve learnt so much,” she says. “The ambition you require purely to survive here is immense. I no longer entertain the romanticism of muses – you get out what you put in, it’s relative to the amount of work you put in. You have to do it, if you want to pay the rent.”
Metcalf’s debut album will be released in 2018, and McCarthy has released a handful of singles as Boyboy.
Chelsea Jade and Boyboy will perform at Wondergarden at Silo Park, Auckland on New Year’s Eve.
Original article by Bridget Jones, Sunday Star Times, Stuff, December 15, 2017.