Cole Kerrigan, Staff Writer; Angela Francis, Photographer
A close-up of the underground music scene in Boston.
On a cool Friday night, a house-venue known only as the ER hosted a basement concert. An attraction in itself, the ER is decorated with creative art and comical aphorisms, allowing the venue to live as an embodiment of new-age grunge that is reminiscent of old-school punk rock.
Three musicians headlined: Dad Jeans, an electronic alternative performer; Jean-Luc, an upcoming electropop artist; and Cyrus Brxxks, an underground hip hop rapper with an element of punk and electronica. These musicians all performed while friends and strangers alike flooded the house to dance late into night.
Before the show, Off the Cuff interviewed the artists. Each spoke passionately about their art and gave insight into their creative aspirations.
So tell me a little about your stage name, what are its origins?
Dad Jeans: It actually started out as a joke on my radio show. We were saying ridiculous DJ names and Dad Jeans came up and we thought it would fit with an electronic and experimental act—which is kind of what I go for.
Jean-Luc: The name came from my parents. My dad is from the Congo and my mom is from the Bronx. It’s funny cause I always hated my name until recently. Nobody could ever pronounce it because my real name is Jean-Luc Lukunku. People would try. Eventually everyone will be able to say my name correctly, hopefully.
Cyrus: That’s my name, it’s my birth-given name. My mom named me after King Cyrus in the bible. My father’s name is Brooks but I spell it B-R-XX-K-S because there are other people named Cyrus Brooks, I have actually met them.
What’s a big influence for you?—What is your most surprising influence?
Jean-Luc: I’m influenced by so much. I love dance music and my producer is really big with those sounds. My most surpassing influence is probably Lady Gaga. She brought dance music back. People said dance music will never be pop music—and now dance music is pop music! It’s all about innovating and changing even when people think you are stupid or not good enough.
Cyrus: My parents. My dad has a crazy record collection so listening to that for sure. My mom is also a music teacher so I learned a lot. My most surprising influence is probably Bon Iver. When I heard his shit on a blog before he blew up I just wondered what the hell he was. And T-Payne. A lot of people don’t like him and forget that he took it to another level.
How do you think about style and fashion? How does it influence your music?
Dad Jeans: I think it’s a huge part because the whole thing of live music is part theatre as well as music. I am sure a lot of people want it to be just about the music but at the end of the day you are putting on a spectacle for people. I try to look good when I can. I also try to let my music influence my fashion as well.
Jean Luc: I’m definitely influenced by images I see online and in phonebooks. I’m into the ’70s and ’90s look. I am wearing a mixture of both. I’ve got the ‘70s shoes with the ripped flannel which is very ‘90s and my ripped jeans. That’s the aesthetic; I have this pop music but the music is about these punk kids like these anti-kids. The music and melodies are for everyone but the lyrics are for the anti-kids.
What do you want people to get out of your music?
Jean Luc: I want to unite people. I want to be the artist that is the soundtrack to our generation for the next 20 years. When someone from our generation turns 20, I want them to say I used to dress like that and I would go to those places. I want to be a part of my fans and their lives and inspire people to be whatever they can be.
Cyrus: I want people to get story-telling and to just be entertained. I’m a real dude, I am not perfect. If you can’t be entertained or get something positive from my music, just don’t fuck with it…so fuck with my design instead. If you are entertained, I am happy.
What is next for you?
Dad Jeans: I am trying to work on an album right now, I am still forming the shape and story arc. It’s not going to be a concept album. My favorite albums are the ones that are full experiences where you want to listen to it all the way through.
Jean-Luc: I am putting out three music videos. I want to get to the Boston scene and establish something here. I’ll be done with school soon so I will move to LA to do this full-time. I think I have songs that can blow up this year so I am doing everything to push that this year.
Cyrus: I got a project coming out called “I Did it for the Hoes,” and another called “The Legend of David Coffin,” that are all R&B love songs. Next for me is just more and more projects. I’m putting on 20 videos this year, at least.
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