Since forming in 2009, Brisbane-based septet Boss Moxi have mastered the art of crafting cinematic music. It’s the kind of music you get lost inside of—it’s sprawling and immersive, like a new sonic universe. Their aim isn’t just to create music, but to create an experience.
With this in mind, it only makes sense that for their next album, Egotoxin, they’d release an accompanying graphic novel. So before they release the album, we caught up with band members Brayden Doig (frontman/graphic novel writer/illustrator), Alex Flamsteed (drummer/project producer), and Daniel Milad (bassist/sound engineer/graphic novel co-writer) for a chat.
Before they embark on a run of stripped-back shows, we caught up with Boss Moxi to chat about their upcoming album and graphic novel, Egotoxin.
HAPPY: Hey, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?
DOIG: Good mate, in the thick of it all. Just conquering page by page, spread by spread of the Graphic Novel amongst trying to get the release of this project off the ground. It’s become a full-time commitment, for myself anyway. It’s nice to know we’re playing some shows soon, they may not be the full-scale live show but I think we’re pretty excited to get back on stage, it’s good for our sanity and helps us call ourselves an actual band.
HAPPY: Let’s talk about the new album, because the concept is so great. Where did the idea come from to accompany the record with a graphic novel?
DOIG: The idea for the Graphic Novel came from the music. When we finished recording the drums and beds in late 2017 we were already talking about how to release Egotoxin and what we could do to help its success. The album is one unbroken piece of music, so naturally its undeniably visual, it felt like the score to a film or something similar, this is essentially where the idea came from. After we had a basic recording down we literally sat back and let the music paint the scenes, the characters and eventually tell a story. The whole process happened rather instinctively. We’re hoping we can repeat this process each time, meaning yes, we’re planning for prequels, sequels and everything in between – a whole world of stories to accompany our future albums.
HAPPY: When you were constructing this album, what came first? The concept for the album itself, or the concept for the graphic novel?
MILAD: We started it all with just a few songs. We knew we wanted to challenge ourselves with this album, we wanted a non-stop piece of music, so we began to write the interludes and bridge the songs together piece by piece. After running with a few certain themes we realised there was a narrative present throughout the piece. The story was written by the music, it was just a process of uncovering the intricacies for ourselves. The idea of a graphic novel came after that, as a way of further engaging with our audience. It’s mainly the artistic capabilities of Doig that warranted the Graphic Novel but I guess we wanted to give the audience more of an insight into what inspired the music and the emotions explored in writing and recording this project.
HAPPY: What kind of themes did you look to explore in this new album? …and how do you feel the visual component helped you explore them?
DOIG: Moxi has always in one way or another explored the same kind of themes; greed, growth, corruption and other byproducts of a modern, western world, history, the human condition and the existential crisis that comes with an otherwise fairly privileged upbringing – these are all themes we carried through this new record, Egotoxin. The visual component is almost necessary now, the album is audibly deep and thought-provoking, so giving the audio a visual context makes for a pretty unique experience, and an experience is more what we’re trying to offer.
HAPPY: It seems like the visual side of your music has always been a consideration… do you feel like visual accompaniment enhances the listening experience?
DOIG: Of course. We’ve got so many crazy ideas on how we can make our music more than audio, how to immerse the listeners, take them to another world. We are however extremely independent, being that we currently fund these things ourselves and all of this content comes from the hard work and investment of the members involved. We’d love to explore Virtual Reality, the art of troubadour, theatre and projection mapping but we first need to find the means and relationships to pull these things off. We’re sticking to what we know we can do for now, which fortunately for us is illustration, storytelling and working with local talent and friends to pull off awesome shows in our hometown.
HAPPY: So this album has been in the works for two years, right? Could you try and walk us through the process of how it all came together?
ALEX: The groundwork and writing of this album actually started in India in 2016, although we didn’t know it yet. Doig and I were in India shooting a pilot episode for a TV docu-series called METHOD TO MY MADNESS with Natalie Sim and Jacob Ogburn which was to follow us building an entire new band from scratch by picking up members from all around the world. That project was the first time Doig and I had properly worked together as musicians and we instantly locked. It’s was a wild trip and we wrote some cool bits of music with some crazy people all around India, bit’s of music that would eventually find they way into Egotoxin.
When we returned to Australia the long and unpredictable process of editing, pitching and funding of the TV show started and Doig and I couldn’t wait through all the paperwork. This is when we started working on Egotoxin officially, we had to put the inspiration from India into something.
It started with the two of us jamming ideas on an acoustic guitar and drum pad which quickly led into late night jams at Bedlam Records. Over a quite short but intense period of time, the basic structure of the album as it is today took shape. From here Doig, Dan and I jammed it as a three-piece and got it feeling like an album. Over the space of a few months, we added keys (Morgan Brown, Shady Bliss), lead guitar (Daniel Grima, Twin Haus), cello (Josh Rivory, Biology Of Plants), sax (Jules Palmer, Bullhorn and every Brisbane band) and the list goes on. The full recording process of this album is enough to give you anxiety… so we’ll leave it for another time. But in short, it included over 35 Brisbane musicians, 24 months of writing overdubbing and recording in 5 separate studios with 3 super talented engineers aided by a shit tonne of beer and cigarettes! But we’re here now, and it’s almost ready to be listened to ; )
HAPPY: Were there any particular artists that you were listening to during this time that you feel influenced the record?
ALEX: Individually as musicians, as there’s so many of us, the influences would be far too different to even attempt to put my finger on one artist. But after Doig and I saw Nick Cave’s film One More Time with Feeling, Egotoxin most definitely had a lot more drive and energy behind it. That movie and album raised the bar so high that we had to attempt something huge of our own.
HAPPY: For the launch shows, you’ll be performing half-acoustic versions of the tracks. Why choose to reimagine the songs in this way?
DOIG: The full-scale live show is immense – it’s how the album was essentially written and how it is best experienced. We’ve made it important however to be able to adapt everything we write into this stripped back, semi-acoustic performance. I think if what we’ve created can be adapted into an acoustic show which is much more delicate and intimate than it’s a solid indication that the songs we’ve written are where we want them to be, versatile and adaptable. It’s also important for us to be able to interact with the audience at shows, which when you’re performing nonstop for an hour on the big stage becomes almost impossible to do. These semi-acoustic shows allow us to chat and interact with our beloved fans and I think that’s definitely important.
HAPPY: Finally, when will we be able to get our hands on one of these graphic novels?
ALEX: Our plan is to release the album and the graphic novel together. The album’s finished and the graphic novel isn’t far behind. But the actual release date is not yet set and we’re in the middle of trying to figure out the best way to do it. It’s not like releasing your standard singles, this is a mammoth amount of content to consume so it has to be released strategically. If we’re going to make something different it needs to be thought about differently. Any ideas haha?
Boss Moxi will be performing a string of exclusive, stripped-back shows over April and May, previewing material from Egotoxin. Catch them live at any of the following dates:
Wednesday, April 17th – Lefty’s Music Hall w/Suicide Country Hour & Strange Seed
Saturday, April 27th – Heya Bar – Fortitude Valley w/ Babyshoes, Last Lakes & Madalene
Thursday, May 2nd – CYKAS – Woolloongabba (exclusive show)
Friday, May 10th – The End – West End (exclusive show)
More info here.