Interview: Boss Moxi
Marrying anime, orchestra and psychedelic rock in an amalgamation of unorthodox story telling, Brayden Doig of Brisbane band Boss Moxi sits down with us to talk everything ‘Egotoxin’. The band’s sensory new project will be exhibiting as the third installment of the In The Frame series at Barbara in Fortitude Valley.
Photography: Thomas Hobbs
Who are Boss Moxi?
We’re coming up to our tenth year. The band started just as any other band would start: you’re a 16-year-old kid wearing quirky clothes and we’d go out to all these events.
We all wanted to make stuff that was a bit different, aggressive and a bit more confronting. We just wanted to play shows. It evolved pretty quickly over time into something that was a bit more avant-garde; it wasn’t something as radio-applicable.
Over the years, any sort of project grows and changes. The original members left after a while, and the band that we’re in now is this kind of perfectly reformed version of what we started a long time ago.
What’s your background with the arts and illustration?
I got a couple design clients who referred me to other clients and all of a sudden I was a graphic designer. This is not something I pursued or planned, it was just like: “Hang on, this is paying me money and my money’s paying my rent - I need to focus on my graphic design”. It was great because I was able to hone a lot of my art skills. I came from traditional fine art with graphite drawings and oil paintings. But oil paints cost ridiculous amounts of money, like canvases and graphite pencils. So after a while I realised: “I can’t do this”. Just like many privileged white boys, I got gifted an iPad for Christmas, and this helped my struggling artistry.
Over the last few years with ‘Egotoxin’, it’s shown me an opportunity that’s like: “Dude, everything that you’ve been learning over all of these years has amalgamated into one project”.
How did ‘Egotoxin’ come together?
Just like how any other musicians would approach the writing of an album, we sat on a couch - much like the one you’re sitting on now - with an acoustic guitar. So we wrote 7-8 songs, as you do, and then put them in some sort of sensical order. Then, rather than calling it there, we were like: “Well hang on, let’s present it. Let’s put all the care and the duress into the presentation of these main eight songs”. So we’d literally take one song and the note that it finished on, and take the beginning chord of the song that followed that, and throw them together or make an interlude or new song, for the purpose of never giving the listener an opportunity to leave.
Presenting them with a narrative means every song feeds off the next, like tapestry. Why not weave everything together? I truly believe in the artistry of displaying an album. This whole narrative and the graphic novel, all of these ideas did not come until we’d sat there with the piece of music and we literally just closed our eyes and were like: “What’s happening here?”. We’d take the audible inspiration of whatever we’d created, and a couple of characters that we dabbled with on the album, and we brought them to life.
Talk us through the animation and graphic novel side of the project.
It’s this very elaborate story about corruption; the big fat cats and Sin City vibes. We wrote this album, then out of the album came this narrative, and through that narrative I elaborated and put it into a film script, and from the film script, that’s when it all clicked. Like fucking hell man, I remember when I was 12 years old I used to draw this little samurai comic with this cool little samurai dude. The stories were probably absolutely terrible, no lineage whatsoever, just cool action scenes that I enjoyed drawing. So it’s interesting to me that it’s come to this. I don’t think we ever intended it to get to this level.
A vision materialised of an opportunity for our band to be not remembered so much for our music, but for the presentation of our music and the attention that we put into the multi-faceted level of what can come from one project. I want this band to be remembered as that band who made the comic books. That’s it.
What is the concept behind ‘Egotoxin’ as an album and project?
The concept is that evil in people is a foreign object; a bug or a parasite. There’s this argument that we’re warmongers, that we come from survival of the fittest; stomp on who you can to get up to the top. I don't believe that humans are innately evil and I won’t believe it for one second. I feel like we’re very toxically confused. So that is kind of the inspiration behind the album.
It’s [Egotoxin] basically an archetype for the cleansing of the ego. Which is kind of like the way out of it all. You know every industry in the world is riddled with something that shouldn’t be there, and that’s the thing we’re trying to challenge, is the idea that we’re not bad people.
Who has been involved in the project?
Dan Milad has been there from the beginning and Alex Flamsteed joined and subsequently reformed the band in 2016. Alex, Dan and myself, being the core of the band, wrote the guts of this new album and brought new members in from there.
The people involved in this band are so wildly talented, and they’ve become involved out of a love of this project and nothing more. People like Josh Rivory, who’s finished his Ph.D. in Ocular Sound, this guy orchestrated the entire orchestral parts yesterday.
It’s very evident that the people involved in the project are there because they believe in the level of artistry that we’re trying to pull off. We want to combine orchestra with psychedelic rock. You know, why the fuck not?
You’ve got Jules [Julian Palmer] the saxophone player. This guy is throwing his saxophone through pedals. He can make sounds from a saxophone out of a Donnie Darko film or the latest paranormal horror film. He plays with Baskervillain and Twin Haus, but he just plays sax. This is the one project where all that money he spent on his pedalboard, he’s actually able to use it.
There’s Morgan Brown from Shady Bliss, who I’ve been playing with for years and years. “Morgan organ”, he rips this instrument. He’s incredible.
The reason why the band has involved the people it’s involved is because the band has provided a space for them to challenge themselves musically and creatively. That is the fundamental core of the band. We will not settle for anything but the hardest thing there is to do. We constantly want to throw ourselves out of our comfort zones. We don’t pay them a cent.
So what does that future hold for you and the band?
We’re going to get the whole entire graphic novel translated into Japanese. We’re going to put our efforts into getting some sort of notoriety in the manga world, because when you talk about Japan, manga gets anyone from 16 to 60. That’s their demographic. We’re talking about millions of people - it’s insane. That’s what we need to tap into. If we’re screwing with the whole graphic novel thing then we’re kind of stupid not to, to be honest. I might go do a stint in Japan soon, go live there for six months. It’s all about retention and relationships if you want to go collaborate with Japanese animation houses. You have to go and develop a relationship with these people, which is why I’m trying to learn Japanese.
Boss Moxi’s exhibition ‘Egotoxin’ will be on show at Barbara in Fortitude Valley from December 5 - 17. Entry to the show is free. For more information, see the Framed Facebook page.
You can see more work by Boss Moxi on their Instagram.