“It’s a beacon of light in the midst of the most exhausting time…(so far! I guess) in my lifetime.
– Jae Matthews – Boy Harsher
I’ve been a Boy Harsher fan since 2018. Aside from 3Teeth, the one commonality between my various playlists was songs from Boy Harsher’s albums. I’m talking all of my playlists from my sleep sounds, meditation, fucking, workout, and “Take me down to LA” soundtrack. Jae Matthews’s voice puts me in a trance. She helps me take myself out of whatever mindset I am in to visualize myself dancing alone in nightclubs. or with her. Combined with Augustus “Gus” Mueller’s morose expression and the endless energy he puts into the electronic sound make Boy Harsher unique and one of the most potent fucking bands of this age we live in.
I only bring up my obsession with Boy Harsher now because I was so thrilled to experience Jae and Gus in their debut short horror film ‘The Runner.’ It’s a visceral soundtrack. I was entranced watching it as I am when I listen to the duo. The film debuted on Shudder on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, and stars the stunning Kris Esfandiari (The Runner), Sigrid Lauren (The Lonely Woman), and more of Boy Harsher’s friends.
What hit me the most was the scene when Jae was asked about the Runner (Esfandiari), the monster, the protagonist of The Runner.
“She’s reckless… out of control… pure evil. There’s a human side to her, too, and I hate to say it, but I can kind of relate. There’s bad nights and things I regret and things I’d like to take back.”
“Do you see yourself in the runner?” The interviewer asks Jae.
She doesn’t answer but, the song ‘Escape’ begins to play and Jae looks directly into the camera while she sings. She penetrated my soul, and I answered to her and myself…
“Yes, I do see myself as The Runner.”
It’s no secret that I suffer from major depressive disorder, severe anxiety, and insomnia. It wasn’t until 2018, when it became so out of control, that I finally sought help but not before allowing the chaos within me to claw its way out. I did some reckless and out-of-control things that I could not take back. I don’t necessarily regret any of it because some of it forced necessary evolutions in my personal life and spirit. And, throughout that time, Boy Harsher was always playing to ground me and ‘Face the Fire’. I try to transmute my pain into beauty, trying to mimic what Jae and Gus have done- Express it via poetry and bloodshed.
In 2020, like all of my favorite bands, the uncertainty of the direction of where Boy Harsher would go became an overwhelming burden. Then, Jae was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis furthering the uncertainty of the couple’s future in music. But, Jae and Gus pushed forward, and in the summer of 2020, they filmed and produced The Runner. This felt like a gift. Though Boy Harsher remained in all of my playlists, I didn’t follow the production of The Runner much on social media. But I’m grateful it found its way into my feed and now my playlist and Shudder favorites.
I didn’t realize Boy Harsher was on tour either. But, they announced their rescheduled dates, and I was thrilled to see that they would be playing in Portland on April 16, 2022, which is nearly three years to the day when I was lucky and got tickets to see them at the Zebulon in LA. Oh, that was an interesting show.
I got there early with the hopes of eating and possibly meeting Jae and Gus. I froze in place when I saw them enjoying some pre-show hangs on the patio. I couldn’t find the courage to bother them. My anxiety was already high and the drinks weren’t helping calm my nerves. You, see the Zebulon is a cafe venue so, it’s quite small. I was worried about crowd capacity but this wasn’t an easy show to get tickets for. But I loved how in-demand Boy Harsher was. This was a moment in time where I was indulging on my own artist discoveries because I was sort-of limiting myself based off on one suburban goth who would poo-poo on any new post-punk band I’d share because if they weren’t from the ’80s and didn’t consist of a drummer, guitarist, bass player in addition to the synth, they weren’t dark wave or post-punk in her opinion.
As I waited patiently for the doors to the showroom to open, I noticed the various kinds of fans of Boy Harsher attracted. The duo doesn’t claim to be any one type of band even though they’ve been labeled as darkwave, post-punk, EDM, electronic, etc. – Boy Harsher has said their music encompasses all of those.
One particular fan from that show told me she flew in from Austria, that day, with the hopes of pleading her way into this sold-out show because she loves Boy Harsher so much. She got in! I caught up with her before they came on stage, and she had Jae and Gus sign her leather jacket. Fucking beautiful!
I wish I could tell you I had an etheral experience to match how I felt listening to Boy Harsher any other time. That show would have been more magical. I tried my hardest to ignore how shoulder-to-shoulder packed the place became when Jae began to sing, and Gus began to beat his electronic drums. At one point, I wasn’t sure if I was standing on a body but, I couldn’t even move to look down. I was squished up against two rolling hipsters with epic b.o., and I’m sure they were fucking while pushed up against me. Cocktail glasses were being thrown, and Jae at one point stopped mid-song to ask the crowd politely not to throw the venues glasses. I’m all for mosh pits and chaos at certain shows, but I wasn’t expecting pure chaos for Boy Harsher. I left shortly before the show was to end. As I walked out, about ten bodies walked in. Fucking gourds! But, I can’t wait to see them in Portland.
In times like these, it feels irresponsible to have hope. But, being given new Boy Harsher offers a glimmer of what could be better times through new music experiences. I will never stop saying that the music I listen to heals. Boy Harsher has been part of mine for years. I hope this expresses my gratitude for Jae and Gus’s unobstructed emotion and art. The stories they share and the support they offer other artists are inspiring. Thank you, Boy Harsher, for The Runner. Thank you for sending angels, so I don’t have to fight.