Misty Boyce

by Corey O'Flanagan

Misty Boyce on performing with Sting and rethinking Genesis in the #MeToo era



Misty Boyce is a singer-songwriter who hails from New Mexico. After spending seven years working her tail off in New York City, she now calls LA home and has found her place in the music industry of the West Coast. Besides being a prolific solo artist, Misty has also toured with acts such as Lord Huron and Ingrid Michaelson, not to mention a stint doing the halftime show for the NCAA basketball tournament with none other than Sting!

In this episode of the Songfacts Podcast, Misty talks about her upbringing and musical journey, and performs a song from her new album, Genesis, which drops September 25, 2020. Some choice bits from the conversation are excerpted below.


Background

Mom and dad both dabbled in playing. My dad would play some Elvis songs on guitar and I remember really resonating with that. So that's probably where it started, but it really kicked into high gear once Mariah Carey came onto the scene. Wow, I just totally fell in love with her. I was singing everything she was singing but that's probably impossible as a seven-year-old. But in the shower, I thought I was hitting all those notes. So she was the beginning of me wanting to be a performer.

My parents got me and my brothers into T-ball and piano, and they're like, "We'll see which sticks. Are they athletic or are they musical." I picked music and my brothers picked sports.

I grew up in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I really hated LA and the idea of California at first because it was so close to home and I just wanted something entirely different. So when I left home at 18, I went to college in Ohio and then I moved to New York City and then I moved to LA after seven years. New York is a rough town to live in if you're not super loaded. It's always a hustle and got tired of the hustle after a while. My friends who were moving to LA were getting work faster and easier and for better pay, so I decided to try that out.


Touring with Lord Huron, Ingrid Michaelson

It's been really educational for me to be that close to super successful people and just seeing how they run their business and treat their creativity. I get to be a fly on the wall and just observe what it takes to be successful on that level and I see that it does take a tremendous amount of energy.


Singing with Sting

I did the NCAA halftime show with him. The way those halftime shows work is you pre-record the instruments, so you're miming the instruments at the performance but the singing is all live. So we spent a week in the studio working out the arrangements and then recording the instruments, so I did get to like spend some good quality time with him, which was fucking awesome. It was amazing to open my mouth and then the mouth next to me is Sting's voice. Totally surreal.


Misty's new album, Genesis

In the past I was always talking about real shit, but the music itself felt very heavy and weighed down. My last record was unabashedly about the suicide of my stepfather. And my step-brother overdosed and I was just going through a super dark period of life with so much grief and sadness. I also went through a couple really sad breakups at the same time.

I'm really proud of that record and how it sounds. It was a step up from what I've done in the past and as a performer, I was feeling super strong. I went and toured that record in Germany, and I could tell that I was making a connection with the audience, like I'd really found my footing as a singer and as a performer. I want people to walk away feeling something later.

There is some catharsis in the sadness. I would watch Elliott Smith play any day if I could.



Second grade epiphany

We had a second grade project where they passed out a handful of sheets with career options on them and we were to pick out which one we wanted. Singer was one of the options and I colored it in. I remember seeing it up on the wall next to other people who also chose singer, and I was like, "Those people aren't going to actually be singers. I'm actually going to be a singer."

Two years later in fourth grade I saw a movie called The Thing Called Love, which is about a songwriter who moves to Nashville and tries to make it. I was like, "Oh, this thing in my head is totally possible. I just saw it in a movie."

I just kept having affirmations and then it was Jewel who made me realize you can start out by just taking your guitar and playing in coffee shops. Like, I can do that.

I really wanted to be a singer, but I started to hide behind the piano and thought, "How do I find this path through just playing piano?" So I started playing jazz and then went to college for jazz, even though deep down I always knew I wanted to be a singer and a songwriter. I didn't feel comfortable singing in public and presenting my songs in public, so it took a long time to get the courage to do that. But meanwhile, I was doing music the whole time.

I'm still worried because who knows what's going to happen? I was going to be on tour with Sam Smith this year and then this pandemic hit and all of a sudden that's gone, so that's been quite a hit.


Religious background and song "Genesis (N)one"

I was raised Christian on the Evangelical side. My mom was Baptist and so was my dad but he kind of stopped going to church, but that's a whole other story. I was definitely indoctrinated and drank the Kool-Aid up until about age 22 when I worked at a megachurch. I was the musical director in the church. That experience made me say, "This is a charade." It was a prototype of Joel Osteen - you can copy and paste that guy into 10-12 major pastors at megachurches across the country. It's all the same schtick. They study comedians and it's like a play. They use the music to elicit emotion and then use people's vulnerabilities against them to be like, "You're not enough. You need this and we have it. Pay us money."

It broke my heart to watch something so pure get used against people that way, it totally broke me. So, I was like, 'Fuck this,' and started a very self-destructive journey to find my own truth. I decided to find it by just living.

That kind of cracks open some of these storylines [in the Bible] for me in a new way. Adam and Eve is the first "bros before hoes." They totally threw Eve under the bus, and Adam was 100% complicit in eating that apple.

She wanted to know stuff. That's a great quality. "I think if I eat this I might understand more and I want to understand more." That's a really great quality - why did she get painted as evil?

That's not to say men are evil. No one in this story is evil. Everybody should be celebrated for what they are and not made to feel less than, but it's difficult to have these paradigm shifts, like accepting that you've believed a lie for most of your life. I think for a lot of people it's too hard to look at because it changes everything. I watched it in my own mom with the #MeToo movement. She's had to suffer so much trauma at the hands of men and this patriarchy that looking at it would break her heart again.


Music theory

I love analyzing music theory. I love breaking down songs. I just learned about this Glen Campbell song, "Wichita Lineman." It is so complex and beautiful. You listen to it and it sounds easy breezy, like it would be four chords, and you get in there and it's like, wow.

August 28, 2020
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You can order Genesis and hear more of Misty's music at mistyboyce.com

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Comments: 2

  • Corey from EarthYou got it Zhivko
  • Zhivko from BurgasCool podcast Corey! Keep them comming!
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