An indie musician who merges hazy and fuzzy textures in his ruminative, melodic songs, BOYO is the pseudonym of multi-instrumentalist Robert Tilden. They made their full-length debut with Control in 2016, following it with a rapid succession of home-recorded tracks, EPs, and albums while Tilden was experiencing unexplained seizures. A diagnosis and treatment regimen came with side effects that left them largely homebound, resulting in recordings including their fourth album, 2020′s Where Have All My Friends Gone? The energetic dance-rock set Echoes Like Memories appeared in early 2022.
A Los Angeles native who knew from grade school that they wanted to be a musician, Tilden first garnered a modest but dedicated following with Bobby T. and the Slackers, a garage rock band they formed in West L.A. as a 16-year-old. With Tilden singing and playing guitar, the core lineup also consisted of bass player Alex Gordin and drummer Ruben Radlauer. The group put out the Peach Fuzz EP in 2013, following it with the Basement Tapes EP. The full-length cassette Friends arrived on Big Joy Records in 2013. A year later, Danger Collective Records issued an expanded version of Peach Fuzz.
With a focus on textured production and instrumentation accompanied by notably intimate lyrics, Tilden began recording songs under the BOYO moniker in 2016, delivering the debut album Control that August. It featured guest drummers on most tracks but was recorded and largely performed by Tilden. The Machines EP followed two months later, and, consisting of material from the Control sessions, the EP Golden Days (B-Sides) arrived in mid-2017. It was around this time that Tilden began having unpredictable seizures.
BOYO had a productive year in 2018, beginning with January’s Me, Again, their second full-length. Much like Control, it was recorded by Tilden, with guests on drums (Radlauer and Gabe Stout). A few months later, Tilden collaborated on a song with singer/songwriter Dent May called “Take Me Away,” and another set of B-sides, You Left the Lights On, followed that July. BOYO’s third album, Dance Alone, saw release in November 2018.
In 2018, Tilden also received a diagnosis of an acute form of epilepsy and started on prescribed medications that caused uncontrollable shifts in mood. Staying home most of the time and feeling increasingly isolated, the musician focused on making music alone. Meanwhile, BOYO released February 2019′s You & Me EP and April’s BOYO EP. Their third EP of the year, Waiting Rooms EP, appeared that July alongside the three-track Dose EP. Citing Bradford Cox (Deerhunter) and Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) as influences in giving equal attention to songwriting and production, they continued to develop their songwriting on the You Don’t See Me EP, issued in December 2019.
Tilden sneaked out a couple of self-released tracks under the alias Friendly Ghost in early 2020, then, having signed with Park the Van Records, BOYO returned with the long-player Where Have All My Friends Gone? in June of that year. It was produced by Tilden and Chad Copelin (BRONCHO, Sufjan Stevens), who also co-mixed the album. Six months later, they followed up with the lighter Alone Together in Los Angeles. Recorded in just a few weeks with collaborator Hudson Buckley, 2022′s Echoes Like Memories was an upbeat dance-rock record. ~ Marcy Donelson