Article and Photo by Jess Post
It was a cloudy Thursday night as indie supporters slowly began dropping into the Metro, awaiting Junior Boys. Composed of Jeremy Greenspan as lead singer, bass, and piano lead, John Dark as the rhythmic mastermind, Dale Butterfield on drums, Colin Fisher playing both guitar and saxophone, and Matt Didemus composing synth beats. Prior to the show, I was able to sit down with the talented and friendly Jeremy Greenspan and his unique blend of electronic and lo-fi pop that has nostalgic elements from the late 90s.
Starting on the antiquated website known as mp3.com uploading beats. As a revolutionary streaming platform, this Bandcamp-like website created the perfect platform for Jeremy to upload different genres of music under different pseudonyms. One of them being “Junior Boys” which reminded Jeremy of a teenage boyband. With this team-based mindset that comes with a name like “Junior Boys”, the band members have swapped out. However, these harmonious rhythms have not ceased over the decades.
Junior Boys, though not the name that is most fitting for their band, is what Jeremy Greenspan himself noted to be “ungoogleable” and makes his music that much more artisan. The Junior Boys that took stage on March 2nd were not met with the same eagerness about lo-fi music. “In the late ’90s, we wanted to do a band that’s unapologetically R&B pop but that has this dance music and new wave influence. That sounds normal now, but 20 years ago that was kinda weird.” Starting his teenage years in England, Jeremy was graced with the chance to meet Steve A.K.A. Kode9, a prominent member of the early U.K. dubstep scene. With his new understanding of music, Jeremy heads back to Canada where Junior Boys formed.
At the time, Steve was running a blog known as HyperDub, and Jeremey and John sent Steve some of their tracks to reach a greater, international audience. Nick Kilroy soon heard these tracks and immediately fell in love with the mixture of new-wave electronic and emotional orchestral undertones. Kilroy reached out to them, and soon started his own label and signed Junior Boys as their first act. Together, they released their first 2 EPs and their first album, Last Exit. Kilroy, unfortunately, passed away at the end of that album cycle. Matt Didemus joined Junior Boys soon after and Junior Boys began to build their discography with the support of Nick Kilroy.
The opener did not take time to start, and at 8 pm Hagop Tchaparian took the stage. As Tchaparian cycled between ambient beats and crescendoes of fast-paced beat drops, attendees coming in numbers tried to avoid the urge to dance. Through their onstage exchanges was clear that Tchaparian was a friend of the Junior Boys members and produced amazing harmonies. Dressed casually in a Thrasher hoodie, this artist needed few accessories to perform and his quality of musical talent outweighed his quantity for instruments.
The Junior Boys are wrapping up their tour now and this was one of their final shows. To the sound of Hagop Tchaparian filling up the entirety of the Metro, the audience felt well prepared to see the Junior Boys. As the instruments including several keyboards, drums, headless guitar, bass, and saxophone appeared on the stage, there was clear anticipation from the fans of this indie band.
With Dale Butterfield on drums, Colin Fisher playing both guitar and saxophone, Matt Didemus composing beats and playing amazing harmonies, and Jeremy Greenspan manipulating the bass and keyboard, this band looked set for a great show. Greenspan is a band member who is known for effortlessly singing deeply emotional lyrics that bring the music to another level. After waiting in anticipation for what felt like hours, Junior Boys came on stage and opened with their 2011 track, Playtime. Previously, I asked Greenspan about which of his songs he is most proud of. “Of the songs that are not on the new album, there’s a song we open this set with called ‘Playtime,’ which is from our 4th record… It also has this piano melody that I played with for years and years.”
Their set began very mellow and quiet, but the R&B and techno-pop influences of Missy Elliot and Yellow Magic Orchestra grew more potent as the show progressed. With saxophone solos sprinkled throughout the show, Colin Fisher provided a jazzy influence to the show. One of which was during the title track of their newest record, Waiting Game. With visuals that engaged with the beats of the band’s most notorious songs, the band did not need much to have such engagement with the audience. This show, a conclusion of their tour and a reflection of their expertise in music for the soul, made for a great experience.
As I concluded our interview, I asked Greenspan to pick an animal that he felt best represented Junior Boys. He immediately answered some sort of bear. After some deliberation, we landed on a red panda. Because Jeremy brought up bears, I asked him if he had seen the new comedy thriller, Cocaine Bear. Jeremy remarked that while he has yet to see it, he remembers playing a show about fifteen years ago at a venue owned by someone involved in the incident. Which is where they first heard the story of the Cocaine Bear. “We were really into Cocaine Bear before it was cool,” he chuckled.
Junior Boys put on a show which had the audience entranced by the raw musical talent of this band. From electronic to acoustic vocals, Junior Boys showed their ability to engage with listeners. We at WLUW would like to thank Jeremy for offering to be interviewed and the Metro for creating such a welcoming space for the musical talent showcased by Junior Boys.