Posted On 10 May 2017
After two years of methodical groundwork and preparation, alternative pop duo Bonelang is pleased to reveal their music video/short film for “Michelada” in its final form exclusively on NPR. The group collaborated with Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist DW McCraven to tell her story about the copious struggles with identity as a queer person of color. The music video/short film is also nominated as a quarter finalist in the ‘Best Dance’ category in the Music Video Underground Festival in Paris. Fans can watch “Michelada” now, here: http://n.pr/2p2rCVQ.
When asked about the making of “Michelada,” Samy.Language of Bonelang said: “‘Michelada’ stems from the many masks of DW McCraven that were created as coping mechanisms to navigate the many identities and/or realities that the world imposes upon them. Bonelang constructed a 25 ft. Venn Diagram composed of sand, soil, stone, cacti, sunflowers, and the skull of a bull. The installation serves as a tool to deconstruct the masks/identities of DW in the name of decoding the illusion of safe space for a queer person of color in America.” Interdisciplinary artist, co-director and starring performer DW McCraven added: “’Michelada’ is a transformative work. Not only does it express intersectionality centered on my present existence, it creates constructive social commentary because of the relationships that were built in the process. Two years of brown queer women collaborating with cisgender men is proof that we can positively coexist when we decide to appreciate, listen, and allow space for each other.”
With the majority of hip-hop leaning towards trap and the like as of late, Bonelang presents a refreshing sound to the genre and popular music airwaves. Though 2014 marks their official start as a duo, they have magnificently grasped the attention of household names on their home turf as well as across the US including Leor Galil, who has followed the outfit’s body of work for several years and recently raved about their latest EP Venn Diagrams Pt. I on the Chicago Reader. In addition, Bonelang has been featured in Uproxx, Pigeons & Planes, DJ Booth, RedEye Chicago, Do312, and Mishka. They are gearing up to perform at the Middle Of The Map Fest alongside Talib Kweli, De La Soul, Anna Wise, Lewis Del Mar, and more.
Bonelang is Samy.Language and Matt Bones. The two have been making music together since the age of thirteen. Their sound borrows from genres all across the board including indie rock, jazz, and rap. For the past three years, they’ve worked ceaselessly on their debut body of work Venn Diagrams which includes three official videos, a four-part short film series, a merch line, a two-part album, and an art book.
The duo released Venn Diagrams, Pt. I, the first installment in a series entitled The Year Of The Sunflower, earlier this year on February 13, 2017. The 6-track EP was launched independently. Every song was recorded on a computer built by Bones. Bones additionally created the acoustic paneling that treats the majority of the space. Together they reside in their home studio – living and breathing their music and all that encompasses it. Samy.Language states “Recording Venn Diagrams in the home studio has shaped our process into a very meticulous mode of thinking and working. It gifts us pressure-free work space which is an invaluable thing.”
Venn Diagrams aims to celebrate and nurture self-awareness, encouraging one to adopt a more full-bodied disposition of compassion, empathy, and love. Mathematically speaking, Venn Diagrams illustrates relationships between overlapping groups. Personalized, Bonelang’s Venn Diagrams stands to say: “Let us focus more on what we have in common than what we do not.”
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Learn more about Bonelang in the following All Access interview:
What are some words you would use to describe 2017 for this band and your music? What were some of the highlights? What has been the most exciting part about this year?
2017 is the Year of the Sunflower. We’ve worked on our debut body of work Venn Diagrams since 2014. So the most exciting part of this year has been slowly sharing some of the work with the world. We’ve had the opportunity to travel around the country playing this music and it’s been very rewarding.
Growing up, did you all always want to be musicians? Can you recall the moment you realized that you could really make music together and be a band? How did you all first meet each other?
We started making music together and playing in bands when we were thirteen. I don’t think we knew at the time quite how seriously we took it. After all, who doesn’t want to be a rockstar? So I don’t know that our enthusiasm for music became totally apparent – even to ourselves – until we looked back and realized that we had been slaving away for years and that we always put music before other things in our lives. People are quick to discourage kids from pursuing a career in music, so even if it’s something you dream of, you’re made to think that you’re really unrealistic. It wasn’t until we were most of the way through college that we started to meet people who were making a living off of it. At that point, our perspectives changed a lot. We realized that we were lightyears better at music than we were at anything else that could be considered a respectable career. So at the end of college was where we really took the leap and decided that there was no plan B.
Was it hard to narrow down a band name? How did you finally decide? What other names were you considering?
Our stage names are Samy.Language and Matt Bones. So Bonelang was a quick and painless decision. We didn’t toy with any other names. This one felt singular to us and we were quickly married to it.
I’d love to know more about your particular brand of music and where your sound first came from?
Well, we came up making indie rock together and this is Chicago, so of course hip-hop is ubiquitous. We don’t make music with a goal as far as what genre we want the song to be when it’s finished. Everyone is just a collection of their experiences and that comes out on the page when they’re being creative. You could say “you are what you eat”. When we produce music, there’s no way to ignore the fact that we have diverse tastes and eclectic music diets. It’s always going to be sort of a mélange.
Let’s talk about your recently released single, “Mushroom Moon”. Where did the inspiration for it come from exactly? As one of the lyricists of the group, how do you go about putting together the lyrics for your music? Do you tackle each song in steps or another system?
Mushroom Moon is an extremely important song to us. It was originally written as a house track, and from there it was molded and obsessed over for three years before it became what you’re hearing. Lyrically speaking, at it’s base, it’s a break-up song. The philosophical center stems from heartache and helplessness.
Our lyrical process is lengthy and careful. We are constantly writing. So some of the verses on Venn Diagrams were re-worked/re-written five or six times before we were satisfied. We aren’t the first-thought-best-thought type of group.
The song also has our late bass player Mason Cormie on it. He passed last year and this song is a constant reminder of his influence on our sound. Wherever we play it, we play it for him.
I know that you released “Venn Diagrams Pt. I” in February so can you elaborate on your “The Year of the Sunflower” series?
Yes. For a long time we got swept up in putting out as much music as possible. It became sort of a quantity over quality situation. This came from advice we got from some pretty successful local acts and, for them, releasing in volume worked. The quality of their work came from spontaneity and moving quickly, but our process is too painstaking for that. So instead we decided to lay low for a while and make a ton of material up front so that we could release that consistently while working on new shit. This way we get the best of both worlds – quality and quantity. At the beginning of this year we had a full-length record, four short film pieces, two music videos, many visual pieces etc., etc. that we can release over the course of 2017. That all lives under the umbrella of “The Year of the Sunflower”. Now that all that work is already done and set to be released, we’re well into production on our next round of material in the meantime so that when all of this is released, we will have more stuff ready for roll out.
Next month, you will head out on the Middle of the Map Fest. Can you talk about some of the bands joining you? Is this first festival of its kind that you’ve been a part of?
We’re very excited for Middle of the Map. We’ve played SXSW three years running, but this festival is sure to be a great opportunity for us. We grew up listening to Talib Kweli and De La Soul, so it’s an honor to be on the same billing as them. Other acts that we’re excited to see are Anna Wise, Lewis Del Mar, and of course the great Har Mar Superstar.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Who would you all to work with in the future? What would be a dream collaboration for Bonelang?
Some of our biggest influences are Brand New, Kate Tempest, and Sampha. My dream collab would be with Jesse Lacey of Brand New. Spending a day in the studio with that group would be unreal. They’ve had a monumental influence on us lyrically and I’d love to see what’s in their notebooks.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people take away from your songs?
The message of Venn Diagrams is that we should focus more on what we have in common than what we do not.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about this band or your music?
Nothing that we put out is an accident. Everything has been done with the greatest intention and fleshed out in many stages. Bonelang cares deeply about your experience with our music. We work with diligence and discipline and it’s apparent in the product. We’re chomping at the bit to show you all what we have in our arsenal. The best is yet to come.