By Jordan Reisman
Photo courtesy of Andi Sapey.
Box of Light from Norwich, UK is unafraid to embrace color. Walk up to any merch table on any given night of the week of a no-name indie band and what do you see? Black t-shirts with white print, 80 percent of the time. Box of Light is looking to switch it up with a little tie-dye, harkening back to the days where we collectively dipped clothing into weirdly colored water at day camp and wore those colors proudly when we returned to school in September.
Though this might seem innocuous at first, speculating over the designs of Box of Light t-shirts, I assure you that it is not. It speaks to a larger, more complete assessment of who they are as a band. With their dynamic and unpredictable frontwoman Anderson, who before starting Box of Light had achieved a bout of YouTube fame, Box of Light likes to let their colors show. They are in a good position right now; having already established a built-in fanbase and releasing a steady stream of “summer fun” singles and videos, Box of Light is ready to take on the world outside of the UK. BTR was able to speak with three of the band’s five members: Connor Etteridge, Adam Soper, and Roz Atwood as they were marveling at their colorful creations.
When asked about what color encapsulates the band, Atwood replied, “Like sunset stuff” and with their videos and general life outlook, it all seems to fall in line with a sunset. With the standard black and white design, Etteridge thinks it’s “not as eye-catching, less room for personality.” It’s also a stylistic decision in that Atwood believes that they are “not that kind of band, you see black and white and you think metal and grunge… we’re not that hardcore.”
Though Box of Light isn’t just about color, it’s about the contents of its members’ respective characters. Frontwoman Helen Anderson would certainly qualify for what you would consider to be a “character” and has no shortage of idiosyncrasies to speak of.
“I’ve known her since she was 14, I think she’s just a very natural performer like even in high school she was very much like, having people watching her and stuff. That’s what she’s about. She’s very easy to watch and you can relax being around her. It’s like a constant performance. I think kids like that make her relaxed as well. She’s got her shit together. She goes mental on-stage,” says Atwood about the elusive Anderson.
Due to this, the band has their own stage arrangement when they play live where Helen is “stomping about… and singing” while the rest of the band is “looking a bit miserable; head down, doing instrument stuff.”
Atwood feels their job is to “provide everything other than Helen” so when their heads are down, it’s really just so they can be as tight as possible with their instruments so as not to miss a step while Helen is doing her thing.
The true beginning of Box of Light was when Anderson met Atwood in high school, and her first impression of Atwood was that she was “really weird, and I was like, ‘I gotta be friends with this really weird kid. She seems really crazy.”
By the time Box of Light came together in 2013, the two had been playing music together “for ages.” Anderson got together with their now-drummer Duncan Baker, and their manager roped in Soper and Etteridge whose reputations for being “really solid, really good musicians” preceded them. Everyone seemed to come together seamlessly a year ago and now they “all live together pretty much.”
Anderson’s “YouTube thing” harks back to the days when she donned “lilac hair at one point” and many of her friends would ask on Tumblr her how she got her hair like that. “Strangers as well,” says Atwood.
In response, Anderson made a video (under the moniker Helen Melonlady) explaining how she did it and the video got “loads and loads of views.”
The series snowballed until it became her living. What does this have to do with Box of Light? Well, because of this YouTube success, it gave the band something of a built-in fanbase. Though it all came as a surprise to her bandmates, being thrust into a community they weren’t previously a part of.
“It’s been really stranger for us because we’ve come into it quite late and it’s like, we’re all of a sudden doing these huge YouTube events which we’ve never done before. They’re a different kind of gig…” says Atwood, with Etteridge cutting in.
“…Where the audience kind of expects to meet the band. They’ll be like, ‘Heeey, hello hello!’ and we’ll just be like ‘…’ It’s definitely a massive boost, we probably owe a massive chunk of our audience to Helen and her YouTube stuff. [Not having to start from nothing] It’s kind of nice because we’ve all done that, we were all in bands before and we’ve done the whole ‘doing all the gigs, all the crappy venues trying to build that fanbase.’ It’s nice to have that to start with,” says Etteridge.
By the time you read this, Box of Light will have no full-length LP to their name but rather a few singles, two of which have dazzling, colorful music videos. The first being the retro-infused “Falling” and the second, the more surfy summer anthem “The Island.”
The band produced the music video for “The Island” themselves, and though they made an alternate video version with an unnamed production company but they decided that the outcome wasn’t really them. This realization came when the director decided to include a scene where Atwood stabbed Anderson to death to which Atwood said, “I don’t think this is what we’re about, really.” They also requested Baker to drag Atwood “by the neck out of a room,” Atwood trying to convince them “this is kind of a song about having fun on holiday.”
What Box of Light ended up going with for “The Island” was a self-produced video in which the members are hanging out in one of Norwich’s lush rolling fields throwing powder paint at each other. By the end, they’re covered in all sorts of colors and now knowing what they turned down you can see that with Box of Light, if there’s no color, they’ll make their own.
Paint with all the colors of the wind with Box of Light by clicking here.
Check out Box of Light’s music and interview on the latest episode of Discovery Corner on BTR.