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Glenn Van Dyke and Saara Untracht Oakner were brought together by their love of smoking, surfing, and musical tastes. Even though they were living in separate cities at the time, Oakner in Boston and Dyke in New York, they were still able to find each other.
A show brought them together one fateful night in 2012, when their respective bands shared a bill. They met and realized they were both go-with-the-flow surfers surrounded by a fast-paced east coast environment; they needed each other.
They played their first show on New Year’s Eve, 2013, and have been BOYTOY ever since, with both members writing, singing, and playing guitar.
The band is consistently Dyke and Oakner, but their drummer and bassist switch often–if they even decide to have a bassist. When BTRtoday caught up with the duo they were getting ready to have a double-header band practice, because their next two shows were to be with two different drummers.
Though that sounds like it can be a little hectic, Dyke and Oakner seem un-phased. The duo are used to playing different instruments in different bands themselves, so they understand the whole process.
Oakner went on tour with a band called Habibi where she played bass for them, and when we met Dyke she was playing bass at a show for a band called Las Rosas—so these girls know what they’re doing, and love doing it!
Which makes sense, due to they fact that they both grew up doused in music and acquired skills that made them both multi-instrumentally talented. Oakner can play piano, trumpet, guitar, bass, and drums; Dyke can play guitar, piano, saxophone, and drums—however, guitar was the main instrument that stuck with both of them.
They both write the lyrics and music for BOYTOY, though Dyke confesses she used to be very shy about her lyrics. “I would go in my bathroom and play them to the guitar,” she admits. “I wrote songs about my dog on the family piano.”
BOYTOY has many influences, from The Spice Girls to dad rock like The Eagles and The Rolling Stones, and even country music idols like Merle Haggard. The music is a combination of melodic beats and fast guitar riffs with catchy lyrics. Take for example, their song “Postal.” Not only will it get stuck in your head forever, it’ll make you want to scream the lyrics at the top of your lungs while simultaneously wanting to lay on a peaceful beach and watch the waves go in and out.
Their music video for that track is a must watch. The two both agree that they love making music videos, and urge all to search them on YouTube. “Search ‘BOYTOY band,’” Dyke suggest. “Otherwise you might get some weird stuff.” They both also acknowledge that the “Postal” video is particularly “pretty crazy.”
“We basically brought in props and were like, ‘what’s the weirdest thing we can do with this?’” Oakner tells BTRtoday. “It’s hard to explain without watching it.” They plan on releasing two more videos by the end of summer.
Along with the new music videos, BOYTOY is also working on songs for a new EP or full-length album. Their last EP, self-titled, was released in 2014, followed by the release of their full-length album, “Grackle,” in October 2015.
Oakner explains that their self-titled EP had a more ‘90’s grunge vibe, while their full-length album, “Grackle,” seemed to take a more rock and roll vibe with some ‘60’s surf rock. “It’s kind of reminiscent of The Ramones—fast bing-bang-boom songs,” she says.
They describe their creative process as very collaborative. Both of them bring to practice a skeleton of a song that they have created on their own. Together they flesh it out and make the final tweaks to the writing. They convey that they take whatever inspiration they can and thrive on inspiring others.
In fact, Dyke reveals a story about a guy who biked in the rain all the way to their first EP release show in Williamsburg, Brooklyn from somewhere in Connecticut. “This kid shows up, sopping wet, and he’s like, ‘hey, I just biked here for your show,’ and we were like, ‘oh my god, can we get you dry clothes and dinner?’” she explains.
Later on, BOYTOY played in Philadelphia and bumped into that same guy at their show. He told them that the night he biked to their show he realized he wanted to bike across the entire country. So he quit his job, sold all his belongings, and embarked on this epic adventure.
Dyke expresses that she feels honored to have sparked such passion in someone and both her and Oakner would’ve be honored if he told them that BOYTOY was the soundtrack to his grand bike expedition.
Their fan-base seems to be anyone from hip young teenagers, to 60 year-old dads in Rolling Stone t-shirts.
One of their favorite fans is a man named Nigel Rocket, who has a YouTube page where he posts live shows of the bands he follows, including many Burger Record bands. “He’s just this old rocker dude that comes to all our shows whenever we’re in the South,” Dyke says. They’ve seen him at their shows anywhere between Nashville, TN and Athens, GA. “He’s super nice. Total sweetheart,” Dyke adds.
Although they are a NYC-based band, BOYTOY switches back and forth between playing the Big Apple and Boston. Check out their Facebook, Bandcamp, Instagram, and Twitter to see where they’re head to next and what they’re brewing up.
To hear more from BOYTOY, tune into BTRtoday’s podcast The Discovery Corner!