Boxed In

Boxed In’s Oli Bayston writes wonderful pop songs, inspired as much by his love of krautrock as his penchant for a sly hook. We find an artist unafraid to wear his heart on his sleeve…

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 29 Jan 2015
  • min read
Despite the name, Boxed In’s Oli Bayston is a producer and songwriter willing to look outside himself for inspiration.

Having played in indie band Keith, written for the 2 Bears, sung for George FitzGerald as well as producing for the likes of Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs, his debut as Boxed In balances a love for house with emotive pop hooks. He’s cut his production teeth under the wing of producer du jour Dan Carey (see Kate Tempest and future stars All We Are) and is looking to break out as a solo star in his own right in 2015. With an ace debut album now released via Nettwerk Records and a full diary of great gigs lined up, the signs are all there…

How did you get into music?

I grew up in quite a musical family. My dad is a classical musician, a teacher and singer in his own right, my mum a singer too. Finding my own musical personality came during my mid-teens when I found my own way to write my own songs, in whatever naïve form they were then. But that’s when I started to grasp my own musical identity.

What were you listening to back then?

At the time, very classic teenage acts - Nirvana’s In Utero, Radiohead’s the Bends - proper indie music. Then in my late teens, I found electronic music, got quite into jungle, rave, then house at the age of 18.

But it was only when I started Boxed In that this love for house and techno genuinely filtered into what I was making. Before that it’d never really sunk into my own creations. With Boxed In it’s an integral part of the sound.

What inspired this latest guise as Boxed In?

It was initially to make something minimal and restrained, that was the idea. From a production point of view, my biggest lesson was learning how to create the sound of Boxed In in a very streamlined way. I learnt tricks for myself from collaborating on other records as streamlining sound was what I did all day for other people.

I started off creating five or six sounds and did an eleven track album in a week, with maybe four of these songs now on the album. It was like a test for me basically and ended up being really happy with it. I decided what was more unique would be an electronic influenced LP, played on acoustic instruments. There weren’t too many people doing that, a house and krautrock music influenced record with real piano and real drums. I wanted be different.

How much has working with Dan Carey rubbed off on you?

He's had a big influence, he taught me a lot while assisting him and he produced the record with my previous band, Keith. We’ve had a very strong friendship, making music together, he produced the Boxed In record. He’s had a big impact for sure.

I’ve got my own studio but I thought it’d be better for him to produce it. I thought I’d find it quite tricky to do myself. I now feel more confident having formed the sound but this time round it was better for him to guide me and me to operate as an artist in that environment.

Where do you look for songwriting inspiration?

Songwriting itself, it’s a pop record basically. But it seems I've written songs with strong personal meanings to them. I didn’t set out to do that but it’s ended up being a very personal and emotional record. I’m proud of that, I’m happy to wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m not so much influenced by people in terms of writing but I am by production. Writing is a much more personal thing for me, it comes from within and I get inspired by things outside of music. I constantly look at art books, especially when I reference lyrics. I have them open round my house all the time.

You’ve worked with a host of artists as a producer - how does that feed into your own work?

It is ongoing - I’m currently producing Petite Noir’s album which is amazing. He’s awesome. I’ve helped him write some of the record, arrange it and I’m now co-producing it. It’s tough on time with the promotion for my own album, so it’s a day time thing. This year I’m going to focus much more on Boxed In. We’ve got a lot of gigs to play and I’m excited about getting into that. However, at no point would I want to hang up my producer hat. I love working with other people.

If you could work with anyone over the course of the year, who would it be?

I’ve got a lot of group of people who I’ve been working with in the last year who I’d like to continue working with. I’m hoping to do a collaborative album as Boxed In and more work with George Fitzgerald. I’ve written and sung on his album and would love to do more with him.

Have you any advice for new songwriters?

Just be honest. That’s the best advice I could give. The songs will have more gravity for yourself and for the listening public. You can’t underestimate listeners. If you’re dishonest, then people will see through it. People always respond to honesty.

Check out the video for single Mystery from the album below...