In search to rebrand their image and sound, singer and guitarist Wren Theriault created the Chicago-based indie-rock Boye in June 2018. It wasn’t until a month later that drummer Fiona Rohan joined to complete the dynamic duo—right in the parking lot of an Office Max.
After Boye’s original drummer decided not to continue with the band, Rohan took on the part, and never had the intentions of making it a full-time gig until she realized how well her and Theriault worked together—both creating with the same goals in mind.
“Chicago’s Queer Indie Rock Beauties”––the only description needed to know the band, and not one that should be looked over. Theriault said it was not until after they listened to another artist who identified as queer that they came out as non-binary. When that band split, Theriault knew they wanted to create the feeling of inclusivity that the band created for them when they listened to it.
“It was a sign that I needed to do this in order to have more of an understanding for myself,” Theriault said.
Through their lyrics, style and identity, Boye strives to create a space of inclusivity for anyone to be themselves and be open with who they are. Both Theriault and Rohan said while they pull inspiration from a variety of indie-rock artists, they mainly look toward what other queer bands and musicians are doing––and then make their own version of it.
Theriault said how they brand themselves is extremely important—being out is crucial to them when identifying as queer. The band is also very open with their audience politically and talk about issues concerning capitalism, the environment, fascism and school systems, and Rohan said through live performances the band uses the platform they are given to make important issues heard. She added it is easy for them to send out messages to their listeners through music, especially because politics and the need for inclusivity is so relevant to the community they are in today.
“Being queer is empowering,” Theriault said.
While the term “queer” has several meanings for different people, for them it is all about expression, and being unapologetic for who they are.
Though nearly all of Boye’s songs have lyrics behind them of very deep, personal meanings, “Dog Days, After You,” which is not released yet, directly relates to the band’s identity by laying out Theriault’s journey as a non-binary trans person and coming to terms with two sides of themself.
While lyrics go a long way in general, Boye goes the extra mile with their live performances to truly connect with their audience and make an experience out of the moment, one where those in attendance feel as though they are family.
Boye is part of the DIY music community in Chicago, which to them is all about the freedom of creating and performing what they want, along with being in safe spaces––specifically many house shows.
“It’s so intimate and you are getting so much more out of it,” Theriault said.
Rohan said performing in those smaller spaces allows them to interact with a more attentive crowd. “These people respect what you’re doing,” she said.
As DIY musicians, Theriault said Chicago is very accepting of different artists and they never feel bad about a performance. But, there is still room for improvement in the community, as Theriault said queer people of color still do not have the amount of representation they deserve in the music scene.
In an attempt to defy gender-norms, Theriault and Rohan say they believe there is no such thing as gender. Theriault said when they are not forced to be grounded and dress a certain way, they can be found in a dress, hair done, makeup and accessories on. “It is so freeing to not have boundaries like that,” they said.
For them, it is not just about music. It is an art form, an aesthetic, a way of living.
To make each show truly feel like their own, and “homey,” Boye sets up their stage with a number of props on their amps including an antique lamp, long-stick candle, tea cup and plate, a small clock, pine cones, a basket of plants and an old blue notebook––which Theriault got from a thrift-haul after they said they had an “epiphany” after a show in late August. And a “girl power” picture that Rohan had sitting in her basement for years, and on-stage with Boye felt like the perfect place for it.
Although the two of them did not start out as a working “dynamic,” after a short while they realized they bounced off each other creatively, and now they consider themselves as a “corpus callosum,” coming together to ground one another. And the relationship evidently evens out as Rohan brings a heavier sound and style to the team, while Theriault has more of a calm and low sound.
With one full album out, “Harbinger,” Boye plans make their presence known beyond Chicago with more shows and touring in the next year and they have no signs of slowing down.
“It is so important to be happy with what you’re doing,” Theriault said. “I would not be doing anything else besides this.”