“I think part of the cultural problem with disinformation in America is exactly because people with celebrity power feel that they have a responsibility to address social issues. In return, we get a lot of celebrities/artists saying stupid shit cause they don’t know what the hell they are talking about. So in part, the onus is also on us to stop asking celebrities for answers to social issues at all, and stop idolizing them as the end all be all of social education.” Wil Bakula
We recently spotlighted Portland-based duo Foamboy’s song: Logout, where they investigate digital alienation. Foamboy is made up of the duo – Wil Bakula and Katy Ohsiek – and their music is a lucious abstraction of different moods, that delve into subjects like moving, depression, the dread of a life under capitalism, yet in all of that, they offer, as Wil Bakula says, “disco/dancy vibes,” that just make you want to crank the music up, roll the windows down and go. We decided to catch up with Bakula and Ohsiek to ask them some questions about how they make their music, who inspired them, their social responsibility, and what they love about Portland.
Bridgeliner: Wil Bakula and Katy Ohsiek are the core of Foamboy. Are you both in the same city now and writing face-to-face?
Katy: We will finally be in the same city this summer! Right now I’m in Corvallis and Wil is in Portland. We are still mostly writing songs via email. We have actually lived about an hour apart for a few years now. I’m very excited to close the distance.
Bridgeliner: What has Portland meant to your music, Wil?
Wil: I don’t know if the city itself has had an impact on what we write, but certainly moving up to Portland has given me the chance to connect and play with a lot of different musicians. Those connections absolutely have had an impact on how often I am playing and creating, as well as being exposed to a diversity of musical ideas and influences.
Bridgeliner: I read an interview of yours where you say, “Not every song works.” Why can’t every song be tweaked until it does work?
Katy: You know how you can over-mix muffin batter and then the muffins turn out really tough and chewy and gross? It’s kinda like that. I feel like you can overwork a song until its original meaning is completely obscured, and the listener can tell. It’s not to say that you can’t tweak a song until it works, but I would rather just start fresh. There is no shortage of material coming from either of our brains; we can always just start over and write something else.
Wil: I’ve learned to listen to my instinct a lot more with writing. If I don’t really love something, and I’m not totally excited about it, there’s no use in trying to force something out of a song idea.
Bridgeliner: Other than the obvious, how has COVID affected your music?
Wil: It mostly has just slowed down our production process. Having access to recording studios, working with other musicians, and being able to write together in person has been a drag the last two years.
Bridgeliner: Name some of the people who have made big influences on your music.
Katy: Astrud Gilberto was the first vocalist I looked up to as a kid. Maybe I sound like her? I don’t know.
Wil: The Whispers, Tame Impala, Kaytranada, Thundercat, etc. Love me some warm, saturated, and funky stuff.
Bridgeliner: What skills have you gained that help you perform effectively as a musician?
Katy: I’ve been thinking about just how long I’ve been a performer, from the awkward band concerts in middle school, the piano recitals, the dance performances, the open mic nights in high school. I think the years and years I’ve spent on stage have culminated in a profound comfort with being the center of attention, which is very helpful!
Bridgeliner: Do you think artists have a responsibility to address social issues?
Wil: Not necessarily. I think part of the cultural problem with disinformation in America is exactly because people with celebrity power feel that they have a responsibility to address social issues. In return, we get a lot of celebrities/artists saying stupid shit cause they don’t know what the hell they are talking about. So in part, the onus is also on us to stop asking celebrities for answers to social issues at all, and stop idolizing them as the end all be all of social education. Essentially, if you know what you’re talking about, go ahead. If you don’t, please point in the direction of someone who does.
Bridgeliner: What’s the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?
Wil: Play less.
Bridgeliner: Do you follow a process or ritual before a performance to get rid of nerves or performance anxiety?
Wil: Nope! Just exist anxiously until we play.
Bridgeliner: If you could play with another Portland band, what band would it be and why?
Wil: STFKR! I think UMO is also from Portland? Love those bands.
Bridgeliner: Let’s bring it back to Portland a little bit, where’s your favorite restaurant and what do you order?
Katy: Vegan waffles from Off The Griddle.
Wil: Chinese sausage fried rice from Red Onion on NW 23rd.
Bridgeliner: What’s something you just want people to know?
Katy: I pour so much love and care into my lyrics! I hope you read them!
Wil: We have a really killer live band right now! It’s extremely disco/dancy vibes, so ya’ll should come out to a show!