Lee is the producer and host of the popular indie music podcast and YouTube channel Kinda Neat.
Rap / Rock genre cross-pollination is nothing new in popular music. From Run DMC and Aerosmith, to the Judgment Night soundtrack, to…shudder…Limp Bizkit; it’s well-traversed terrain and, if done disingenuously, can quickly tumble into the realm of corniness. That being said, telling people that I think the next big thing to pop out of LA is “melodic-emo-trap” has gotten me a few side eyes. My elevator pitch goes something like “It sounds like Future meets MxPx.” The next incarnation of rap-rock has arrived, but it doesn’t quite sound like either.
Goth Boi Clique proudly wears their hearts, and influences, on their sleeves. They are the intersection of retro Emo (the most popular recurring monthly in LA right now is “Emo Nite” at the Echoplex), and 90s Memphis-goth-rap-revivalism that currently dominates the underground rap scene.
They are a generation raised on Myspace music and Datpiff.com, delicately woven together by Soundcloud messages and group chats, where face tats are normalized, and Built To Spill is as important as Lil B. In a downtrodden song about lost love you might hear phrases like “we were supposed to glo up together.” Samples aren’t restricted to soul loops; in this world you’ll find chops of The Postal Service, The Microphones, or American Football.
GBC’s members come from vastly varied corners of the country – Scranton, Virginia Beach, Long Island, and Orange County – but the center of it’s universe seems to be the filthy crash pad loft we met at on skid row in DTLA. Some members are poised to hit critical mass with their cult-like followings (Lil Peep), or have fans following them from previous endeavors (Wicca Phase was the lead singer of Tigers Jaw), while some have influenced hugely popular rappers without releasing a tape yet (Lil Tracy).
“no one’s really done shit like this. It’s like emo rap and melodic trap.” – Horse Head
THEY ARE A COLLECTION OF MUSICAL MERCENARIES, ALL EXPERIENCED IN THE TRAPPINGS AND MISGIVINGS OF WORKING IN LARGE GROUPS.
Every GBC member has a history with a previous crew that didn’t quite work out. They are a collection of musical mercenaries, all experienced in the trappings and misgivings of working in large groups. For now they’ve found solace, support, and a common goal in Goth Boi Clique. Their first compilation tape, Yeah It’s True, released this summer is a magnificent springboard into the deep rabbit hole of albums, crossovers, and collabs they’ve been making for the last few years.
I sat down with 3 of the group’s members, Horse Head, Lil Tracy, and Cold Hart to talk about their origin story.
How would you describe the Goth Boi Clique sound? Horse Head (HH): Hmm…melodic, emotional, trap…we have like… Lil Tracy (LT): So many mixtures. HH: We have turnt music too, and it’s sort of nostalgic, but it’s new too…no one’s really done shit like this. It’s like emo rap and melodic trap.
(all three drift off into laughter trying to give their sound a genre)
I wouldn’t necessarily qualify you guys as rap music, but I think a lot of folks would instantly label your music as that. Since I assume you all grew up on the internet and your sound is such an amalgam of different influences and styles, I’m wondering if rap was your first musical influence or something you got into later?
Our music is like early 2000’s kids grown up cause like…all that shit influenced me. – Cold Hart
CH: It was mine. My first album I ever bought was 50 Cent’s “Get Rich Or Die Tryin,” out of some dude’s trunk when I was like 8. But our music is like early 2000’s kids grown up cause like…all that shit influenced me. After that it was like Ozzy Osbourne, then I got into emo music, Soulja Boy, and everything in between. LT: Yeah I used to listen to Soulja Boy, and OJ Da Juiceman, Gucci Mane, Yo Gotti, Young LA… HH: Did you find out about Lil B after that shit? LT: Yeah I didn’t even know Lil B was that dude from The Pack. And then got into weird shit like The Helio Sequence… HH: Like Built To Spill, stuff like that. We used to listen to this band The Wild Nothing a lot. I grew up listening to KROQ, and my dad showed me stuff like Nirvana and Blink-182. I always liked pop stuff that’s what I was really into when I was young. Blink is one of my favorite bands of all time and definitely still a major influence. In terms of rap music I always liked mainstream shit like Nelly and 50 Cent. But I got into underground hip hop in high school which got me into making beats.
How many people are officially in GBC? Cold Hart (CH): 10…right? Or like… HH: I dunno the exact number but it’s basically… CH: Everyone in the group chat. HH: The three of us, and Wicca Phase, Døves, Official…he’s a mysterious entity. Yawns who does a lot of our merch designs and DJs. CH: and then Mackned HH: JP Dreamthug, who doesn’t really make a lot of music anymore… CH: He’s just the homie that’s been down since day one. HH: And Peep. Lil Peep, he’s the latest addition. CH: Last addition. HH: Yeah probably final addition.
You can’t have a crew with like 30 people in it and have 3 people in the spotlight. – Horse head
Did you find there to be power in numbers with such a big crew? CH: No. (laughing) LT: It’s like the opposite. HH: It causes a lot of confusion when there are more people, and it leaves less room for everyone to shine. You can’t have a crew with like 30 people in it and have 3 people in the spotlight. Everyone else is gonna feel some type of way if they aren’t getting their shine or you’re not making music with them.
When did the idea of GBC start to form? HH: I think it was like you and Wicca Phase had already made it up right? CH: Yeah, in 2013. HH: And Ghost was in it too right? CH: For a little bit, yeah. He was this kid from Sweden. HH: He was this kid that made really dope music but he just like stopped and disappeared. We only knew him online but I used to talk to him and work on music with him a lot. But I think it was basically Wicca and Coldh4rt originally. CH: Yeah I found out about [Horse Head’s] music and started talking to him, and we just had the same type of music so we made a crew. LT: I only got in cause I wore the shirt. (everyone laughs) I wasn’t even in Goth Boi Clique, I was just cool with Horse Head, we lived together and I just used to wear the Goth Boi Clique shirt every…single…day.
“IT CAUSES A LOT OF CONFUSION WHEN THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE, AND IT LEAVES LESS ROOM FOR EVERYONE TO SHINE.” – HORSE HEAD
Tracy, How did you link up with Ariel Pink? LT: There’s this girl named Sarah, and we have the same birthday. We had kinda like a birthday party together and Ariel Pink is her friend and he was there. I’ve always been a fan, like an actual fan. CH: That song he made when he was like 11… LT: BRO HE PLAYED ME THAT! Personally! Like I was chillin with him and he played me that! But yeah we ended up collab’ing. And then the song he sent me, when I sent back my part, he was like “this is like amazing.” And I was just like…(trails off to surprised laughter) HH: That’s what he said? I didn’t even know that.
At first it was just like a song we made called “Goth Boi Clique,” then it was a crew. – Cold Hart
So Cold Hart when you and Wicca Phase started recruiting more members who did you reach out to first? CH: It was just me and him at first, then Horse Head and (frequent production collaborator) Nedarb Nagrom after that. I knew of your beats too. HH: And Mackned around that time too. We basically all linked up around that time and it was weird cause our music just went together. Like none of us really knew eachother, I knew Cold Hart’s beats. Actually I knew you cause of your song with Lil Shark. CH: Oh yeah…”Awesome”…Lil Shark was like an 11 year old rapper. But yeah at first it was just like a song we made called “Goth Boi Clique,” then it was a crew, then I met Horse Head and Ned, and then after THRAXXHOUSE it got more official. HH: It used to be kinda loose and we just started adding everyone we fucked with, but after a while we started to narrow it down and focus mostly on the vocalists.
I want to give people reading an easy way to get into some of the standout members of GBC. So what’s a good starting point to get into Lil Peep? LT:Hellboy or Crybaby.
Where should people start for you Cold Hart? CH:The OC Season 1 HH: …or like Missed Calls if you wanna dive deep. He has mad tapes though.
Tracy what should people check from you? LT: I don’t have any mixtapes yet. HH: His shit’s all over the place. Listen to “Desire” on the GBC album, or listen to “Wait Hollup.” LT: Yeah it’s mostly just singles.
Where should they start with you Horse Head? CH:Romantic HH: Yeah my 1st album Romantic that I produced myself. Or I made this EP called Lock and Key. To me that’s one of my favorites. Some of my old shit I don’t really fuck with.
Who else? HH: Mackned just dropped American Boy…and then definitely check out Døves…he has an EP with Wicca Phase called Døves Cry Springs Eternal and that one’s soooo fucking good; like that’s one of the best GBC records.
Being that the group is so spread out throughout the state and country, how do you guys stay in contact and make moves together? HH: Now we’re seeing each other a lot because things are picking up and we’re getting more opportunities but… LT: I don’t have a phone. CH: Me neither I just have wifi.
You don’t have a phone? How do you keep in touch with these guys? CH: Carrier pigeon. LT: I don’t like phones. HH: They’re a burden. LT: I’m trying to get a Samsung. They need me right now.
(The conversation quickly erodes into side conversations as the clique returns to being friends and forgetting they were being taped.)