Brandon Boyd with some of his art. (Photo by Maggie Davis)
"Snark," 2014, ink & watercolor
"Mandala #1," 2014, ink & watercolor
"Into the Ether," 2014, ink & watercolor
"Two Muses," 2014, ink & watercolor
"Mandala #2," 2014, ink & watercolor
Brandon Boyd is primarily known as the lead singer of Incubus — a group that has, since its founding more than two decades ago, survived the turn-of-the-century nu-metal craze and the music industry’s wildly unpredictable changes. However, as anyone who’s flipped through the band’s CDs knows, Boyd is also a gifted visual artist. Now, with published three books of art under his belt as well as an appearance in an art walk for the LACMA, Boyd’s artistic ventures have become as much a part of his identity as his day job is.
We recently caught up with the multi-talented Boyd, fresh off a quick but exhausting six-week tour, for a spirited chat about art and music. And save the date: Brandon will show new work during Art Basel Miami Beach this year, including an exhibit at Scope Art Show.
Would you prefer to be thought of as a musician, artist, writer or some combination of the three?
I guess I’d say that just to be thought of is lovely! If I was gonna be greedy and attempt to steer people’s impressions of me, I’d like to be thought of as a multimedia artist.
Have you been working on visual art, or are you mostly occupied with music?
I have found that over the years (and recently as well), when the flood of music comes, it’s normally accompanied by a lot of visual output. Floods don’t really discriminate, they … well, they flood.
Where do you feel most comfortable working — at home, on the road, alone, in the studio?
I’ve learned to make things under most circumstances, though when I am home and in a concentrated atmosphere I seem to write music more consistently. I find when I’m traveling a lot that I am more visually prolific.
How do you feel about being able to create for a living?
Blessed. I did it for free for a long time, and the fact that people seem to like the work enough to pay for it is just thrilling. (That word, “thrilling,” needs to make a comeback.)
Do you hope your work away from Incubus gets observed and looked at critically?
That would be great if the visual works had a chance to stand on their own feet out from under the shadow of what preceded it. But people find art in mostly strange and questionable ways in the first place. It appears to me that the art world is overrun with an intelligentsia of sorts that, for all intents and purposes here, tells people what they should be looking at, enjoying and ultimately buying. The same could be said of the music world, actually. But one of the ways in which Incubus has always operated has been out of that conversation of what was cool and/or important to that music intelligentsia. So, who am I to be mad at a group of people who find my art because they genuinely enjoy the other types of art that I put out?
Dream gallery/space to show in.
Virtually projected into people’s dreams in high-definition 3-D via a subcutaneous injection that was one part AI nano-zip drive, one part low-grade ayahuasca and two parts love. They could interact with the imagery in dream-time but be experiencing the dream with about 85 percent lucidity. The 15 percent chaos factor would leave just enough room for the artwork to interact back and/or seduce the dreamer. The liability insurance on this project alone would be comical, but it could be an interesting way to reach people in a more undistracted and absorbent state of mind. I’m sort of kidding —but now that I’m saying it out loud, I’m sort of not kidding.
Your CV is long and varied. How do art showings and author appearances inform your music, and vice versa?
Each project, event, concert and interaction makes me less afraid. Fear of being terrible has kept me quiet for a long time. And the less I operate out of fear and the more I operate out of a loving, abundant frame of mind, the happier and more free I feel.
Do you plan to record more solo music away from Incubus?
Yes. Incubus is my life partner, but we have an “understanding.”
What’s next for you, the band?
I’m currently writing Trust Fall (Side B) with Incubus, which listeners should be able to start hearing bits from at the end of this year. That and working on what will be book number four. I’ve had a very creatively abundant couple of years and I’m so excited to share what’s been cooking.