We are music enthusiasts Stephen and Anne Marie Boidock. Both of us like to hunt down new music with the other's tastes in mind. Our first playlist was delivered years ago as a birthday present, which unintentionally sparked this tradition. Nowadays, the delivery of each list, after weeks spent crafting them, spices up our music collection and provides hours of conversation to keep warm. After privately dueling playlists for two years, we’re now dueling publicly here at Kin Collective.
To understand the duel, you have to understand our family. Competition is how we show our affection. Music is how we keep in touch.
Our good friend and fellow music lover, Graham Douglass, asked us some questions about the project the last time we were all together. That conversation is here below.
G: So, friends, talk to me about how Kin Collective originally came about.
G: Don’t get all choked up, it’s fine.
AM: Stephen sent me a playlist as a birthday present. I don’t know if it’s ‘cause everyone in our family is cheap or because--
SB: I’m pretty sure it’s because everyone is cheap.
AM: --I like music. I think it was four or five songs long, and it was back in 2012. Then, I sent him one for his birthday. It was very sporadic. We didn’t have any sort of rhythm to it. Occasionally one of us would just put a playlist together and send it to the other.
AM: Initially I think the ritual stuck because we both think anything made by hand, anything that takes time to put together is—
AM: --is fun.
G: So, what was your goal when you were putting the original playlist together?
SB: Whenever I'm listening to music, it’s nice to experience it with other people. I think there’s something beautiful about discovery. If you share an experience with somebody then you feel more validated in the experience you just had. So, for me, I would listen to this great music, and I wanted to tell somebody about it. In that sense, this isn’t a new idea. We used to make mixtapes way back in the day. I remember sitting by the radio with my hand on the record button --
AM: So true.
SB: -- I’d hit record and stop. Wait an hour. Then the second the next song would come on, I’d hit record and wait for that song to be over, and then wait for another two hours for them to play the next song. Nowadays, it’s a lot easier just being able to search for the song, save it to a playlist and send it to somebody.
AM: Do you remember what was on that first mixtape you made? I think I remember a couple of the songs.
SB: I definitely remember some of the songs.
AM: I feel like 3AM was on there.
SB: 3AM was on there. Real World. A few Matchbox 20 songs.
AM: That’s true, yeah. Sister Hazel! You loved them. Fastball was definitely on there.
SB: You had things like Stevie Wonder.
AM: You requested Stevie Wonder on the radio all the time. In fact, I remember when you got on the radio to request--
SB: Yeah, I got on the radio a couple of times.
AM: -- and they put you through to the DJ and you were so excited.
“Hi! My name is Stephen and I’d like to request Superstition by Stevie Wonder.”
SB: Yeah. It was I Wish, but that’s fine.
AM: Are you sure?
SB: It was I Wish.
G: So, would you say you come from a musical family?
SB: Definitely not …
AM: We’re enthusiasts.
SB: We don’t, we don’t play any instruments. We have no musical talent – whatsoever. We can’t sing. We don’t play any music. We were very busy, we worked on projects with my dad a lot. Music was kind of a common meeting ground at the end of the night, no matter what happened. We’d go, “Alright, we’re gonna put on Frank Sinatra or Stevie Wonder,” and enjoy ourselves. My dad was very old school, into Sinatra or Dean Martin or anyone in that camp, and then my mom was into Michael Jackson.
AM: She was into anything that you could dance to.
SB: Phil Collins. Whitney Houston, things like that. It was the one time of day that it was okay to just sit down and relax.
AM: We took a lot of road trips when we were younger, too, and we would always pick out one or two cassette tapes, and then for the whole trip we would listen to those.
G: So, Stephen, when you were creating the first playlist for Anne Marie, you mentioned that you were putting tracks on there that you were enjoying, but were you spinning it to influence her taste, or was it more like a brother’s love letter to his sister saying, “Here’s the music I really like, I hope you like it to”?
SB: I think it was more the second one. As we’ve done this over the last few years now, we’ve started to learn more about each other’s tastes. So, I might be able to pick a song that I think she’d enjoy. Initially, for me, I knew that I hadn’t heard these songs before and she might not have as well.
G: Talk to me about your rules when creating playlists.
SB: You talk about the rules. [looks at AM]
AM: Oh man.
SB: The biggest one is that we can’t use the same artist twice.
AM: That’s a newer rule. We’ve always skewed that way but we finally set it in stone. This whole thing has evolved over time.
G: Do you think that you’re actually going to be able to live up to that?
AM & SB: Yes.
SB: Talk to us in a month and we’ll say, “We made a huge mistake!”
SB: Realistically, we had duplicates early on. We started to realize that there were a lot of opportunities to discover music and we should commit. Now, that rule prevents us from having duplicate artists from a previous month.
G: List the rules for me.
AM: No artists that have been used before. Never revealing your resources or where you get your music from . . .
SB: Sixteen songs per month.
AM: The playlist has to come on the first of the month. And the last one is more about taste but you can’t just throw something on to make it sixteen. The list has to be well-rounded. For me, all of the tracks have to live up to the same caliber of being something in his taste and that he might like.
SB: It is very challenging because you’ll hear a song from an artist that hasn’t been used that’s new and you’ll think, “There’s something here,” but they might come out with an album that’s better later on, so do I want to burn them on this song or this album?
AM: That’s a good point.
SB: But! At the same time I know that she’s listening to music and she might have already heard that song and is making the same choice so…you never know.
G: So, there’s a competitive aspect to it, as well, yes?
SB: I mean…
AM: To everything. But in a good way, yeah.
SB: We have these conversations where it’s June 3rd, and I hear the anchor song for July’s playlist—
AM: “Anchor” means top song for this month.
SB: --and I’ll send her a threatening text that says, “Just heard it! Been searching for it and it just happened!” And she’ll reply, “I did too already, so you better bring it in July! Boom.”
AM: Our family teases each other pretty notoriously but it all comes from love. It’s constructive. In the sense that we both want to push each other. It’s akin to finding a running buddy that runs with you because it’s easier for you to get up and run that way.
AM: But I admit that at least ten months out of the year, maybe more like eleven, our trash talk is less endearing and mostly cocky.
G: There’s an element to the idea where the listener can vote, “yes” or “no”? Is that still in play?
SB: Yes. Listeners can "like" their preferred playlist on the Now Playing page. Most likes during the month in question wins.
G: What does the winner get?
SB: Bragging rights.
AM: Pride. It’s all we ever play for. [laughs]
SB: I’ve thought about it though, I think that Anne Marie’s social following is much larger than mine, so there’s a chance I just get trounced every month. I’m going to have to step up my social game.
G: So, Anne Marie, what is Stephen’s musical taste?
AM: Soul. A lot of blues. A lot of jazz. He really likes gritty vocals in any genre. And he loves a song that starts at the crescendo. He loves a song that starts with the chorus. It can be anything. It can just be vocals; it can be a beat, but it has to catch fire quick. Otherwise he’s lost forever.
G: What’s Anne Marie’s taste?
SB: I feel like it changes. There are certain songs that have this incredible hook to them that aren’t straight pop, they’re more indie pop but they have some sort of message in there that resonates. Anne Marie was texting me lyrics to the intro of the Magic City Hippies song “Heart Wants” recently. Those lyrics take place when they’re just talking before the song even gets going, but what they say there, that was the thing that resonated with her.
G: Fair to say, Anne Marie, you’re more lyrically driven, and, Stephen, you’re more musically driven?
AM: I’ve never thought of it in that way, but yeah. Makes sense.
SB: Yeah, I guess, yeah, right.
AM: I mean, we can cite some Paul Wall songs that you listened to in high school. [laughs]
SB: Look, we all got our start somewhere. You can’t put me in a box. I like songs with elation. That’s the only way I can describe it. I think one of the things about listening to Michael Jackson growing up is -- if you listen to the effort and energy and enthusiasm that he put into his songs -- his heart poured through every track, even when it was a slow song. I appreciate when artists sing or create arrangements that are so true to who they are, even if it means missing out on a chance at Billboard fame.
I also enjoy anything with complexity, which is why I'm drawn to artists like Brandon Flowers, who has these songs with 18 different layers that I can listen to over and over and hear different melodies each time. I just like songs that are dynamic in that sense.
G: Why have you guys decided to make this public and share it with people?
AM: The big reason for me was that we started sharing it with friends, but then consistently with those friends, if I didn’t talk to them often, I would wonder if I should keep sending it to them every month? I’d think, are they really excited about this? I wanted to have a place where anyone that wanted to listen consistently could just follow on their own, so I didn’t have to awkwardly follow up and say, “Do you still want to be part of this?! Do you still like music?”
SB: Mhmm. I think it also helps keep us accountable because sometimes right now I might send the playlist a couple of days late and she’ll say, “If we’re actually going to make this a thing, let’s just do it the right way.” So, by making it public, there's built in accountability. Like staying within the rules.
AM: It’s also just nice to have the catalogue in one place. A journal of where we’ve been.
G: You’re both living in different cities.
G: Do or don’t those cities influence your musical tastes?
AM: Oh, it definitely does.
SB: It definitely does.
AM: [laughs] He looks at me as he says that. [laughs]
G: How so?
AM: I’m definitely more electronic than I ever was when I lived in Brooklyn. In LA specifically, I think that electronic infused anything is very much the scene. I’m sure I’m around that subconsciously every day and it’s starting to influence my own tastes. Which kind of just makes me think, where would my music taste go if I went to Tokyo or Cape Town or Nebraska or…
SB: It would be electronic.
AM: It would still be electronic, you think so?
SB: In Tokyo? Yeah. Maybe not Nebraska.
AM: Yeah. What about you?
SB: Absolutely. In Austin, the access to songs and artists is just amazing. I like listening to local radio like KUTX and their Austin Music Minute, where they only play local artists. Being able to watch someone in concert or at a coffee shop or wherever, whenever, is a dream. For me, whatever Austin is coming out with is usually a lot of where the discovery is happening. I’ve definitely discovered a lot of artists by what people are playing on the radio or by friends of friends who end up going to a new show and bringing home war stories.
AM: PSA, move to Austin, folks.
G: Anne Marie, who were some of your favorite local LA artists?
AM: I dig Zach Kibbee’s vibe. He’s got a lot of grit. Saint Motel I still need to see live. They never disappoint me. Gavin Turek (Stevie – cover your ears) I just discovered this month. She’s got a disco thing happening and her sound always transports me to another decade. She started with Mayer Hawthorne’s tribe but I’m glad she’s now making her own solo music as well.
G: How about you, Stephen, any local Austin artists?
SB: Where do I start? I love that there is such diversity in styles here. You have these high octane groups like Tomar & the FCs, Grupo Fantasma, Golden Dawn Arkestra. Then you’ve got your throwback sounding artists like Tameca Jones, Max Frost, LaTasha Lee & The Black Ties, and then your rockers like White Denim, Shearwater and Gary Clark Jr. There’s a reason why it’s the live music capital of the world. And, though he’s technically not from Austin, Leon Bridges is a native Texan who I got to see in his first few concerts with just a handful of people. You could tell he was going places.
AM: We love you, Leon.
G: From the larger spectrum, who are personal favorites? Current or otherwise.
AM: Ooh…there are many artists I’ve really gotten swept up in and swooned over. Jessie Ware you told me about, and I was ashamed to have not heard about her, but as I usually am, I’m ashamed, but thrilled at the same moment, because I get to experience that artist for the first time. John Mayer I saw quite a few times growing up and I've never outgrown his music or what it means to me. I can't afford to see him live anymore but I still play his stuff.
AM: I really like a band called Bestfriends, they’re originally from Chicago, but they’re in LA now. They’re just a little dancey houseband. I heard them for the first time when I was out for a long run outside of Amsterdam in 2014. Myzica and Ekkah I’m pretty into -- very dream pop. Boulevards, how about you, Stephen?
SB: Right now – The Dip, Busty and The Bass. A couple of those guys actually got started in college and then they sort of turned into a brass band. They don’t do popular music, they do old school sounding songs with just a little bit more tempo and energy. I like those guys even though they’re super new. I like Midnight To Monaco, it’s a group that has only put out three or four songs, but --
AM: Stephen knows the lyrics to all of them. Even as non-lyrical as he is. [laughs]
SB: Donnie Sloan was a producer for Empire of the Sun and had a lot of early French dance groups like Daft Punk. He connected with a guy named Ricky Ducati who has an incredible set of pipes and now they’re turning out some great records. I really like their music. Growing up and still today, I like any and all kinds of jazz, things like Stan Getz.
G: If you had to choose anything to turn on as soon as you wake up, what would it be?
AM: I’m going with a beat. Before the coffee happens, anything with a beat would be good, which could be electronic or more contemporary stuff. I’ll throw on some Kendrick Lamar, rap, hip hop, anything that’ll just get me up and out of bed.
SB: I would say that I’m similar in regard to that. I play a lot of Rat Pack as I’m getting ready because I have a little kid that’s running around, and if I play that, she recognizes it, but as soon as I drop her off, I go, okay, let’s crank it up so the energy comes back. Depending on what mood I’m in in the morning, I might listen to a full album. I spend so much time listening for new songs and artists that I don’t have a lot of time to listen to the playlist that I just created. I don’t actually listen to my playlist before I send it--
AM: Wait, what?! But how do you know how to order it?
SB: I know what the songs are, I listen to each song on its own, as I’m vetting it –
SB: --And then when I compile it, I throw them all into a playlist, I remember what that song sounds like from before, and then I just reorder it and send it.
AM: Who are you? [laughs]
G: And what’s your method?
AM: I, once I get them in the playlist, I just, I obsess over it for at least three to seven days. Sometimes longer.
G: First concerts?
AM: Oh, that’s a good one.
SB: I would say that my first concert was actually Sister Hazel in Kansas City.
AM: You didn’t go to a concert until college?
SB: No…I didn’t really go to any…but my favorite show I’ve ever been to was Shiny Toy Guns in Kansas City. They had such high energy and ended the night with an incredible 10-minute jam session as the crew tore down the stage, while they were still playing. It was unforgettable.
AM: How do I top that? [laughs] I think mine was probably Usher Raymond. Which is just amazing. Now that I think about it, I remember saving up money for two concerts, Justin Timberlake and Usher, and they were both big stadium tours and both terrific shows.
G: Where do you see Kin Collective heading in the future?
AM: We would eventually love to be able to expand and have other people duel their playlists with us.
SB: Yeah. I think that just from a quality standpoint right now, we’re starting with us. But ideally the ability to add other people would be more fulfilling. We want it to be a space where people can not only just consume things but also share what their favorites are and why they are passionate about them.
AM: They would have the same rules. They would have the same burn list to work with that we do right now.
AM: They would have to come in strong. [laughs]
SB: It’s true.
AM: And when I say they, I mean we’ll probably come to you [Graham] first.
G: Now you can’t ask me what I’m listening to. You just lost that source.
AM: No one is safe.
G: Everyone’s been warned.
AM: We’ve been warned [laughs]