It may sound a little mystical, but Jose Ferrer, the multi-instrumentalist, looping mastermind behind Boxwood credits his subconscious for inspiring his lyrics. The 34-year-old does not like the idea of confessional lyrics, which he calls "diary writing." He prefers to find his lyrics in the layers of reverb-heavy music he creates with his sticker-laden Martin D15 acoustic, and other various instruments. "It's not there, but I almost hear it because it's there," he says.
Lyrics are always the last piece of the puzzle in Boxwood's songs. Ferrer, who lives in Hollywood, allows the words to come to him through improvisation. "It's not like I wrote the chorus," he explains. "I just by chance said it this one time, and it sounded interesting, and I'll kind of base the song out of that. I just try to listen to whatever it is I was mumbling when I was recording."
Throughout the five songs on his second EP, Moon Garage, Ferrer sings ragged — often anguished — vocals, adding hazy effects to his voice. Sometimes he layers vocals, like in the distant refrains of "The Lost," the third track off Moon Garage
All of Boxwood's songs build on hypnotic loops, but it never becomes tiresome. Ferrer's baroque detailing allows certain parts of his songs to disappear and reemerge. At times it sounds like an alien jazz band caught up in a great groove. With its eerie, distant guitar lines and the hiss of a drum machine, Moon Garage's opening track, "Free Reign," sounds like The Cure at their creepiest.
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There are also elements of early Radiohead or My Bloody Valentine in the layers and varied effects of Boxwood's songs. "Solar Rays" features three guitar parts, a glistening rhythm part, a simple hook, and a more low-key, rambling bass. Trying to keep up with every little detail in Boxwood's songs can be maddening.
Ferrer has always been drawn to melody. He says he has been writing his own music since age 14. Though he sounds quite fierce on his songs, he is generally reserved and quiet. He has learned over the years that music is a necessity in his life.
He was a nervous, shy person at school who found comfort on stage. "I used to have social anxiety in high school,” he admits. “It was weird, but for some reason I always liked performing in front of people. When I get in front of people, I kind of loosen up. I liked it, and I noticed that," Ferrer remembers. "When I don't play a lot of shows I get miserable,” he adds with a laugh.
Music is a very essential part of his identity. It's more than a hobby for Ferrer; it's integral to his being. "You're always evolving. You're always finding something else. That's why I'll stick with it. It's not because I'm in college or because it's fun. I hope I'm 60, and I'm still trying to come up with stuff."
Boxwood will play its EP release show this Saturday, March 28, during the FAT Village Art Walk at C&I Studios. The show starts at 10 p.m. and is free.