Street Sounds: BoyK!ller

Philadelphia pop-electro duo talks about their separation from generic EDM.

Lee Francis (above) and Thom Winter make up EDM group BoyK!ller, which formed this past year. The two said they aim to change the EDM scene.|Alex udowenko TTN
Lee Francis (above) and Thom Winter make up EDM group BoyK!ller, which formed this past year. The two said they aim to change the EDM scene.|Alex udowenko TTN

Techno is dead, trap is out and house is gone.

But local EDM group BoyK!ller is trying to change that.

In Philadelphia’s evolving electronic scene, Thom Winter and Lee Francis, who have both taken classes at Temple and plan on returning, are trying to pioneer a unique genre of music. Collectively, they hope to fuse the intensity of a favorite club hit with the popularity of a pop single.

Both having a passion for music, the duo created BoyK!ller to show that electronic music can still consist of real, tangible instruments and melodies hidden inside of a floor vibrating, speaker-pumping song.

The duo has only released eight songs, but is picking up steam since its conception in early 2013. The two said they hope to put out an album, take the pop charts by storm and maybe even get Beyoncé on a single. But for now, they’re taking it one show at a time. The group’s next one is tomorrow Wednesday, Feb. 26 at Silk City.

THE TEMPLE NEWS: So when did you start? How did you meet?

THOM WINTER: I met [Francis] through a friend of a friend in 2010. We didn’t start making music until last spring. It was basically a culmination of he’s always been making music and that’s his thing. He’s been around the block in terms of Philadelphia, different kinds of funk bands and stuff like that. I go to a lot of festivals through working. I guess just being around that kind of a crowd and seeing what’s happening. You kind of want to be a part of it in some way. You are either in the crowd or on the stage, and at one point it just clicked that I wanted to make this happen and not just sitting back and enjoying it.

LEE FRANCIS: I saw [Winter] had a real passion for electronic music and the energy. I figured I should start making music to be commercial and relate to people your own age.

TW: We’re not trying to make mainstream music just to sell it. We follow the mainstream format and change towards what we think electronic music can become. The only way I could describe it is everything we have can be played on the piano. That’s how we start all our music. There’s always going to be a melody there.

TTN: Where did the name BoyK!ller come from?

LF: We were in the lobby of a condo building and it caught my eye on the TV screen. It was a story about a boy who was killing.

TW: No, no, no. It was a guy for the Amber Alert or something he was known as the “boy killer.” And the thing was, we came to the conclusion that it stuck out.

LF: We don’t want it to mean anything negative or dark at all.

TW: It stood out. This road trip opened us up to these sort of experiences. It was just a moment and [Francis] said “Thom, look up,” and it was instant. We both knew right away we are going with it. It was something with a negative connotation, sure, but we wanted to make into something positive, but still grabbing your attention on the song charts.

TTN: You’re a particularly new band, how was your experience with your first few shows?

TW: It was awesome. We definitely had some nerves going into it, normal stuff. Your fear is that no one will show up.

LF: Just jump up and down, you know? Get the blood going. The second show was just not at the right place. We had to plug it in through some guy’s room stereo in his bedroom. People didn’t understand that we weren’t DJs. We had some guy ask us to play [Electric Light Orchestra], as if we were shuffling songs on an iPod.

TW: Yeah, we have our horror story in our back pocket. I don’t think it gets worse than that.

TTN: What’s the process in making your music? What is your inspiration?

TW: It’s usually set into what kind of a mood we are going for, what kind of environment are we’re in, or mood – like high energy or something like that. We take an initial emotion and drive it from there. It’s all starts with a melody.

LF: Chord changes. On the piano or guitar. I learned the most about harmony and such from Stevie Wonder and the Beach Boys. George Gershwin. Just all that non-electronic stuff. I always write my stuff with all kinds of pop music – from the ‘20s to Stevie Wonder. I don’t really think in terms of electronic dance music and that’s where [Winter] comes in.

TW: Just taking the timeless aspect of certain mainstream melodies and musical creations, making it into something people can appreciate. You can’t come out guns blazing and expect people to enjoy it. People just think we are grabbing sounds and samples and copy and pasting stuff. I’m the buffer for his creative side.

LF: When we create songs with lyrics, I usually just create a harmony and he’ll send me back lyrics through the Internet. We want to write more songs, more lyrics.

TTN: How would you describe your music?

TW: I’d say pop-electro. I mean, there are so many words now, people will say progression or house.

LF: Yeah, pop-electro.

TW: Especially because you can’t say house, because it’s just too general with electronic terms. People come up with new words like nu-disco, I can’t keep up with it.

TTN: What’s the pop-electronic scene in Philadelphia right now?

LF: There’s a lot of good guitar stuff, and ‘80s style synth pop. But I don’t think there is anyone doing what we’re doing. There are a lot of good DJs, who like to make really club orientated music without a lot of melody.

TW: I don’t think anyone has pushed the pop-electronic scene in Philadelphia yet. I like to think we are pushing forward with something that’s not really evolved in Philly.

Patrick McCarthy can be reached at

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