Get Out Of Your Head With Infinity Song's 'Outside Myself'

Mar 31, 2021
Originally published on March 31, 2021 12:10 pm

The Morning Edition Song Project is a series where songwriters are asked to write an original song about the COVID era – our newest addition is from music collective and sibling band Infinity Song.

Angel and Victory Boyd are two of nine children from a musical family – five of those kids, including the two sisters, form the band Infinity Song. Growing up, music was all around them: their dad founded the Boys and Girls Choirs of Detroit. "We grew up being a part of his choir, helping to arrange songs and lead vocal sections of the choir," Angel says. Victory adds that, "Like any family, when they do something, and it's their livelihood — you just kind of create a culture around it," she says.

The older sister, Victory says lockdown gave their band of siblings fewer distractions and a chance to work on their relationships with each other. It also forced them to figure out how to survive without touring. They began by singing, making videos and posting covers of different songs online. "But in order to do that, we first had to harmonize in our relationships," Victory says. "Like, you can't get those kinds of harmonies without first harmonizing internally."

Songwriting is about collaboration, but with a big musical family, it can be hard to find your own voice. Victory was 16 when she wrote her first song, around the time that her parents separated. "Life was chaos. I prayed, 'Jesus, please hear me when I cry. Don't leave me here to die,' " she recalls. "I just sang that over and over again, I said, 'This is my song.' Like, I never looked back after that."

But for Angel, the song that made her realize she had her own voice and her own musical story to tell, is the same one the group is sharing for the Morning Edition Song Project. It's called "Outside Myself."

Angel and Victory Boyd of Infinity Song spoke with NPR's Rachel Martin about "Outside Myself," singing to overcome anxiety and finding the confidence to write in your own voice. Hear the radio version at the audio link, and read on for an edited transcript.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


Rachel Martin: So, let's talk specifically about this song. How did it come to be?

Angel Boyd: On one beautiful quarantine day, after being inside all day, it was, like, nighttime. And I just went for a walk to this playground area and sat on a bench. I didn't have any other words than the melody and the sentence that came to me: "It's more than what I'm feeling inside." And I sang that over and over and over. And it actually helped me to feel better.

How did you build it out? How did it grow into a song?

Angel Boyd: Well, it took me about ... two weeks of just writing journal essays of what this song could possibly be about. And I was telling everyone, "Yeah, I have this song. I'll be done with it by Friday." That was week one. So, then, I was like, "Alright. I'm gonna call Victory. She's gonna know exactly what to do." And there was one day where — at this point, we only had the hook — we just had been going back and forth, trying to get the verse. Just get a verse, just get a verse.

Was it stressful, or... ?

Angel Boyd: It was super, super stressful. Because it should be the easiest thing in the world, but nothing was feeling right. And you always know when it's right. And then my dad called me, and I had a feeling he was gonna be like, "Angel, what's going on? What's taking so long?" But he actually gave me an extra vote of faith and confidence. He [said], "You know how to write a song. You know what you're doing. Don't doubt yourself." And then, after that phone call, I ended up collapsing on my bed and finally breaking down because the stress and the pressure was just too much. And I was like, "I don't know how to do this." And in that moment, it came. In that moment, directly after that phone call, the song was written. It was done.

That's actually where the song began. It didn't begin with me sitting on that bench, in the park. It actually began in my room and, probably, having a breakdown — exactly like that. And that's why I realized I couldn't write the verse because I really didn't know where the song began until I was back in that moment.

I mean, Victory, she clearly had something. How much was it just needing the confidence to do it?

Victory Boyd: Yeah. All of it was that.

And actually, I called Daddy and told him that ... [Laughs] I told him that she — Angel — needed support in her songwriting process.

Are you just hearing this, Angel?

Angel Boyd: You're catching me live, for the first time.

So, Angel, what what was specific about it? What was going on in in your head that you were living in that so much?

Angel Boyd: It's a recurring theme, that I'm realizing, in a lot of my work is having a mental world of your own. I can tend to be very self-critical. And that's not always conducive to the best mental state. But I want people to feel like they can breathe, when they hear this song.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Let's get back to the MORNING EDITION Song Project. This is where we ask artists to write an original song about the pandemic era. Today, two sisters from a musical family.

ANGEL BOYD: My name is Angel Boyd. I'm 24 years old. I am the middle child of nine kids.

MARTIN: Five of those kids are the band Infinity Song.

VICTORY BOYD: My name is Victory, and I'm on the older spectrum of the family...

A BOYD: She's right above me.

V BOYD: ...Right above Angel.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAD LOVE")

INFINITY SONG: (Singing) I've got mad love for you, mama.

MARTIN: Music was all around Angel and Victory and their siblings when they were growing up. Their dad founded the Boys and Girls Choirs of Detroit.

A BOYD: We just grew up being a part of his choir, helping to, like, arrange songs and, like, lead vocal sections of the choir.

V BOYD: You know, like any family when they do something and it's their livelihood, you just kind of create a culture around it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAD LOVE")

INFINITY SONG: (Singing) 'Cause I got mad love for you - I got mad love for you. I got mad love you. I got mad love for you.

MARTIN: Victory Boyd says the pandemic gave their band of siblings fewer distractions and a chance to work on their relationships with each other. It also forced them to figure out how to survive without touring.

V BOYD: So in order to do that, the plan was to just start singing and making videos.

MARTIN: Which you guys did - you put a bunch of different covers on YouTube.

V BOYD: Yeah. But in order to do that, we first had to harmonize in our relationships.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO, "DREAMS (FLEETWOOD MAC COVER)")

INFINITY SONG: (Singing) Thunder only happens when it's raining. Players only love you when they're playing.

V BOYD: Like, you can't get those kinds of harmonies without first harmonizing (laughter) internally first.

A BOYD: Yeah.

MARTIN: That is a lovely line. But is that really true? Like, you feel actually that your music is off, the harmony isn't as tight, if there's dissent?

A BOYD: One hundred percent true.

MARTIN: Songwriting is about collaboration. But with a big musical family, it can be hard to find your own voice. And I asked Victory how that happened for her. She said she was 16 when she wrote her first song.

V BOYD: It was actually right after my parents just separated, and life was chaos. I prayed, Jesus, please hear me when I cry. Don't leave me here to die. I was like, (gasping) that rhymes. I just sang that over and over again and said this is my song. Like, I never looked back after that.

MARTIN: I asked Angel the same thing. What was the song that made her realize she had her own voice and her own musical story to tell? And she pointed to the song that she wrote for us. It's called "Outside Myself."

A BOYD: Having dealt with anxiety in the past, this song is a really good - I don't know. It just represents that sort of struggle for me in a very hopeful, succinct way. I didn't think about mental health when I was writing it, but unbeknownst to me, it kind of is like a mental health anthem in a way.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OUTSIDE MYSELF")

INFINITY SONG: (Singing) When my mind's in the madness and I'm lost in the sadness and I can't understand myself, oh - when I'm haunted by actions and I'm caught by distractions and my mind's overactive, oh...

A BOYD: On one beautiful quarantine day - after being inside all day, I - it was, like, nighttime, and I just went for a walk to, like, this playground area and just sat on a bench. I didn't have any other words than the melody and the sentence that came to me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OUTSIDE MYSELF")

INFINITY SONG: (Singing) It's so hard to remember there's more to life than what's on my mind. It's more than what I'm feeling inside.

A BOYD: And I sang that over and over and over, and it actually helped me to feel better.

MARTIN: And then how did you build it out? How did it grow into a song?

A BOYD: Well, took me about straight two weeks of just writing, like, journal essays of what this song could possibly be about. And I was telling everyone, like, yeah, I have this song; I'll be done with it by Friday. That was Week 1.

(LAUGHTER)

A BOYD: So then I was like, all right, I'm going to call up Victory. She's going to know exactly what to do. And there is one day where - at this point, we only had the hook. We had just had been going back and forth trying to get the verse. Just get a verse. Just get a verse.

MARTIN: Was it stressful or...

A BOYD: It was super, super stressful...

(LAUGHTER)

A BOYD: ...Because it should be the easiest thing in the world. But it just - nothing was feeling right. And you always know when it's right. And then my dad called me. And I had a feeling that he was going to be like, Angel, what's going on? Like, what's taking so long? But he actually gave me, like, an extra sort of vote of faith and confidence. So he was like, you know how to write a song. Like, you know what you're doing. Don't doubt yourself. And then after that phone call, I ended up collapsing on my bed and, like, finally breaking down because the stress and the pressure was just too much.

V BOYD: Oh, my God.

A BOYD: And I was like, I don't know how to do this. And in that moment, it came.

V BOYD: Ooh, it be those moments.

A BOYD: Like, in that moment - directly after that phone call, the song was written. Like, it was done.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OUTSIDE MYSELF")

INFINITY SONG: (Singing) When my energy's tanking and my mind keeps on blanking and my hands won't stop shaking, oh, it's so hard to remember there's a world going on outside - outside.

A BOYD: That's actually where the song began. It didn't begin with me sitting on that bench in the park. It actually began in my room and probably having a breakdown exactly like that. And so that's why I realized I couldn't write the verse because I really didn't know where the song began until I was back in that moment.

MARTIN: I mean, Victory, she clearly had something. How much was it just her needing the confidence to do it?

V BOYD: Yeah, all of it was that. And actually (laughter), I called Daddy and told him that...

A BOYD: What?

MARTIN: To call?

A BOYD: You're kidding me.

V BOYD: I told him that she - Angel needed support in her songwriting process.

MARTIN: Are you just hearing this, Angel?

A BOYD: I'm - you're catching me live...

(LAUGHTER)

A BOYD: ...For the first time.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OUTSIDE MYSELF")

INFINITY SONG: (Singing) Oh, oh, more than what I'm feeling inside. You know that I need your help...

A BOYD: It's a recurring theme in a lot of my work is having a mental world of your own. I can tend to be very self-critical, and that's not always conducive to the best mental state. But I want people to feel like they can breathe when they hear this song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OUTSIDE MYSELF")

INFINITY SONG: (Singing) Let's go outside, take a ride, feel the light - more than what I'm feeling inside. Let's go outside, take a ride...

MARTIN: Angel and Victory Boyd of Infinity Song. You can hear their song "Outside Myself" in full at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.