Boy Willows Drops Dreamy Music Video for "Fila" [Q&A]


Boy Willows, aka Landon Fleischman, makes music that offers a deep amalgamation of incandescent alt-pop, jubilant jazz, and psychedelic-tinged folk. Impeccably paired with sensory lyricism and passionate vocals, he delivers a hypnotic and singular resonance.

The LA-via-Maryland artist recently shared his new single “Fila” with Dylan Minnette of Wallows. On “Fila,” Boy Willows stretches out to embrace relatable themes of vulnerability and healing both inwardly and outwardly without feeling overbearingly serious. “Fila” serves as a therapy session between two friends as they cope with being alone in different ways. Nestled in a warm and gentle soundscape, the sonic components are woven with nostalgia, charm, and a bit of whimsy. We caught up with Willows for a quick Q&A about the track and the equally nostalgic and whimsical music video directed by Boy Willows, shot by Seannie Bryan (Madeline Kenney, Skullcrusher) and edited by Jordan Pories.

Ones to Watch: This song, although short and sweet, seems to have a lot of complexity to it. It sounds like throughout the single, the main characters are grappling with feelings of loneliness and figuring out how to cope. What is this song about to you, and how did this song come to be?

Boy Willows: I think both verses deal with the thoughts that bubble up when you feel useless, small, or alone, but what I love about the song is there’s a twinge of hope. My goal with Fila was to spur myself into believing that I could create my own reality of acceptance and momentum. I had been feeling isolated a while before the pandemic hit - on the perimeter looking in on other people’s social circles or relationships or success. My hope was that by acknowledging these truths in a song, I could start to take up my own space, make my own club of acceptance per se.

What was the creative process like for the single? What made you want to go for this very ethereal sound, and were you inspired by anything in particular?

I worked on this super grand, minute-long glitchy harmony thing and pitched it down an octave (oooo). It was so soothing and slow and big, I started producing around it, and I felt like I was in a dream where I could say anything I wanted, no matter how heavy or light.

What are your thoughts on girls that wear Fila?

Haha, in short, they’re cool. This song is truly a peek into all the thoughts that were swirling around my brain, making me feel alone - and one of those thoughts was about aging. I wish this wasn’t the truth, but I was feeling fear about getting older. I wrote that line about Filas and didn’t think much of it or even really understand why I wrote it until a couple nights ago. It’s definitely a light-hearted observation about youth culture, but I think I wanted to poke fun at it cuz I felt like I wasn’t a part of it for the first time - and that frightened me. It’s insane that even that line was born out of the fear of being left out, but I’m pretty sure that’s the true true.

I loved not only the sonic atmosphere you created, but also the story of you told through the lyrics. Do you have a favorite verse from this track or one that speaks to you? What is your approach when it comes to songwriting?

I just love how much the endings of each verse stick out - “I just feel like I don’t deserve this life.” It’s a line you could interpret so many different ways, and each way would be true. When I’m working on a song, it starts with the music. I picture where it takes me, how fast I’m moving, if I feel cool or angry or defeated, and if I’m lucky, a phrase will fall out of my mouth that feels true, even if it doesn’t make sense at first.

I think the music video does a great job of visualizing the lightheartedness of “Fila.” What was the creative process like, and what was it like working with your team on the video?

There’s this fucking incredible animated video called Satiemania from 1978 made by this Croatian animator, Zdenko GaÅ¡parović. In it, there’s a delectable section where it’s just different shoes walking in an impossibly groovy way. I wanted that tone of animation mixed with the camaraderie and fuckit-energy of The Pharcyde’s “Drop” music video. I brought those ideas to my genius creative friend/ shaman, Jordan Pories, and we got to work, exploring the world of the song, trying to amplify and showcase everything in a dreamy, slow way. Seannie Bryan is a recent friend of mine and a killer DP. She captured the dreamy light perfectly. We rolled up to the spot at 6am. It was 90 degrees, and we knocked it out in an hour and a half, only stopping once because I was going to throw up from spinning.

Dylan Minette’s voice perfectly compliments the laid back yet introspective vibe of the song, and it looked like y'all had a lot of fun doing the music video. What was working with him like, and how did he get involved with this single?

He and I go way back. We used to be in rival boy scout gangs. No, I do lighting for Wallows, and we met through that. One day on the tour bus, I was showing him some new tunes, one of which was “Fila.” It was 35 seconds, and he said it needed to be longer, so I said, “hop on in.” He added his verse, and we were OFF TO THE RACES. He’s got a really strong creative compass and just knows what he likes. We finished the song in a couple days - fucking painless, dare I say, very enjoyable bordering on a lot of fun.

Tell me about Desert Mike. I feel like although rattlesnakes do deserve some love and I agree that the war between them and human beings is senseless, I’m not exactly in a rush to give them a pat on the head…Ok, but for real, tell me about this clip at the end. Is it an easter egg for a future single? In your last single, “i love it when you talk,” you intercut the clips of you with film footage from the 80s and 90s. Is Desert Mike a Boy Willows creation or a relic from the past?

SHEESH, am I paying you?? because if not, then I SHOULD. The Boy Willows canon is a long, meandering labyrinth of characters that doesn’t conform to traditional standards of “time” or “being funny” or “good. Desert Mike exists in all Boy Willows worlds, though, this much I can say. In the ILIWYT video, Desert Mike easily could have made a feature, and now I want to know who you’ve been talking to…your ability to connect the dots is…suspicious.

Has the pandemic effected you or inspired you as an artist? If so, how?

Really hot take comin at ya, I think the pandemic is not good. Bad even! I lost my job, so financially, I’ve been very inspired to survive haha. This isn’t the sexiest answer, but the truth for me is, I put everything into my music but am also looking for a job - sometimes balancing those two things is really fucking hard. Instead of feeling inspired to write about my difficulties, I just want to solve them. So I’m really looking forward to landing a part-time gig as a call representative for Spirit Airlines, so I can get back to making my music.

Once the world comes to a state of a new normal, what’s the first thing you want to do?

I’d love to travel somewhere new with my friends. A friend of mine is living in New Zealand working on an alpaca farm. You bet your ass I’m flying there at the first chance.

Alternate fun idea: Get a table at a restaurant, deep in the back, as far inside as possible. Order one appetizer every 30 minutes and stay there for a minimum of nine hours, just being so loungey and just snacking hard, mozzarella sticks flying every which way, napping in marinara sauce.

When shows and concerts are back, who do you want to see, and who do you want to tour or play with?

When touring comes back, I would LOVE to tour with Jadu Heart, Far Caspian, Sure Sure, to name a few. I just want to crowd surf for a month straight honestly. Give a ton of sweaty hugs. I want to see Toro y Moi, Thumpasaurus, Squirrel Flower.

Who have you been listening to throughout the pandemic? Are there any Ones To Watch?

A lot of Tribe Called Quest for long drives. I’ll put "Check The Rhime” on repeat. I just discovered this dude named Shuttle his song “Boy” is fucking groooovy. I’m an OG KT Tunstall stan too - I’ve been bumping her 2013 album “Invisible Empire” like a mad man. Kevin Morby for the campy vibes, Rufus for the stank, Lomelda for the love, Van Morrison because if I get married, my first dance will be to “Crazy Love,” and I like to daydream about that when I drive. Last but most important, The Prince of Egypt soundtrack.

Oh also, I’ve been listening to a lot of Anna Burch, Far Caspian, Bea1991, a compilation of geese wearing hats, Mei, Shuttle and this new artist you HAVE to listen to - he’s a little out there but give him a try, Drake.