Bret Bender and Madeleine Miller have been creating emotionally complex, evocative synth pop under the moniker Bogan Via since 2012. Their new album, Tough to Kill came out December 7th. For the occasion, we asked the band to tell us about each track. Their commentary on the album can be seen below.
Chillin' came about one night when Maddie and I were drinking some wine and in the mood to write. There was this melody we had created while jamming ages ago, but never introduced to anything. Maddie loved it so much, she really wanted to use it in something. So we started there, incorporated the melody in the verses and then kept moving forward. I tend to overcomplicate songs while composing, so the goal was to create something super minimal in instrumentation and make it more of a duet in vocals. Maddie was also going through a rough time during its creation so the song kinda ended up being this narrative on her own struggles. That “bitch” inside your head, telling you you aren’t good enough. ‘Chillin’ is about silencing those voices.
Rewind is such an energetic throwback to the 80’s kinda song. We co-wrote this one with a very good friend, who created the opening vocals, which just immediately catch your attention. It’s kinda a grungy, electro hip hop track. It’s about a man trying to relive his youth and the people you may sacrifice for that nostalgia.
Tough to Kill
Tough to Kill is one of our personal faves on the LP. We were watching ‘Ozark’ (on Netflix) at the time and Maddie was like, this show has such a vibe, lets write a song that exists in this world! We love to do that. It’s really fun to watch a film, or series and be inspired by the tone, the mood, the characters. So we wrote “Tough to Kill”. It just has this bleakness to it in its instrumentation. You can feel the desperation and the stakes are high. It’s a story about giving up your morals to survive. Coincidentally, the song feels like a reflection of how tough Los Angeles has been on us too.
I Want U, I Want U Too
I Want U, I Want U Too is a sugary sweet high school love bop. We showed some friends the album before it was released and people kept gravitating to this one, so we knew it was hitting in all the right places! I think it’s so catchy and upbeat! There is a lot going on in this track so it was challenging to get everything balanced while mixing, there were a couple of ways to do it, and the final version is a bit different from the demo, but we think its banging! This was one of the first songs we ever composed where I (Bret) dabbled in some rapping. At first, I felt self conscious about it because I am in no way a rapper, haha, but it seemed to catch on and kinda became a theme throughout the LP.
Videos is this sultry, dark, dream pop that kinda just creeps along. I think one blog put it best saying, “‘Videos’ is the kind of tastefully sensual song you’d imagine hearing in a classy strip club.” We love that! We were listening to a lot of The Weeknd before we created ‘Videos’ and I was really taken aback at how he put his melodies together; how the rhythm of the melody worked so well with the beat of the song. ‘Videos’ is just smooth as butter and we’ve never really done something like it, so its definitely an elevated sound for Bogan Via. Originally, I had sang on this one and Maddie loved it, but I really wanted to it hear it done entirely with a female vocal, and that ended up being the favorite.
Funky Intro to Love
Funky Intro to Love is kinda an homage to Mac DeMarco. We love his psychedelic sound and I had created this opening synth part that we were super excited about. I was actually scared to finish the song because I worried it wouldn’t live up to the intro. But we added all these dreamy “ahhhs”, the vocals started telling this doped up love story and the song really took on its own power and personality. The breakdown at the end is our favorite part. It just grooves!
Come Down is Bogan Via up in the club! It’s pure energy on uppers, just a great, punchy pop number! There is a subtle sexuality to the track in its lyrics and the way the instrumentation builds. It starts off really slow, captivating and hypnotic, then it all just erupts into this effervescent, dance jam! We think its a pretty sexy song.
Love I Bleed
Love I Bleed is so lush and beautiful. It’s one of our favorite songs on the LP! It is so rich and deep in synths and vocals. We really utilized these modulation pedals we have for this track and that became its foundation. It’s an emo take on electro pop. Kinda like Bon Iver on quaaludes, haha. We love how melodic and melancholic it is. It's a song about a relationship gone sour. I think lyrically everyone could really relate to the track and it is probably one of the most fun ones to play live!
VVorth went through so many rewrites because we couldn't quite land on the chorus. Banks is one of Maddie’s favorite artists and we were really influenced by her sound while writing this one. The song is all about women being constantly dismissed by society. The song really transcended when our producer, Le Tronz, worked his magic on it. He added these trap music elements that just elevated it!
Emotion is a song we made a couple of years ago. It just wasn’t hitting the notes we wanted it to so we reworked it and its more of a remix of the original song now. But it turned out to be the best improvement! We added some saxophone and love the uniqueness it brings, it almost feels wrong in a way but it just works! The song just grows so organically. We have never done a jam out kind of a song, and ‘Emotion’ is just that!