Growing up an '80s child, the term "boy toy" meant only one thing to me: Madonna. It was an over-the- top reclaiming of sexuality and femininity in the form of a chunky belt buckle. It may sound quaint in an era of fluid sexuality and #metoo movements of strength and defiance, but back then a woman calling herself a boy toy while wearing a busty white bridal gown was both liberating and shocking. So, a few years back, when I happened upon a band of surf and skate chicks out of Brooklyn who made infectious garage pop and went by the name Boytoy, I was immediately intrigued.
Even more intriguing was the fact that one of them was a Florida native. Glenn Van Dyke (guitars and vocals) grew up in Jacksonville and has just recently, after living in NY for the last 10 years, decided to buy her first home back in her hometown. "We tour so much and I thought it'd be nice to have a place outside of the city, close to the beach, big enough for a recording studio and a practice space that could be an oasis not only for me, but for bands on the road, including Boytoy," she explains.
Of course what this also means is that now every member of Boytoy lives in a different state. While Van Dyke is surfing the Florida coast, singer-guitarist Saara Untracht-Oakner is still in Brooklyn, new drummer Chase Noelle (formerly of Thelma & the Sleaze) is in Nashville, and sometimes-bassist Lena Simon of La Luz calls L.A. home. How does that work? "It's a new endeavor! There are pros and cons to it but we meet up before we tour to practice. ... We're on the road a lot so it works out. I personally am excited to explore this lifestyle because we have four options of cities to take up residency in for a bit," says Van Dyke. "We can spread out!"
Though, most often, these ladies are on the road, which brings about all kinds of deep political and philosophical conversations ... especially with international fans. "We were on tour in Europe during the final campaigning of the 2016 election. We had a lot of conversations about American politics, which was illuminating. Aside from harboring a certain concern for the future, the conversations were refreshing talks about politics with well-tempered opinions," she says. "We are taught here to avoid topics like religion and politics, therefore when we have them, and are faced with opposition, we get angry so fast and words escalate. It's like a 'with me or against me' mentality. We never encountered any opposition directed at us personally. Most people over there are smart enough to know that just because you are an American doesn't mean you're a socially and environmentally unconscious racist. "
When Van Dyke is not touring the world, she's excited to dive into the local music scene brewing in Northeast Florida. Not one to dip her toes gently, she's already got plans to host a two-day garage rock festival (Winterland) the weekend before her band's Orlando show. Van Dyke's enthusiasm is infectious: "This is for sure the biggest show I've put together. It's been a wild ride but also rather seamless. There's been great reception here and some incredible Jacksonville people involved with making it happen. I'd love to make it an annual thing!"
Van Dyke promises that there is a new Boytoy album on the way: "It's coming! It's a boy and a girl and a mermaid! Stay tuned for an official release date!" But first there's a handful of Florida dates. Catch these ladies before the tide pulls them back out to sea.