Boy Jr. Finds a Career From Viral TikTok Fame

Boy Jr. held an album release party in June of this year after putting out their debut, “Pay Attention to Meee,” earlier in the month. Photo Courtesy: Ash Hausrath

This fall, houses all throughout the village of New Paltz have been opening their doors for audiences to catch a glimpse of the impressive talents of artists of all sizes. On Nov. 11, the Bath House, a new house show venue, was set to host their second show ever featuring Kopps and Boy Jr. on their Planet Bitch Tour. Due to some unfortunate irony, however, the Bath House show had to be canceled as a result of plumbing issues at the house.

Even if some live shows don’t come to fruition, New Paltz audiences have encountered artists who are making waves and showing us what the future of music might look like, and it looks a lot like Erica Lubman, otherwise known as Boy Jr.

With over 300,000 followers and nearly 10 million likes across videos on their TikTok (@boyjr.69), Lubman has essentially solidified their role as the face of a new era of music that many artists seem to be floundering in. But it hasn’t always been this way. Lubman has put in the work to make themself stand out from the ever-growing crowd of musicians that social media has granted us almost unrestricted access to. Their work with Boy Jr. officially started in 2015 when they decided to put a name to their passion after setting up DIY solo project nights with their friends at SUNY Purchase, where they graduated from in 2018. Over those few years, Lubman developed the sound for the project to the “combination of electro-pop and synth rock elements that are really definitive today.” Even before then, Lubman had been writing music since their childhood and grew up with musicians for parents resulting in a “love and appreciation for music and the love and appreciation for sharing music and teaching music.”

The long history that built up to their passionate, personal love for music led them to get more involved with producing on their own and exploring what their future could look like. After college is when Lubman says they “started getting really into short-form content stuff and giving myself a lot of little assignments with the crossover covers and novelty songs to just write stuff and film things.” In 2019, they posted their first video on TikTok, and since then, the aforementioned crossover covers have become closely tied to their presence on the app. The crossover covers (or the “What if…” playlist on their profile) asks the question, what if one pop song was done in the style of a completely different artist — such as, “What if ‘As it Was’ by Harry Styles was a Strokes song?”  These videos, along with other novelty songs they’ve made on TikTok, captivate audiences in a way that no other artist seems to be doing. It’s different than just covering a song, which is still impressive. Lubman illustrates a deep understanding of what makes audiences enjoy music from different artists and play into that while maintaining their own image as Boy Jr.

The image of Boy Jr. is something that is impressively unique and completely their own. Kerry Lubman, Erica’s sibling and drummer for Boy Jr., is a 2020 graduate of SUNY New Paltz and the graphic designer for the project. They stated that “the culture [in New Paltz] just made a lot of sense with the image and persona and voice and goals of Boy Jr.,” since they started working with their sibling on this project before their time at New Paltz began. The look and persona of Boy Jr. are a collective effort by this team and the music is really at the core of it. Kerry noted that while they are working on designs for Boy Jr. (posters, merch, web design), they are almost exclusively listening to Boy Jr. The music inspires the persona and allows Kerry to create art for the project that “looks the way it sounds” to them, creating a cohesive look and sound that is a clear mutual vision.

Despite the Bath House show being canceled, keep an eye out for more from the Boy Jr. team. New Paltz is on their radar, and they say that they are “so glad to be able to do live shows again … It’s a great reminder that life and music careers happen outside of TikTok and Instagram and algorithms.”