Finding no comfort in the trappings of any single genre, Boy Eats Drum Machine—the musical moniker of Portland, Oregon, native Jon Ragel—chose to create a sound flexible enough to incorporate everything he loved. When the project began, in 2001, that meant evoking the blips and bleeps of Pac Man and Metroid with a sampler and a four-track. But by 2005, it meant incorporating a turntable as Boy Eats Drum Machine’s primary rhythmic instrument and liberally adding layers of sound from there. His one-man-band approach is best seen in concert, where Ragel sings, spins, scratches, plays saxophone, and beats live drums behind an elaborate station of his own design. Oh, and he dances (really well!) the whole time. In the hands of a lesser musician, this all might come off as an impressive gimmick, but Boy Eats Drum Machine’s songs are as soulful and personal as they are technically impressive.
Boy Eats Drum Machine has released two critically lauded full-lengths, Booomboxxx (in 2008) and Hoop+Wire (in 2010), with Tender Loving Empire. His latest full-length, M1, was released in early 2001 on Ragel’s own Dee Leet records. He recently relocated to Santa Cruz, California, but still roots for the Trail Blazers.