Sports Boyfriend brings fresh face to pop


Courtesy Kristin Pederson

Sports Boyfriend, a pop-electronic project, will perform at The Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave. on Feb. 13.

By Blair Paddock

Eileen Peltier, a 2016 economics and art history alumna from DePaul University, started her music project as a joke, thinking “Sports Boyfriend” would be a funny band name.

Since January 2016, the project has taken off and she’s played shows across the city at venues like Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave., and the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave., to name a few. Heavily influenced by Grimes, Peltier’s pop, electronic songs give listeners snippets of relatable memories like when she repeats, “I swear I saw something in the way you speak” in “Pop Psychology.” Peltier said she’ll take an idea out of a scenario even if it is just an inconsequential thing.

The Chronicle spoke with Sports Boyfriend about her project, starting in the DIY scene and her anticipation of headlining at The Empty Bottle Feb. 13.

THE CHRONICLE: How did Sports Boyfriend start?

EILEEN PELTIER: The name came first. Then I was working on music on my computer in my dorm, and I figured I may as well put it online just to see what happens. Obviously nothing happened with the first couple things that I put on there, but then about a year in, a guy from this band called Heavenly Beasts messaged me and was very encouraging about it. I was like, “Okay, I guess I’ll keep going with this.” Then I played my first show last January. After that, I kept on saying yes when people asked me to play shows. 

Where did the “Sports Boyfriend” name come from?

I have a varsity jacket—I’ve had it since high school—and once my sister was making fun of me for wearing it, calling it a “sports boyfriend jacket.” 

How do you think Chicago’s DIY scene has helped you grow as a musician?

I definitely don’t think I would have gotten into playing live if that hadn’t been an option; it’s pretty intimidating. I had never been a performer in any other way. I wasn’t in a different band before this or even into theater or something when I was younger. If I hadn’t had that kind of comfort level the community kind of provides, I don’t think I would’ve gotten started in the same way. 

What do you suggest to artists who are nervous to perform for an audience?

My first show I definitely didn’t know what I was doing, but it was okay, because a lot of times people don’t notice that stuff from the audience, which I just don’t think I realized. Definitely put yourself out there, maybe a little bit before you’re totally prepared, because if you keep trying to feel that way it’s never going to happen. Just try to say yes to as many opportunities that come up as possible. 

Where do you take most of your musical inspiration from?

When I got started, a lot of female solo artists who produce their work as well was a big inspiration because I didn’t really want to be in a band, but I didn’t want to just be making music with a guitar. Definitely when Grimes first released her album “Visions,” I think that’s probably when I was going into my freshman year, and I found out that she had made it all herself, I was like, “Oh, you can definitely learn how to do this.” Also, listening to her older work [to] see how it had developed and how everyone starts in the same place and that nobody starts amazing at it. 

How would you describe your sound?

The instrument that I’m best at is the guitar, so there’s always going to be a little bit of an outlet with that in my stuff, just because it’s the easiest for me to write on and I feel the most comfortable playing it. I would say it’s pretty pop-y, especially where I get my inspiration with song structures and stuff from. Sound-wise is kind of whatever is inspiring me at the time. That definitely leans into mostly electronic stuff. 

Where do you get inspiration for your lyrics?

It’s mainly just things that are happening in my life. Whether they’re actually affecting my life, in reality, doesn’t really matter to me. It’s more if I can get an idea out of that scenario even if it is just a very inconsequential thing in my actual life.

I found that if it comes from a place of actual emotion at some point, then it will turn out better than if I try to be like, “I’m going to write a song about this,” if I don’t really know what it is, then it won’t really be very good. 

What’s the significance of the white roses you pass out at the shows?

I have this big table that I put my computer on, my drum pads and stuff, and I just don’t like the way it looks with nothing else on there. The white roses make it a little bit more organic feeling rather than having this table. It’s just kind of fun to be able to toss them and give them away to people. It helps people remember it as an experience too. A lot of people will go to shows three or four nights a week so it’s nice to have something for them to remember it by. I feel a little bit more prepared by something like that.