Get To Know the Brother Duo behind the Music Brand, Box Boys

Marissa Duldulao

This brother duo from Los Angeles has been on the rise over the past couple years turning a music collective into a well-known community and media company that focuses on events, merch, music videos, and so much more. Gio Carbajal and Yahir Carbajal who are known as the Box Boys have built something remarkable from the ground up with their creative visions and the close connections they have made in the music industry, which eventually led to the creation of their popular festival series, BoxFest.

Last Saturday night, I had the chance to speak with Gio and Yahir right before their BoxFest show in New York where they sold out Irving Plaza. We discussed their journey on how they've influenced the rap underground scene and their story of starting the flourishing collective.

So this is the second time you guys are here in New York for BoxFest. How are you guys feeling?

Gio: We’re feeling good. Man, it’s been a whole year. 

Yahir: A whole 365 days. 

Gio: Bigger venue. Bigger artists. From warehouse, to Irving Plaza. 

Last year was at the Brooklyn Monarch?

Yahir: Brooklyn Monarch, yeah.

To Irving Plaza, that’s like a big jump.

Gio: I'm grateful we're able to even do a venue like this and have everyone pop out and fans support the culture, the industry, it's beautiful.

So first tell me how the Box Boys collective all started and how it led to you guys creating BoxFest?

Yahir: It's cool because me and Gio – we're friends with everyone so it's something where you know you have different points of views, different ideas, different environments colliding into one big environment and it's just crazy to see that. You just have everything colliding into one big meshed pool and you just know that's where the beauty is birthed from.

Gio: There were some bumps on the road like the first year we really had to solidify our presence because we didn't have much to speak upon besides music videos. So then us taking the first step jumping into festivals, we had to come in right. And then from festival one to three we felt a big trajectory change, and then now there's more credibility and respect on our name. So it was just those steps we had to go through, but through those bumps in the road and fight through it. We just keep pushing.

When growing up, did you guys always have in mind that you wanted to create something with music and work alongside artists?

Yahir: I knew in middle school I wanted to do something with music, but not necessarily be an artist. I tried in middle school, and it just didn't feel right. I never thought I was going to be a rapper or a singer, but I knew, like, growing up watching Cole Bennett, I knew I wanted to involve myself in this culture and this music scene not through songs, but through visual arts, events, and creating stuff for the culture.

Gio: Yeah, pretty much the same thing. We both pretty much picked up a camera from an early start. That was our tool to work into the music industry. Like he said, we didn't have a musical background, nor our parents in any way, so it was just out of the blue for us to make a decision like this. So us to break through, be seen, and be respected like we're artists, but obviously we’re not putting music out or portraying that image, it's kind of a beautiful crossover feeling from directing to now going to shows where we're treated the same way as every artist is with their own tour. 

How do you guys maintain growth?

Yahir: You just gotta try new things. Work with new artists. You definitely can't be scared. You can't be afraid of failing, therefore you already failed. Me and Gio, we were never ones to shy away from working with a new artist, getting a new artist in a BoxFest, doing a new merch collab with a different design, you just gotta push limits. And pushing limits, new opportunities open and that's where the growth happens.

Gio: That's my advice to everyone too. Just don't be scared of being original. That's the biggest thing. If you sometimes do the same thing everyone's doing, you're going to get the same result or even worse. 

When you guys first started out, was there a specific moment you guys had where you knew you could turn the collective into something bigger?

Yahir: I think it was New York. When we did our first BoxFest outside L.A., that was something for me that was like damn now it's not an L.A. thing, it's a coast to coast thing. And that's when I knew this could be something with my brother, with my friends, with everyone. Like we got something here.

So that was all a year ago?

Gio: There were little moments before that but then it was like it’s real. Aside from that, the collective was initially just us two the first two and a half years and now having a team and managers along our side, that really emphasized the collective. Now, we got people to rely on certain parts of the brand and now it's like that full collective feeling rather than just us two, so that’s a big change.

When creating the first lineup for BoxFest, did you guys intentionally plan to make it all pluggnb artists, or did you guys have other genres in mind?

Yahir: I think it was more so just artists that we like. I know it just so happened to be rap because I was heavy into rap growing up and I’ve been listening to it since I was young. But me and Gio just so happened to mess with rap artists and that's who we intentionally booked for our shows and through that we built our festival.

Do you guys take any creative inspiration from any other music video directors, creative artists, or creative directors?

Gio: Aside from Cole, there's many out there. There’s some like Gibson Hazard and really it’s just the direction they take, but honestly it’s really just those few names like Cole and Gibson Hazard from my blueprint and inspiration. There's more coming out that aren't buzzing with numbers or whatever they call the fame. But they're still doing big visuals and are talented like all the bigger heads. So I still keep up with the underground directors that feed more inspiration to our name. Once you stop learning, you kind of stop growing. That's how I see it.

When I saw Cole Bennett's interview with Kids Take Over, everything he was saying was motivating. 

Yahir: That really gave me so much reassurance. You could be as big as Cole Bennett and still hit rocky roads.

So are you guys trying to expand to other cities?

Yahir: Oh, 100%. We're going to do tours. The secondary markets like Arizona, Missouri City, just nationwide, man. 

Gio: Yeah, once we solidify states, then we start going global.

Yahir: After we hit L.A., New York, Chicago, Atlanta – we're going to conquer every city.

Gio: The goal is to be Worldwide. The advice we were given is to go slow, no need to rush this.

With the upcoming year, what are your goals for 2024?

Yahir: Bigger shows, bigger videos, bigger community, bigger experiences. One of one shit.

What's the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to pursue something creative and turn it into something big?

Gio: Something like this could seem scary, but you gotta look upon those lines. I always talk to my brother and we remind ourselves this life ends and we're gonna die. So if you fail or reach the top tier of success, both don't matter that much in our eyes, so why not go crazy?

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