The address was unfamiliar, and digital maps didn’t help much. Even the flyer was a bit vague—Paris Texas would host a “pop-up van,” selling T-shirts out the back of a beat-up white cargo van. Proceeds were going to the local NAMI branch, but beyond that, information was scarce. Fans were not: a half hour before the group’s arrival, bodies began to converge on a desolate street in Downtown LA. The only landmark was a brewery two blocks away, unless you counted a tall barbed-wire fence that ran the length of the street. On the other side of the fence was a parking lot, half-full with more unmarked white cargo vans.

Then, in the distance, Pharrell’s unmistakable percussion started to punch through the white noise of surrounding freeways. As the music drew closer, Justin Timberlake’s vocals on “Like I Love You” touched the sky, and a van swerved around the corner, music blasting. 

The crowd circled. Film cameras and camcorders were unholstered to frame the van doors, capturing the words “Ditch-Maid Cleaners” outlined in red along the side. To the Paris Texas faithful, the red scythe decal signaled another thrilling descent into the cinematically hellish world of Paris Texas. The duo’s Louie Pastel and Felix first appeared as a clean-up crew for contract killers in “HEAVY METAL,” their blue coveralls and black high-tops awash in blood and violence. They turned up again a month later as blocky animations in “SITUATIONS,” this time driving a Ditch-Maid van and swinging shovels at the Grim Reaper. 

As release day approached this past May, minute-long snippets of the Ditch-Maid workday surfaced on YouTube, and a fuller picture began to emerge: even if they were moving corpses and mopping up murders, the job didn’t make them monsters. These characters just needed work. 

By the time Louie Pastel and Felix emerge from the van, the BOY ANONYMOUS project has been out in the world for just over 24 hours. If the fawning media coverage (present company included) is any indication, it’s one of the best releases from a new artist in some time. Varyingly intense, soothing, and dense, the music of Paris Texas is consistently one thing: their own. And while BOY ANONYMOUS will certainly be remembered as an arrival, these two already have years of collaboration behind them.

On the street, the crowd has gathered around the duo to ask questions and give thanks. This is Louie and Felix’s first time since quarantine interacting with listeners in person. “It made me feel a lot better about everything,” Louie told me later. “A lot of the love and appreciation felt kind of fake at first. [Today] wasn’t something crazy, but it was enough where I’m like, oh, these people genuinely fuck with it.” 

The gathered masses seem to be equal parts friends and followers. Louie and Felix were both born and raised in L.A., and built a community of support over the years that has spilled from the sidewalk, into the street, and onto the opposite sidewalk. The mood is giddy and expectant. The band’s managers sell black and red T-shirts out the back of the van, while Louie DJs from his phone, mouthing the lyrics and chain smoking between greetings. They sign shirts, pose for pictures, and take questions from the sea of tie-dye, piercings, and tattoos.

Two hours later, they’re still at it. Louie and Felix have pledged to stick around until everyone else tires out, and that ends up being most of the afternoon. When we finally meet at a nearby recording label where frequent collaborator Austin Taylor-Richburg works as head of creative, the two look like they’ve just run a marathon, tired but content. But that may have had more to do with an unintentional fast than a lack of energy. In any event, we could still laugh at the fact I was the only other person wearing an imitation Ditch-Maid uniform.

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