BioMichael Sandison and Marcus Eoin experimented with creating music together through their teens. Part of a musical family, they began playing instruments at a young age, and experimenting with recording techniques at around 10-years-old. Using tape machines they experimented with laying cut-up samples of found sounds over compositions of their own. Although they had made music together as children, "Boards of Canada" did not exist until much later.
The band would have a nebulous roster throughout its history, encompassing at least fourteen different core members and an unknown number of collaborators.
Boards of Canada have said they "began writing and playing music in a more serious way at some point around 1987". They go on to say, "At first, we experimented without setting ourselves any questions, with whatever means were available to us, then we worked a lot with other musicians and with real instruments, which brought more complexity into our music. Five years ago , we sounded a lot more Gothic, much closer to experimental rock, with the occasional vocal. Though it was heading for electronic music; already we were sampling our own instruments. Then we went back to something closer to our original spirit: simple and instinctive, the only difference being that from then on, we could use all the wonders of digital technology, and so it was a lot easier to experiment and to get what we wanted"
By 1989, the band had been reduced to Michael and Marcus. In the early 1990s, a number of collaborations took place and the band was putting on small, fairly regular shows among the "Hexagon Sun" collective. In early 2000, the official website for the band, Music70.com, has removed the early discography of Boards of Canada, some information has been preserved by fans. The early tape releases of the band include "Play By Numbers," "Acid Memories," "Hooper Bay," and the earliest known release by the band is titled "catalog 3." None of the material from those days is readily available, and judging from the fact that the official BoC sources ignore the very existence thereof, there is little hope for the early music of the band to ever be released in the future.
Twoism was released 1995 on their own Music70 label. It was a self-financed cassette and LP distributed privately. Though not a widespread commercial release, it was considered of quality to be subsequently re-pressed in 2002 and serves as a demarcation point into more professional releases. Also in that year, their Edinburgh studio was christened Hexagon Sun. The precursor to Music Has the Right to Children was released in 1996. Titled Boc Maxima, it was a semi-private release that is notable for being a full-length album. Boc Maxima's work was later used for Music…, with which it shares many songs, though there were also a number of additions and subtractions. Boards of Canada's first commercial release occurred after attracting the attention of Autechre's Sean Booth of the English label Skam Records, one of many people sent a demo EP. Skam released what was considered their first "findable" work, Hi Scores, in 1996. Prior to that, their distribution had been limited to a small number of releases (mostly cassette-only) passed among friends and family. Another collection of prior and new songs was released as the seminal full-length album that many consider to be their real debut, Music Has The Right To Children, in 1998. Many consider this record to be a masterpiece, while others point out that much of its tone has been obviously inspired from other Warp Records luminaries, such as Autechre. Nevertheless, the popularity of the record was substantial enough to start a wave of "sound-alikes," a few of which went on to find their own sound and become established in their own right.
Boards of Canada released a four-track EP In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country in November 2000, their first original release in two years. The title had come from a recruiting video made by the Branch Davidians. The song "In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country" features the repeated vocals "Come out, and live in a religious community in a beautiful place out in the country." Another, "Amo Bishop Roden", is named after the Branch Davidian member of the same name. The full-length album Geogaddi was released in 2002. It was described by Sandison as "a record for some sort of trial-by-fire, a claustrophobic, twisting journey that takes you into some pretty dark experiences before you reach the open air again." The album has a darker, more complex, and fuller sound than Music Has the Right to Children.
Michael Sandison's first child, a girl, was born in July of 2004. Boards of Canada members Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin currently live a few miles outside Edinburgh, Scotland.