INTERVIEW: TeamMate

Indie pop duo TeamMate who consists of Dani Buncher and Scott Simons, began their musical journey together after their ten year relationship ended when Dani came out to her boyfriend Scott. A few years after the break up, the two paired up and created TeamMate as a way to express what they felt through the break up and how they have grown as friends. The two released their EP Sequel this past April 2013 and are currently touring in the United States.

So when exactly did the music project TeamMate start? Was it while you were together as a couple at all, or did it start mainly when you were no longer dating?

Scott: Well actually, when we were dating we each did our own music things, but we never really combined. A couple of times Dani and I played some shows or we played songs together in her parents’ basement, but we never really until after we broke up we decided to start playing music together. We felt like when we broke up we had something to say, and it just kind of grew organically.

How were you able to come together to make this band and personal music? After all it must have been hard for the two of you given your history together.

Dani: Yeah some time had passed since the break up, it wasn’t like an immediate transition, a few years passed since the break up and we had time to kind of rebuild our relationship, in which our dynamic shifted to pretty much a different sort of direction and that was when we were able to start the band, and it’s probably not a project we would of been able to do fresh after a break up. We both had established what our relationship was at that point which was platonic friends, and at that point and it kind of made sense.

Scott: Yeah after a few years had passed and I was writing about the break up on my own, it got more comfortable to say things that I really wanted to say, maybe they weren’t or maybe they were more personal than we were ready for right after the break up at the time, but all the stuff we are writing now we are ready to say. It just became a thing where emotionally it just spilled over into songs and it just felt like a nice tipping point in our relationship to write about it for some reason.

Do you as a band try to be there for or inspire others who have gone through a tough breakup with your music?

Dani: When we first put out Sequel, one of our first thoughts with that was that we could help other people maybe or maybe inspire somebody else or others who are going through the same sort of thing, and we were inspired by other friends of ours that had gone through similar situations so we kind of saw that there was a positive way for our kind of relationship to end and start something else.

Scott: Well when I left Pittsburgh and moved to Los Angeles, one of the first writing sessions I had was with a writer who was a little bit older than me and who had been through a similar situation as me. They had been in a straight relationship for a long time and then she came out to her ex boyfriend and best friends. When I heard this I felt like a lightbulb went off in my head, like Dani and I could totally do that, we are stronger than this, and yeah we had someone come up to us and pour their heart out to us in New York just a couple weeks ago at our show. She told us she was going through the exact same thing, that she was coming out to her husband, and at the time he didn’t know how to take it and she said she would put on Sequel and told him listen to this and she said it helped them move  forward, and if that’s the case then yeah I hope so, I think it started as to be there just for us but if it helps other people then that’s awesome too.

Dani, when did you realize you were gay and what was it like when you decided to come out to Scott?

Dani: There wasn’t really like a moment where it all kind of occurred to me, we were together for ten years and a good chunk through that relationship, in the middle of that relationship was long distance and so there might of been some issues but then our dynamic was always in our connection, like something wasn’t connecting right maybe there was tension at a certain point, but we were always able to kind of just sweep it under the rug because we were long distance and we just wanted to make the best of the time we did have together. It wasn’t really until I moved back to Pittsburgh from New York City, and we moved in together and the lease for the house was like two years, and that’s when tension started to grow and I was kind of forced to really look inside myself and see what was going on and why maybe I was causing a lot of the tension. I just had to do a lot of reflection and see what the change was all about. And I think at one point I had been talking to some friends and I had a good support group of friends around me that helped me and I don’t think that there was like a big epiphany or giant realization, but I think we were having an argument one night…

Scott: I felt like things were coming to a point where we had to push it, like something needed to change and after ten years, if this wasn’t working then something needed to change. I feel like maybe I pushed for a fight to get something to happen that night and that’s kind of what the first verse of the song is, maybe not literal but it’s pretty close.

Dani: It’s pretty close, yeah it just got to the point where it just came out of me. And I was just like s***! I think this is what’s going on!

Scott: My observation being close to the coming out process is it’s different how someone comes out to different people in their lives. And our process of her coming out to me was like it lasted over a year, we stayed together another year to try to see if this was something and part of who she was and what did this mean for us. And it took a year to really sort it out, it wasn’t like a rational decision like oh let’s just think about this for a year, it was just the amount of time it took to do it.

Dani: Yeah it was kind of like, we had been there for each other for so long and neither one of us was kind of ready to just throw in the towel, but we both respect each other enough to not throw in those other elements of depression of breaking up right away and we kind of stayed together for a year just to support each other through the process.

Scott: But it was a hard process.

Dani: Yeah it was not easy.

You guys recently released the song “Love is Love” can you explain the inspiration behind that song and why you wrote it?

Scott: We had already released the EP and we were personally both really invested in the equality movement and we had our eyes on the court case and we knew based on news reports when it was coming down to it. We thought wouldn’t it be great if we had a song you know for that time and we didn’t know at the time when we wrote it, if it was going to be a celebratory song or a defiant song but when we first wrote it, it was a little more bitter like why don’t you get it?! And why don’t you see this? And why don’t you agree with us? And then I think the lyrics became more celebratory, like we could still celebrate the direction of the movement and how things are going to start regardless of how the supreme court case came out. Which we were both ecstatic when it came down the way it did. But either way we felt the song should be celebratory and celebrate the whole movement and the way things are going and how fast they are changing.

Are you guys currently working on a full length album or are you focusing on touring at the moment?

The touring thing may be the hardest part for a newer band,  getting out there and touring, so we are always ready to do that. But this tour is going great it was an amazing opportunity for us and so that really helped push things in the right direction, the full length we have been working on for a long time now. It’s getting really close to done but we are still writing to try to beat what we have and like I said “Love is Love” came out and that just happened so fast and recently and that will most likely make the record, so we are working on a full length, its close to done but we are still trying to write to see what else we have.

You guys are playing a show this weekend here in San Francisco at The Chapel, and you guys have played in The City before, can you tell me what your favorite thing about San Francisco is?

Scott: There is something East Coast more so about San Francisco. LA I love because I live there, I really do like it but its like its own planet it’s in a bubble, but San Francisco has such a great character to it. It does something and I don’t know if every time we are there it’s a little less sunny than LA that it feels like an East Coast city to us. There is just something more character that I love about San Francisco.

Check out the behind the scenes video for the band’s Sequel EP here!

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