Happy takes a deep dive into the world of Boy and Bucket
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Happy takes a deep dive into the world of Boy and Bucket

boynbucket
Credit: Press

“Being myself on stage and experimenting with my different energies in such an exposed way was so powerful. I was really able to kinda figure out my own identity as a trans person.”

Boy and Bucket have been through a rollercoaster of emotions, and heartbreaking experiences from a young age. The all-trans indie folk trio emerged as a band that creates space for sharing the complexities of life as well as the joy of friendship.

Their music explores the themes of grief and fundamental queer truths, but their music doesn’t sound as sombre as their topics, they have found a way to make their message digestible for listens with catchy anthems, as well as experimenting with various sounds in how they feel fit to convey their message. Whether this be delicate interplay and harmonies paired with gentle guitar playing, or raw power with with gravelling screams.

In the wake of the re-release of their emotional single In High Places, Happy has spent some time getting to know Boy and Bucket, taking a deep dive into their world of grief, music and their queerness.

HAPPY: Tell us about your relationship as a band and as friends.

BOY: We became friends in a time of grief when Yasmin – my partner, and Bucket’s good friend – passed away. In grieving, we started writing music together. Specifically, we wrote the song In High Places together one night, when we were drunk and sad, at our friend Lily’s place. In writing that song, we subconsciously started a band. We started writing more and more music together and spending more and more time together. That’s how we became a band and friends.

BUCKET: Honestly, we weren’t that close beforehand. There’s something incredibly special about being able to create something beautiful out of something so terrible. To be able to bond, not just on a superficial level, but on the ability to kind of get through really tough times together. 

BOY: Our relationship now is very focused on the musical aspect of things. Musically, neither of us really work with anyone else as closely as we do together. You know, everything we do is a dual process. Everything we do, we do together. And that’s like a very special relationship that I don’t think that we have anywhere else. Creatively we’ll work with other people for sure, but as a relationship, the one that we have is very unique.

BUCKET: I can’t imagine doing this project with anyone else.

HAPPY: Tell us about the process of working together.

BUCKET: Our process normally starts with a guitar or harmony line. Generally, it’s Boy doing that because they’re a lot better guitar player than me (laughs). Then we’ll start a voice recorder and we just see what comes out. After that we listen back and write what we sang. A lot of the time that’s genuinely how the whole song comes about. Something very deep and primal that often ends up emerging which often doesn’t require any tweaking at all. The song is basically born fully formed out of nothing. Other times we do a few passes of tidying up lyrics and cleaning things up. 

BOY: I think with my solo music, I can just be so like, scrutinized to the point that I don’t even write a song. Whereas when we’re working together there’s this requirement of saying “yes and”. Like shutting down somebody else’s creativity is very rude, because you’re being so vulnerable. Whereas when I songwriter alone I’ll very often be like “No, this idea sucks” and stop doing it. Working with each other can be a lot more fluid. Someone will be like, “I have this idea”, then we’ll be like, “Yeah, that’s great. Let’s add this to it. What if we change this lyric here? I hate the bridge. Let’s rewrite it.” You know? It can be a lot more fluid and flow really easily when everyone’s just “yes anding”.

For the live performance side, our energies are so wildly different. I think we end up speaking quite a lot to different audience members. Bucket will engage people by being big and outlandish. They’ll be screaming and rolling around on the floor in such an engaging way. I have less mobility, so I think my engagement can be quite vocal. The words that come out of my mouth is what creates engagement. The real physical aspect, the spoken aspect, and our connection all combines. It makes something really, really special that we’ve definitely noticed our fan base connected to and enjoying.

BUCKET: Yeah, that contrast and difference that we provide, I think, really speaks to the diversity of people. Different people can connect to both of our energies in different ways. 

BOY: Yeah, absolutely. It’s the juxtaposition of it all.

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Credit: Press

HAPPY: What are some other projects you’ve done since that you’re proud of?

BUCKET: I think the one thing I’m extremely proud of is the Songs To Stay Inside To album, which was our first album ever released. It was just before COVID really hit. At the time we were working on properly recording studio versions of some of our songs, but we didn’t have time to really finish everything before lockdowns began. And so we just decided “You know what, let’s just record nine songs back to back and capture that energy”. We just wanted to get everything out there. One take. One mic. All in Boy’s sweaty loft bedroom. I don’t know if I would be brave enough to do that now. I’m so proud of us at that moment. For being able to put our egos aside, and just get something, however raw, out there into the world.

BOY: Absolutely.

HAPPY: Where can we find you playing regularly?

BOY: Every month we have a gig at the Sappho’s Bar and Bookshop in Glebe. We’re often playing lots of different events and lots of local queer events. We’re always in Sydney, mostly in the Inner West. Our Instagram (@boyandbucket), is where we mainly promote the gigs that we have coming up. So if you ever want to catch a show, you can definitely check us out on Insta!

HAPPY: Tell us about your experiences as an all-trans band.

BUCKET: That’s funny, because I feel like, at least for me, I can’t really separate my gender identity and Boy and Bucket. Being myself on stage and experimenting with my different energies in such an exposed way was so powerful. I was really able to kinda figure out my own identity as a trans person. And as I figured out my own identity, it would feed back into my presence as a performer. It’s interesting seeing how that kind of plays back and forth. But on the whole, I think it’s really interesting seeing how we’ve all been kind of able to express and explore our gender through music and performance.

BOY: Yeah, absolutely! When we started, I had come out as non-binary not that long before, like, maybe a matter of months or weeks. Boy was this kind of like character that I could put on that was extremely masculine, and I could channel all of my masculine energy into that character. And you know. When you’re being misgendered constantly day to day you don’t feel like you have the right to do what you want, to feel comfortable. I didn’t feel like I could dress the way I wanted and felt right to me. I got to do that onstage as Boy. And yeah, I really agree with Bucket that the experiences of being trans and being Boy and Bucket are so integral because we created a space to explore our identities. 

And then we found that to be one of the most important markers of the band. And so, now kind of as a rule, we make sure to work with and elevate other musicians who are trans-identifying. So that we can be a band that gives more opportunities to other trans and nonbinary and gender non-conforming people who are so talented and rarely given opportunities. It’s become kind of a big ethos of the band.

BUCKET: I think there’s something really special about also being a trans band that makes folk music. It’s a very universal style of music that can be extremely powerful. We love how it allows us to present our trans identities, not just as a fringe experience, but as an extension of the universal human experience. Everyone, cis or trans, has a relationship with their gender. So as a trans band it’s great to express our deepest emotions in a way that makes space for people to explore themselves within the music. 

Our trans listeners can relate to our experiences from a place of shared identity, and any cis listeners can connect through a shared humanity and experiences we all share. It’s such a powerful experience to normalise transness in such a powerful human way.

Credit: Press

HAPPY: What are some other songs that are about grieving and loss?

BUCKET: I really love “Funeral” by Phoebe Bridgers. Although, I have to say that “June” by IDLES destroys me emotionally every time.

BOY: Yeah, absolutely. I think my favourite one is “Bad Wine and Lemon Cake”, by the Jane Austen argument. I love that it’s kind of this exploration of what it feels like to grieve in a very real way. You almost feel like you’re there at the funeral kind of experiencing that. I found that a really validating song when I was moving through grief.

Stream Boy and Bucket’s emotional re-release, In High Places via Spotify below.

Interviewed by Olivia Adams.

Photos supplied.