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After a Breakup and a Coming-Out, TeamMate's Musicians Find Harmony

After a Breakup and a Coming-Out, TeamMate's Musicians Find Harmony

“There’s gotta be a sequel to us,” goes a lyric in the title track of indie-pop duo TeamMate’s new EP, and indeed there is — and a very unusual one at that.

The members of TeamMate, drummer Dani Buncher and singer-songwriter-keyboardist Scott Simons, were a couple for 10 years. Then four years ago, Buncher came out as a lesbian, and their relationship ended. But they realized they still needed each other, and so they have forged a new type of relationship, as close friends making music together.

“It wasn’t easy,” Simons says of the breakup. “It was definitely heartbreaking, and it took a long time to figure out what we were going to do. But I figured, I need this person in my life.”

“After all the tears,” Buncher says, “you look at the relationship and the dynamic, the history of friendship and partnership. I think we’re able to just kind of focus on that.”

Their musical partnership has resulted in the four-track EP Sequel; besides the title tune, it includes “Girls With Boys’ Names,” “L.A. Winter,” and a cover of Madonna’s “Causing a Commotion.” They also have recorded some individual tracks, such as their recently released marriage equality anthem “Love Is Love.” A full-length album of their energetic but thoughtful pop songs is in the works for Rostrum Records, and the two are on tour this summer with singer-songwriter Skylar Grey.

Buncher and Simons met at West Virginia University in Morgantown, where she was a student and member of the marching band and he was an alum fronting a touring power-pop group based in the city. Given their common interest in music and the fact that both are Jewish, they moved in the same circles and frequently encountered each other at parties. Friends who didn’t know the two were already acquainted would introduce them over and over, and they generally humored these friends by acting as if they were meeting for the first time.

They soon started dating, and they maintained a long-distance relationship after Buncher graduated from college. Simons embarked on a solo career, and Buncher worked for major record labels in New York City, handling artists and repertoire. She also often advised Simons on his musical choices — for instance, encouraging him to record a cover of Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” Eventually she returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, where she started her own band and shared a home with Simons.

While there was pain involved in their breakup, they note that Buncher was able to come out without facing homophobia from Simons, friends, or family members. “Overall, there was definitely some processing to do, but it was never really much of an issue,” she says.
Simons adds, “My mom thought I was the gay one, I think.”

They didn’t make music together while dating, but now, as TeamMate, they have found it an enjoyable pursuit. They also see each other more often than they did when they were a couple, even though West Virginia native Simons has relocated to Los Angeles — Buncher helped him move cross-country, which was a good way for them to reconnect —and she has remained in Pittsburgh, as they get together so frequently to record and perform.

“We’re just really enjoying each other’s company again,” Simons says. “We’re enjoying making the music and telling the story and being around each other. It might be the best form of therapy ever.”

Watch the video for “Love Is Love” below, and find out more about TeamMate here.

 

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Trudy Ring