Celebrating the Second Phase: A Conversation with TeamMate

TeamMate © Shawn Corrigan
TeamMate © Shawn Corrigan

Many relationships and friendships fall apart over time; people grow apart, feelings fade, and sometimes love is simply not enough. Years of heart-warming memories feel more like gut-wrenching, lapsed moments in time, followed by dismay and resentment. But for Scott Simons and Dani Buncher of TeamMate, the end of their romance was ironically a disguised portal that led and guided them to a second phase of the relationship – the beginning of a beautiful music collaboration.

Listen: “Damage” – TeamMate

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After dating for a whole decade, Dani ended the relationship when she came out to Scott. However, being true to oneself did not mean that the underlying connection and friendship they shared would no longer cease to exist. Instead, and as a part of the healing process, they formed TeamMate; an upbeat synth-pop explosion consisting of catchy melodies (that’ll stay in your head for days), powerfully honest lyrics, and clean, crisp-as-air, drumming.

With years of songwriting, a couple of EPs, and numerous singles under their belt, TeamMate’s debut self-titled album is set to be released February 16th via Rostrum Records. In anticipation of the new album, Atwood Magazine had the honor of interviewing the eccentric duo; witnessing first-hand their professional poise, playful banter, and realist, but inspirational outlook on life.

TeamMate © J. Rosenstein Rosenstein
TeamMate © J. Rosenstein


Atwood Magazine: Scott and Dani, how long after your breakup did you have the epiphany that inspired you to collaborate musically and start a band?

Dani: We started creating music probably a couple of years after the breakup. I think we realized that we should do a band thing a few years after.

Scott: Yeah, I think it was a couple of years after we started playing songs together. But we didn’t really write and try to think of it as a band project until a couple years after that, so it was probably four years.

You were companions for a decade; do you share the same music influences? Are there any differences in your tastes?

Dani: I think the differences were probably more apparent early on in our relationship. But then when you’re with somebody for so long, your musical tastes kind of grow on each other and you expand your realm of music tastes and interests. There are definitely slight differences but for the most part we pretty much share the same sort-of tastes, right Scott? What would you say?

Scott: Yeah I think when we were a couple, Dani definitely made my musical taste cooler by making me mix tapes. We both like a lot of the same things, which makes creating music easier in a lot of ways. Right now, there are very few times that Dani will play a song that I’m not feeling, but we’re pretty much on the same page.

TeamMate’s music is a breath of fresh air laced with happy synths and pleasantly uplifting drum beats; how do your life experiences coincide with the music you create?

Scott: We’ve been through some really rough times with our breakup and we survived it and came out as friends and eventually band mates. That gives us this sense of optimism. We write a lot from personal experience and we’re really fortunate to be in each other’s lives still. So I think that what forms us musically and lyrically, we try to make it reflect that. I mean it’s not all happy, hunky-dory kind of stuff, sometimes we say some darker things, but the overall theme is positive.

We’re big fans of the song “LA Winter” off of The Sequel EP and apparently so is Wiz Khalifa, as he sampled the song on his album “O.N.I.F.C.”- what do you think about that?

Dani: We’re big Wiz fans, so that was a pretty cool opportunity to have him sample it and put on his record. That’s a very old song for us and it definitely exposed us at an early stage with an audience that maybe we wouldn’t have reached before; just because also we were a new band at the time. So that’s been a really cool experience. Yeah, that’s been really rad.

TeamMate © J. Rosenstein
TeamMate © J. Rosenstein

Recently (back in December) you opened for Empire of the Sun at the Novo. The show was sold out, what was that like?

Scott: Man that was a crazy experience. ALT 98.7 asked us to come and support them as a part of their December 2 Remember concert series. At first we thought that we would be 1 of 20 bands, you know, it’s going to be a big holiday concert or something. But then as we got closer to the date, we realized it was just us and them and then it was like, “Oh, this is going to be awesome” and then it exceeded our expectations and they were just awesome; the crowd was amazing, we got in front of a lot of good people. We got to play on such a big stage with full sound and full lights. I mean, we do that often but for that crowd and that band it was really special.

Going back to your music tastes, if you could tour with any band in the whole world, whether they are still together or not, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Dani: I would be a backup singer for Paula Abdul. Just kidding. As a band, I don’t know. What do you think Scott? I know who you would say.

Scott: No, you don’t know who I would say. Who do you think I’d say? I know who you’d say!

Dani: Who would I say?

Scott: Teagan and Sara.

Dani: Or George Michael…

Scott: Or George Michael.

Dani: I’m a big George Michael fan.

We love your first feel-good, electro-pop single “Damage” off of your upcoming debut self-titled album, but what influenced you to write this song? What would you say it’s really about?

Scott: This song happened at a very pivotal point for our friendship. We had been broken up and we were starting the band, and we just kind of felt like if we could figure out a way forward as not a couple, but as a band, and even as friends we could do something really special. And I think that’s the idea of the song. Maybe your damage is going to be a bit darker, but we’re almost celebrating our second phase of the relationship.

TeamMate © J. Rosenstein
TeamMate © J. Rosenstein

How will the new album (being released February 16th) be similar or different from your previous work?

Dani: This is our first full-length. So that’s new for us. We’re excited to have the full-length out there. We’re at radio now with “Damage” and I don’t think we went to radio with the last EP at all.

Scott: The biggest thing is as we’ve developed as a band, as we’ve matured as a band, the album more than our previous stuff is two equal parts. Not a keyboard player and a drummer behind it, or a female singer and a keyboard player behind it; it’s two equal parts.  We’re both singing everything together. We both co-wrote everything on the record together. And we really just wanted to put together a body of work that showcases music that we like. I think we just try to impress ourselves, play stuff we that we like, and hopefully that translates to other people in the years too.

What’s next in TeamMate’s future?

Scott: We have the album out February 16th and we play the Troubadour on the 21st with another band called Frenship from LA, who are great. Then we have a video for “Damage” coming out with more singles from the record being released. And we think we have something special coming out on Record Store Day (April 22nd). We’re also looking for touring opportunities after the album is out.

If you could describe your band’s overall message with just one word, what would it be?

Scott: Oh man, one word? Can we have two? Just kidding. We come from a place like: Listen we know things don’t always work out, they’re not always awesome, but we’re hopeful for the future, and we’re grateful for what has happened. It’s not just blind optimism that everything is going to be swell if you want it bad enough.

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