Los Angeles-native indie-pop duo TeamMate has recently released its self-titled debut album. TeamMate spoke with ETV about their musical inspirations, the making of their new album, and advice for other two-member groups out there. Check out the anthemic single “Damage” here:
The new synth-pop album showcases the overall sound of Scott Simons (keyboards, vocals) and Dani Buncher (drums, vocals) working together in a musical partnership long in the making. The album is filled with larger than life choruses and pure pop sensibilities emerging from the member’s varied musical influences they’ve had growing up. Dani, who grew up listening to Top 40 radio and MTV, cited early musical influences that included George Michael, Madonna, Peter Gabriel, Tears For Fears, Neneh Cherry, and Cathy Dennis.
“When my brother and I were little, and were in the car with my mom, we always listed to the local oldies station,” Dani said. “The Supremes, The Shirelles, and The Temptations were in heavy rotation and have played just as big of a role in my musical taste.”
Scott grew up with music handed down from his parents, such as The Beatles, Billy Joel, Simon & Garfunkel and musical theatre soundtracks.
“I went through a late 80s rap phase where I was obsessed with Young MC,” Scott said. “When I got into college, the first Ben Folds 5 album changed my life. I also got heavily into some great songwriters like Elvis Costello and Aimee Mann and rediscovered a lot of music from my childhood like The Cars, The Police, Blondie, and early U2.”
With an assortment of musical knowledge to take inspiration from, Scott and Dani keep in mind how the instruments will shape the overall sound they make when they write songs. The opening track “Nothing’s Ever Over” was important in helping them find this album’s direction and tone, allowing them to realize that even though they operate as a duo, there is only one “voice” as TeamMate.
“I think we were trying to grow our sound from where it was,” Scott said. “We started out writing a little more one sided from my perspective on our relationship but ‘Nothing’s Ever Over’ was very much about and from both of us. Once we committed to singing that song in unison together, rather than have a lead singer, that helped us find a sound we liked for the rest of the record. Also, the ‘size’ of the synth sounds and drums really helped us make a bit of a template moving forward.”
The grand-pop synth sound can definitely be found in the lead single “Damage.” Scott said the song was written about the time they realized if they could put past relationship issues behind them and focus on being friends and bandmates, they would be able to move onto something special. One of special things coming from their musical relation was the completion of the LP and they are both proud of being able to share it to the world.
“Releasing music is the hardest and scariest part because you open yourself up to feedback and criticism,” Scott said. “But we feel so confident that we made an album we’re proud of full of songs we love and that alone is a success to me.”
“I agree with Scott,” Dani said. “Finishing an album that you are 100 percent proud of and excited about can sometimes be the hardest part. Sometimes when we play the new songs live, it takes me right back to the studio when we were first working out our ideas together. It’s a great feeling to be on stage, playing those songs, and recognizing the progress process of songwriting and recording.”
Now with their first studio album complete, TeamMate is looking to hopefully go out on tour and do some shows, an experience they find fun. The journey they have been through – as a romantic relationship leading into a musical one – may have been mostly personal, but the journey they went through could help others out there. They offered advice for up-and-coming two-member bands for getting along.
“Treat it like any other relationship,” Dani said. “Communicate, respect each other, and learn how to predict each other’s mood swings.”
“Or just date for ten years and break up,” Scott said. “If you can survive that then you’re ready for the music industry.”