meta-scriptPoll: Who Do You Think Will Win The Best Rock Performance GRAMMY? | 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show | GRAMMY.com
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Photo: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

Photo: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

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Poll: Who Do You Think Will Win The Best Rock Performance GRAMMY? | 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show

Fiona Apple, Big Thief, Phoebe Bridgers, HAIM, Brittany Howard and Grace Potter are the talented nominees for Best Rock Performance at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards—who do you think will take home the golden gramophone?

GRAMMYs/Mar 2, 2021 - 02:28 am

It's officially March and we're less than two weeks away from the 63rd GRAMMY Awards on March 14! As we approach the Biggest Night In Music, it's a great time to review the nominees list and revisit the songs and albums in the running.

So, for the latest GRAMMY.com poll, we want to know who you think Recording Academy voters will choose for Best Rock Performance. This year's nominees not only had major albums in 2019/2020, they also made history. They are a part of a category in which all nominees are women or in a band fronted by a woman, in the case of Big Thief.

The powerhouse tracks in consideration are "Shameika" by Fiona Apple, "Not" by Big Thief, "Kyoto" by Phoebe Bridgers, "The Steps" by HAIM, "Stay High" by Brittany Howard and "Daylight" by Grace Potter. Vote now in the poll below and read on to hear the tracks.

Make sure to tune in to the 63rd GRAMMY Awards on CBS on Sun., March 14 at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET and the Premiere Ceremony beforehand right here on GRAMMY.com at 12 p.m. PT / 3 p.m. ET to celebrate with all the big winners.

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The Recording Academy Announces "Women In The Mix" Virtual Celebration: Cyndi Lauper, Ingrid Andress, MC Lyte, Sheila E., Tina Tchen And More Confirmed

Katie Gavin of MUNA performs at 2024 LA Pride in the Park at Los Angeles Historical Park on June 08, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.
Katie Gavin of MUNA

Photo: Chelsea Guglielmino

list

5 LGBTQIA+ Record Labels To Check Out: Get Better Records, So Fierce! And Others

During Pride Month and beyond, LGBTQIA+ owned and operated record labels are diligently working to provide queer artists a platform while providing more visibility for their communities.

GRAMMYs/Jun 25, 2024 - 01:28 pm

Music is often a unifier — something that ties us together, allowing us to bond over our shared experiences. This is especially true among LGBTQIA+ communities. Whether you’re hearing MUNA’s pop songs crackle over speakers in a record store or finding ethereal deep-cut Ethel Cain demos on SoundCloud playlists, the queer community find an inevitable connection in the artists they seek out. 

For decades, queer artists have cultivated hidden scenes in rave, techno and dance music. Today, a new generation of LGBTQIA+ artists are shaping contemporary pop, from Reneé Rapp and Towa Bird, to Chappell Roan and RYL0. However, we cannot acknowledge this mainstream resurgence of queer talent without reflecting on the limitations which hold back the wider music industry from becoming more accommodating to LGBTQIA+ artists. 

A 2024 study from Queer Capita in partnership with Billboard revealed that 94 percent of music business participants feel that the industry fails to provide adequate resources or representation for the queer community. However, there's a severe lack of data on the number and scope of queer-specific record labels (those that are LGBTQIA+ owned, run or whose rosters reflect that demographic) — a shocking shortfall considering how queerness shapes the music industry financially. A 2022 "The Power of LGBTQ+ Music" report by Luminate revealed that, queer fans spend an average of 20 percent more on merch and, generally, spend $72 more on music than the general public. 

Read more: 15 LGBTQIA+ Artists Performing At 2024 Summer Festivals

Queer music is profitable and shaping listening trends. Although LGBTQIA+ acts are eagerly supported, — and major labels seem to be taking steps to increase queer representation on a corporate level and on their rosters — the wider industry must continue to support the indies and queer imprint labels that are fighting to survive.

These queer indie record labels are not only highlighting LGBTQIA+ artists and creating accessible, accommodating spaces, but they're often doubling down on the importance of visibility. As an artist or employee, it wouldn’t hurt if your boss (label manager, record executive, press assistant, etc) was queer too, right? This integration and inclusivity is essential when building equitable infrastructure in music.

So, now with Pride Month upon us, there’s been no better time to reflect on the vital resource that LGBTQIA+ labels provide and the ways they encourage our industry to do and be better. These labels are much more than champions of queer talent; they’re signifiers of independent ethos and resilience that keeps music communities thriving.  

From the late-night voguing parties in Shanghai that inspired Medusa Records to the against-the-grain roster of Saddest Factory Records, here are five global LGBTQIA+ record labels showcasing the necessity and irreplaceable talent of queer creatives.

Get Better Records  

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Artists to know: Alice Bag Band, La Dispute, Victoria Park, ZORA

Get Better Records has been around since 2009 and, over its 15 years, has become one of the most notable queer and trans-owned labels. Get Better was formed by Control Top drummer Alex Lichtenauer and their friend Nick King, though the label is now solely run by Lichtenauer. Get Better's roster platforms punk, alternative, experimental and hardcore acts.

Whether you’re looking for the intimate sound of Suzie True, the queer hardcore attitude of Baltimore newcomers No Doubt or want to experience the reverie of how Bacchae are twisting underground DC punk into their own boot-stomping beat, Get Better Records has become a hotspot for innovative acts bringing their distinct style to the music industry. 

A proudly self-described “queer and trans owned” record label with a simple motto — inspiring everyone to practice and play. Through their committed gritty spirit, Get Better Records is summative of what we hope to see for all LGBTQIA+ artists: unconditional acceptance of their experiences and art.  

Saddest Factory Records

Location: Los Angeles, California 

Artists to know: MUNA, Charlie Hickey, Claud, Sloppy Jane 

While technically an imprint of Dead Oceans (the label Phoebe Bridgers is signed to), the arrival of her Saddest Factory Records was a welcomed one. Founded in 2020, Saddest Factory Records emerged off the back of Bridgers’ ongoing success as a cult fan favorite and served as an important reminder — the best creative decisions for LGBTQIA+ artists do, in fact, come from our own community. 

Saddest Factor's roster features a queer-charged collection of artists who deserve more eyes and ears. If you’ve not already here for queer fandom faves Claud, MUNA, or Sloppy Jane, you’ve got some work to do this Pride Month!  

So Fierce

Location: Toronto, Canada 

Artists to know: Oceane Aqua-Black, Gisèle Lullaby, Jay Light 

Founded by musician Velvet Code during the pandemic in 2020, So Fierce wears its pride on its sleeve — by name and artist roster. This inclusive music company pulls together a diverse mix of LGBTQIA+ talent, from drag queens to pop singers, and proves there’s space for all types of queer representation.

With over 20 years of experience producing for big names like Venus, Icesis Couture and Lady Gaga, Velvet Code has cultivated a space that gives LGBTQIA+ artists a platform to belong. Their roster includes names like Icesis Couture, season 2 winner of Canada’s "RuPaul’s Drag Race," and Miami-based singer/songwriter Deity Jane. 

Medusa Records

Location: Shanghai, China

Artists to know: Enema Stone, Michael Cignarale 

Based in Shanghai city, a monthly queer club night transformed from a queer-friendly communal space to something much bigger. These unforgettable eccentric Medusa parties hosted – filled with voguing, queens and pounding psytrance music – became pivotal underground expressions of Shanghai’s LGBTQIA+ nightlife. 

As Medusa Records, founders Michael Cignarale and Sam “Mau Mau" wanted to emulate the ecstasy of queer, unapologetic existence. "The label will channel Medusa’s sweaty midnight moments into a distinctive voice, embodied by musical and multimedia collaborations,” they said in a press release. Through the label, they hoped "to connect the emerging Chinese queer community with a global audience." 

Medusa Records works with local and international DJs, VJs, producers, vocalists, visual artists and others. Their roster features the wonderfully queer, camp and colorful stylings of resident drag performer and musician Enema Stone, as well as DJ Michael Cignarale. 

Outside their label, Medusa continues to give back during their sweaty, glitter-doused parties, where they host guest DJs and performers such as the Carry Nation, Chris Cruse, Octo Octa, Eris Drew, Nick Monaco, Chrissy, Jeffery Sfire, and Boris.

Whether you’re attending an IRL club night or cruising their online presence, Medusa Records know how to keep the beat going – and you’ll feel like you’re caught up in a never-ending party.

Boudicca 

Location: London, United Kingdom  

Artists to know: Samantha Togni, Wallis 

If music labels and party hybrids are your thing, Boudicca may be your next favorite destination.  

Starting out as a queer club night in 2019, Boudicca was founded by producer and DJ Samantha Togni and quickly became a hot spot for queer techno lovers. Now, the London-based party platform and record label is all about hitting high BPMs, championing hedonistic electronica, and giving space to under-the-radar non-binary, womxn and trans musicians. 

Regularly hosting or collaborating in queer club nights and DJ sets, Boudicca’s roster pushes electronica to its limits. The label has released a series of exhilarating crossover compilations: Pure Bones, Dreams That I Can't Quite Remember, and Dark As It Gets, each of which features game-changing acts such as Rotterdam-based duo Animistic Beliefs — who blend global club music, techno and IDM — to Peachlyfe, an incredible "hydra-sonic" non-binary musician. 

Listen To GRAMMY.com's 2024 Pride Month Playlist Of Rising LGBTQIA+ Artists 

Celebrate Pride Month

Sam Beam
Sam Beam of Iron & Wine performing in 2022

Photo: Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images

interview

Iron & Wine Offers 'Light Verse': Sam Beam On His New Album, 2000s-Era Pigeonholing & Turning Up The Whimsy

If your memories of Iron & Wine are of melancholic folk songs for drizzly days, wipe your glasses dry: singer Sam Beam is a richly multidimensional artist. As displayed on his sophisticated, fancy-free new album with killer collaborators, 'Light Verse.'

GRAMMYs/Apr 29, 2024 - 02:15 pm

Upon first impression, Sam Beam of Iron & Wine’s got a wildly endearing trait: he laughs even when something’s not explicitly funny. Even through Zoom, the man most of us know for aching, desolate folk songs will give you a tremendous lift.

"I like to joke around and stuff with my friends," the beardy and serene Beam tells GRAMMY.com — those friends including fellow mellow 2000s favorites, like Andrew Bird and Calexico. "Honestly, it's harder to be serious than it is to joke around most of my friends."

That’s partly what spurred the four-time GRAMMY nominee to make the shimmering, whimsical Light Verse. While it follows 2023’s soundtrack to the documentary Who Can See Forever, and 2019’s Calexico collaboration Years to Born, in relatively short order, it’s still the first proper Iron & Wine album since 2017’s Beast Epic.

Getting to the space to write waggish songs like "Anyone’s Game" ("First they kiss their lucky dice and then they dig themselves a grave/ They do this until it’s killing them to try") wasn’t easy. In conversation, Beam mentions "the pandemic that put me on my ear." In press materials, he expanded on exactly how it did.

"While so many artists, fortunately, found inspiration in the chaos, I was the opposite and withered with the constant background noise of uncertainty and fear," Beam wrote. "The last thing I wanted to write about was COVID."

"And yet, every moment I sat with my pen," he continued, "it lingered around the edges and wouldn’t leave. I struggled to focus until I gave up, and this lasted for over two years."

Thankfully, a Memphis session with singer/songwriter Lori McKenna relaxed his "creative muscles" and a series of tours and collaborations loosened him up even more. Beam assembled a dream team of musicians in Laurel Canyon, and the rest is history — Light Verse is a sumptuous delight.

Read on for how it came to be — and much more.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Light Verse is the first non-collaborative Iron & Wine album since 2017. I imagine there’s sometimes pressure to just put music out for the sake of having it out. Whatever the case, I appreciate that you put time and thought into it.

Yeah, I mean, honestly, I just like making records with other people. You can only smell your own breath so long. I enjoy putting out records, but I feel like I grow more as a musician and person by working with other people. So, I’ll probably be doing more and more of that.

I don’t feel a whole lot of pressure, one way or the other. Maybe I’m just deaf and those things are screaming at me. But I just don’t listen.

What pressures have you faced in the music industry?

Oh, there are certainly lots of pressures. One is, I should probably be on top of my social media game, but I just can't seem to engage with it. I don’t know. That's how people make their entire careers these days, but I can't find a way to sustain it.

I can't think of a way that I could, because I definitely go through days without picking up my phone at all, so I just can't. I think if I could figure out a way to make it fun, I would do it.

What do you do with the time most people spend on their screens?

Playing guitar, or I do a lot of painting. I’m not saying I never pick up my phone, but I don't think about what could I share about my breakfast to the world, I just don't think about it. I'm private.

What was the germ of the concept behind Light Verse?

I don't really usually go in with a specific idea in mind. I just like to stack the deck with people that I like to play with, or that I like what they do. And so just see what happens, throwing a bunch of ingredients that you like individually, and just seeing if it makes a soup that you like.

My idea was to go in with these folks from L.A. that I had met along the way. David Garza, I'd been wanting to play with for a long time. I'd met Tyler Chester, who plays keys, when he was playing with Andrew Bird. Griffin Goldsmith plays with Dawes.

The songs were all developed. They were a bit lighter than some of the fare that I've put out before, far as just silly rhymes. They're a little more off the cuff.

I'm kinda mining the territory of the early '70s, where the folk writers were playing with jazz musicians. It just becomes a little more orchestra, or however you want to describe it. Not quite so straightforward.

But I had these off-kilter tunes and I got an off-kilter, talented band from LA, and I was just going to see what happened. And this is what happened.

Naturally, my mind goes to Joni Mitchell playing with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. What are your touchstones?

Well, those Van records — Astral Weeks and stuff. All the stuff in that time when people started playing cluster-y chords. I love that music. It’s so expressive. Ron Carter playing with Roberta Flack, even. They’re gospel-blues sorts of tunes, but they’re also folky [in their] structures and melodies.

Are you a super technically proficient guitarist? Can you play those crazy chords?

[Grins] I wouldn’t be able to tell you what chord it was, but I might be able to get my hand in the shape. I don’t read music. I just learned to play by ear, but I like to play guitar a lot, so I end up stumbling on most stuff.

I also fool around with a lot of open tunings, so you end up with some cluster-y, bizarre stuff with that, for sure.

Even just paying attention to Brian Wilson — he’s not a guitarist, but I feel like his work can teach guitarists a lot about voice leading and stuff.

Definitely. A lot of those jazz voices have been absorbed by pop music. You can hear Bill Evans all over pop music, especially in the ‘90s.

**Can you take readers through the orchestration on Light Verse? It’s so shimmery and rich and unconventional.**

Thanks. Yeah, we were borrowing from some of those jazz ensembles we’re talking about, and also Brazilian music.

Honestly, that Gal Costa tune, "Baby" — it’s the most famous one — it’s my spirit animal for this record. Just between the strings and the way the guitars and rhythm section work — the sparse way it comes and goes.

We approached it fairly intuitively. But I do feel like Paul Cartwright, who did a lot of those strings and charts and stuff, played a huge role as far as the identity of this record. Outside of the lyrics and the forms and stuff, just the way that he interpreted in this really expressive way. His charts and stuff were really great — and a lot of it's him playing, stacking stuff on his own. He's really, really talented.

He also grew up in Bakersfield, and since the violin is strung the way a mandolin is, he rocks a mean mandolin. He had all these different bass mandocellos and all this stuff. He was just, "What are we working on now? Hand me that thing," and just did all kinds of coloring. It's great.

Can you talk about approaching your work with more whimsy and color?

I feel like for some reason, for the longest time when I sat down to write a song, it was a time to say what I mean. And so when it came time to write a song, it ended up being really somber. Some of it is acidic, but somber for the most part.

Whereas for this one, I was just looking for more balance. Maybe I'm just too old to be impressed by that stuff, so I like balance — something that can resonate on something that people recognize but also is fun at the same time. 

You can embrace both things at one time, that life is hard and also silly. And so that was the MO going into this one, and a lot of the songs that I chose to record were because they had both of those things going on at one time.

You’re a three-dimensional artist, but marketing can flatten musicians. Growing up with Iron & Wine, it tended to be packaged as "chill music for rainy days" or some such. Primary colors.

We all do that. We always try to define something. You know what I mean? You want to understand it, and by understanding, control it and define it.

All artists deal with that, for sure. It's frustrating when you want to be recognized. You want them to pay attention to other things, but it's also that we just want to be appreciated. Artists want to be appreciated for every little gesture we make, and it's not realistic. We do our best.

I feel like if you work hard, hopefully the stars will align and people will appreciate what you do.

What do you remember about the atmosphere of the music industry, back when big songs I don’t need to name came out?

You mean the vampire song and stuff?

Yeah.

It's definitely a lot different. The internet upended everything. I squeezed and slipped in the door just as the door was closing on the closed circuit of records and stuff.

It was more of a monoculture, where everyone was having the same conversation about the same groups of musicians. Now, [you can have] the entire history of recorded music at any moment of the day. It's hard to have the same conversation about things. That's been a big difference.

When you hang out and collaborate with friends like Andrew Bird, is there ever a sense of "We survived, we’re the class of 2000-whatever"?

Well, for one thing, it's hard to realize that you've been making music that long. Most bands don't even last that long. It's insane.

But it's also, I just feel really blessed. Maybe it's because I never studied music — my career feels like a fluke. I still feel blessed that people are still interested, blessed that I'm able to do this. I never thought it was in the cards, and so I just feel really lucky.

Sam Beam

Sam Beam of Iron & Wine. Photo: Kim Black

I feel like one route to longevity is self-containment. Namely, self-production, which you’ve done forever. Where are you at with that journey?

I like autonomy. I see the musicians who are also producers in their own right, so usually I have a room full of producers and I don't end up using them. We all think everyone should get a producer credit, but I take it because I'm selfish.

But I like having the autonomy. That's why I still release on an independent record label. I like steering the boat. We're all steering around the same fog, but I don't like to have someone else to bitch about. I just bitch about myself.

It releases you from those moments where it’s like, "Sam, sales are down. We’ve got to get you in with Danger Mouse," or something.

Well, hell, man, I’d do that. But I know what you mean. The idea committees I imagine for most artists are really brutal.

Trend-wise, there’s pressure to chase trains that can lead to all music sounding the same.

The things that you're offered, really teach you a lot about what you're in it for. Or it's also after a while, your reasons for doing it change. I don't fault people for reaching for the ring, but I also feel like I was lucky in the sense that I was just doing it for fun.

And all the songs that have been popular were a surprise to me. The songs of mine that were embraced in a way were a surprise. I felt like there were others that might've been more popular or something, or I would've chosen to promote.

So, the lesson I learned is you have no idea. Just put your best into each one and see what happens because you really can't predict what's going to happen. In that sense, if you're trying to be popular or record something that sticks, you're trying to emulate something that's proven to be popular. And for me, that seemed like a recipe for disaster from the beginning.

I feel like if you wrote a really great song in the ‘90s or 2000s, it’d get heard. Not so much in 2024. You need to take it to market and bother everybody about it.

Yeah, it's a tricky thing. The internet has been wonderful as far as we have access to all kinds of stuff that we didn't have access to before, but it just also disperses all the attention. It's hard. There's a lot of great music happening right now — but like you say, you might never know.

What are you checking out lately that you’re really connecting with? Past or present.

I heard a great tune the other day by this woman named Barbara Keith, "Detroit or Buffalo," from 1972. Obviously not contemporary, but it was incredible. I'd never heard it before. I'm checking out stuff, trying to keep up. It's hard.

What do you like that would make people say, "Sam Beam likes that?"

Oh, in my case, it’s all over the place. I’m not real proprietorial with music. It’s something to experience. I’m not so much into dance music, but I like a lot of really intense electronic music. That might be surprising. Who knows?

Everything’s out there for the taking. It’s the universal buffet.

I think everyone can recognize a musical omnivore, and then not be surprised.

Anything else about Light Verse you’re raring to talk about?

We did get to sing with Fiona Apple, which was really a treat. That was unexpected, but a very welcome experience. And she turned a regular song into an incredible duet, which was really a surprise and a blessing.

What was it like working with Fiona?

I never actually met her. Because of the way technology works these days, she was in a whole other state and sent us the track. But a lot of the people that were playing and a lot of people in the room; we share band members like Sebastian Steinberg, and David Garza plays with her a lot too.

One of the reasons that I recorded there in LA with Dave Way is because they had made their last few records with Dave, and Sebastian had been in my ear about, "You got to go record Dave." And it turns out he was right. It was great. She had a lot of friends in the room, so it wasn't too hard to convince her.

Beirut's Zach Condon Lost His Sense Of Self — Then Found It Within A Church Organ

Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

video

GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

Looking for more GRAMMYs news? The 2024 GRAMMY nominations are here!

He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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boygenius
(L-R) Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus of boygenius

Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images

interview

The Sound Of Collision: Boygenius Discuss Creating 'The Rest,' Their Deepening Friendship & Identities

Boygenius have experienced a year of exponential growth, culminating with a new EP. In a candid and wide-ranging interview, Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus discuss five years of music-making and 'the rest,' which drops Oct.13.

GRAMMYs/Oct 9, 2023 - 01:14 pm

Quite a lot has changed for boygenius in the months following the release of their debut album, the record, in March.

The indie supergroup of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus initially joined forces in 2018, offering a self-titled EP and North American tour. Despite positive reception for both, the trio were largely quiet for several years and shifted to their solo projects.

So when their reunion and debut full-length was confirmed in January 2023, much attention was given to boygenius' trajectory. Once the record was released, the group seemingly went skyward.

Fast forward to the present and the band is on the third leg of their tour in support of the record, recently performing for 25,000 people at Gunnersbury Park in London and selling out Madison Square Garden. Continuing their exponential growth, boygenius recently announced the rest, a four-track EP set for release Oct.13.

Sonically, the rest is a revisitation. ​​"We veered away from our folkier roots on the record in a way that was fun to come back to for the EP," says Bridgers sitting alongside Baker and Dacus on a Zoom call from the Westville Music Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut.

Even deeper rooted than their love of folk music, and what has remained consistent throughout  the five years after their initial connection, is the trio's shared dynamic. 

"We were never not a band," says Bridgers. Yet, "it doesn’t just mean that we’re all great musicians and therefore our talent gets exponentially multiplied," Baker says of their "supergroup" designation. "It’s the dedication to how we mediate music between the three of us as a conduit. That’s the important part." 

Their impact and connection extends beyond music as well. The trio has moved into other forms of media, producing a music film directed by Academy Award nominee Kristen Stewart, and have become icons for the queer community after performing in drag in Nashville to protest the city’s anti-drag legislation (among other pro-queer activities).

Ahead of their new EP, boygenius candidly dive into their songwriting process, relationships with queerness, and using music as a conduit of their connection. 

This interview has been edited for clarity.

When you think back on who you were professionally and personally when you wrote the first EP, what is it like to bring those songs into the present on much bigger stages?

Phoebe Bridgers: I think about it more from a fan perspective now. I’m like The kids are singing it to me. They get excited when we play older songs 'cause they feel a part of it.

Julien Baker: It's sweet imagining them having anticipated it. Having been at that [older] show or missed that show. We’ve aged with them and they can trace our parallel aging. 

Bridgers: When we play "Me & My Dog," I was singing about myself and from my perspective. Now I’m so far away from it that it’s like the fans are singing it. I feel that way about "Souvenir." This is one for the fans to sing to us.

How did you view yourselves at the start of the group in 2018, and how does that compare to you are today?

Lucy Dacus: I’m a bigger fan of who I am now than who I was, but you gotta root for yourself, so I’m retroactively rooting for who I was.

Baker: I have more grace for my past self. I don’t know if I would have the wisdom to admire current me… think overall I’d be stoked. Some of the stuff [I've done] would surprise me.

Bridgers: We talk sometimes about how there’s a certain hometown mentality that can be poisonous. Like your friend whose band never took off says, “You guys f—ing sold out,” and we’re like “Well you didn’t get a chance to my friend. 'Sold out' means people buy the album.”

Baker:  In 2018 when I met you guys I was straight edge and vegan and now it’s nice to have a lobster roll when you’re in New England. I’m a lot more lax but more mature and I don’t know if I would have had the foresight as such a young kid.  I was so neurotic then and really principled in a misguided way, but I think I have to have retroactive grace for that person more than I need to admire.

You’ve mentioned that much of the writing for boygenius takes place separately, but the songs are finished together. How did writing the record compare to the first EP?

Bridgers: The main way is that we talk about each other now. We were just writing, trying to help each other with songs that already existed or little ideas that already existed. Now we have so much context for each other that the record starts eating its own tail and becomes about making the record, which is cool.

Baker: There’s an ease of communication that maybe wasn’t quite available when we were first working together, where each of us brought a verse that then got gently edited. 

A lot of the record is an exquisite corpse of working out line by line with each other. Then there are huge swaths that are just s— [Phoebe] wrote or just s— that Lucy wrote, but it’s nice to feel an entitlement to something that’s being created corporately instead of pieced [together].

Dacus: It’s never been difficult [communicating], so it’s not like it even had the chance to get easier. We do a lot of work to avoid difficulty. We do group therapy together and try to foresee what our pitfalls could be and avoid them. 

Not like it’s all easy. We’ll encounter really difficult math problems — [that’s] what it feels like in the studio where none of us will get it and we’ll be frustrated but it’s not at each other.

The final lines of "Powers" are "The force of our impact, the fission/The hum of our contact/The sound of our collision." From my perspective, the sound of your collision as human beings includes the music you’ve made together, but also the way you’ve presented yourselves to the public, for example, in standing up for causes you believe in, and then there is the sound no one else hears within your dynamic as a band. With all this mind, how would you describe "the sound of your collision?"

Baker: Those are both semi-stolen lyrics. I read this book Cruising Utopia by José Esteban Muñoz and he talks about the idea of the lived experience being its own work of art, and then that art needing a witness to be savored and appreciated. 

He talks about the hum of our contact. It’s evocative of all the things that aren’t explicitly stated that take place. All the communication that’s extra-lingual. That is witnessed only in time and action and accrued over years and years. It’s so incremental that you can barely observe it as it's happening. Then you look back and realize that you’ve spent your life with people that have become like your family and they’ve been the driving force in what motivates you. It’s small and daily and powerful. 

So the album and all the other things you guys have done together are all the particles accruing?

Dacus: It’s just a gradual deepening all the time. I think that the closeness has been a pleasant surprise for all of us. Now that we’ve discovered it, we want to interact with it and protect it however we can. Originally it was just a fun lightweight idea. Now it’s my whole life.

Baker: There’s the real face-to-face friendship that we have, but we’ve always been making music together. It feels very much like music is the water that you’re swimming in. Music is the language that you’re speaking.

**The album artwork on the rest is in many ways the counterpart to the record, which feels very hopeful with the three of you looking towards the horizon like a team of superheroes.  Whereas on the EP cover, the surroundings are dark, your faces are darkened, and you’re huddled together for support. Through that lens, how would you compare the two releases?**

Dacus: That photo was taken during the same shoot for the original album art. We always liked the image, but when we chose these four songs to put out together, they all have this spacey, eerie quality about them. I think the wind being in our hair, the natural elements messing us up, it’s a little more unsettling and I feel like these songs — I don’t think they lack optimism, but they’re a little more focused on fear and unsteadiness. 

Bridgers: We had wanted it to be a different time of day in the photo. The back of the EP is dusk at the beach. Not a very hidden meaning in that.

You three have been celebrated very much of late for standing up for the queer community, trans community, and other marginalized communities, but you’ve also stated that doing so doesn’t necessarily make you “role models.” How has the time you’ve spent together as a band affected your relationship with your own queerness?

Dacus:  I’m definitely gayer because of these guys. [All laugh.]

Baker: That’s true! And I’m straighter somehow.

Bridgers: I was thinking that it makes me feel straighter to be around a bunch of gay people all the time. Like when I’m with only straight people.

Baker: You’re the gayest one.

Bridgers: I’m so gay and when I’m around gay people I’m like, damn. But that doesn’t hold true all the time.

Dacus: A serious answer would be that my favorite thing about queerness is how undefined it actually is. Having less allegiance to who I was, being willing to betray my idea of myself in service of what actually feels best and is most honest to the moment at hand — that’s a skill that I think I’ve been getting better at through my life. Not in small part to the people who love me and will accept me at any point of understanding myself, and these guys are included in that.

Baker: It’s like finding a new vernacular around queerness. It’s how you carry out the outfit, or it's how you carry out dancing, or it’s how you carry out some sort of body language that determines whether it’s queer. Not what the action is. It’s how you employ, and I think being around people who see the core static parts of myself …makes me feel more secure to play with the mutable parts of my identity.

Referring to what Julien said earlier about the lived experience being a work of art that needs a witness, how have you served as witnesses for each other? How has your lived experience with queerness influenced your art?

Baker: Queerness is inherently creative. Queerness exists in opposition to a standard. Not to replace it with a superior thing, but to dismantle a dominant prevailing view of how things should be just because that’s how they’re traditionally understood. 

Queerness involves creating a different future for yourself. Imagining yourself towards a different embodiment of you. An embodiment of you that isn’t naturally going to be fomented any other place than by these guys or by your community or by the community you construct.

Dacus: Julien has a banjo that she drew on and has “queer joy” on it, and I think that queerness and joy are inextricable themes. Why be queer if you aren’t trying your very best to access more joy in your life or more authenticity? 

So it’s actually amazing to realize I’m living in it so thoroughly now that I don’t actively think about it as much because it’s a part of everything that I do to the point where I don’t even see it sometimes, which is such a privilege.

In listening to “Without you, without them” I get the impression you guys are telling each other to share everything, so I ask a version of the question that’s posed in the final line of the song: after years of growing together, who would you guys be without each other?

Bridgers: Worse

Dacus: Impossible to know.

[All laugh]

Dacus: The idea of it from here feels really lonely. But it’s also weird to think [about] who would I have cared deeply about or who haven’t I met yet that [would be] as important as these people. Life is so various, and no matter how much you prepare for it it always will catch you off guard in sometimes the best ways.

Bridgers: I think if we had individually gotten more famous and then made friends even with each other from this point of view, it would be great, but I feel lucky that we met when we did. We were all on the same plain with a dream of selling out a 2000-capacity venue. Laying awake at night thinking about it as the end goal. 

So it's weird that I met two people with as close to the same life experience as possible and then it changed into another version of as close as possible. We all come from an indie space. We all are queer. It would be s—y to have nobody that was in my shoes around me.

Baker: Y’all have been additional rudders in my trajectory since we met, and I have no way of knowing — nor do I care to know — how my character would differ if I didn’t have y’all as a whetstone of sharpening my own wit and honesty and musical practice.

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