BB Sinclair, an all-girl, all-gay twee dream group… They demonstrate their love and chemistry as a band in every dreamy note they play and every heartfelt lyric they write. We sat down with them and discovered their take on DIY, the queer music scene, and their sound.
You like to make up your own words?
Fernly: Yeah I like to say things incorrectly, like doing the prepositions wrong is really funny to me. I’ll do it all day and no one is really laughing except me. Like calling fingers “fungers.”
How did you all form as a band?
F: Once upon a time, I listened to a lot of Baths and found out what sampler he liked to use. I bought it and thought it would be fun to have a band that took less effort to bring together, so I started playing synth pop by myself. But it was very nerve wracking playing alone. Then I moved away for a year and wasn’t playing as much music. When I moved back, I felt I should start playing again but wasn’t sure what the direction was. I started working at this cafe with Jillian and saw her play bass in a cool band at a cool venue.
Lauren: Also, fun little fact: the first time I ever saw [Fernly] play was when my car got hit on the boardwalk. I helped a friend move in across the street, then we went to SubRosa to see Jillian’s band play. It was the first time I’d seen her, and she was playing solo with a laptop and I remember awkwardly approaching her afterwards. When I walked back to my car it’d been hit and someone left a note. The bumper was totaled.
F: The price you gotta pay.
L: Then there was the house show we played together where you were doing the Heart of Glass cover.
F: Yeah we were doing an acoustic set.
L: The computer wasn’t working out. You were talking about [Heart of Glass] and I said I could totally play that! Lucas got up to play drums and you were like “Lucas sit down, let Lauren play!” Then I went up and played with y’all and that’s when it all started.
So in general, you’d say the coming together of the band was pretty organic?
F: Yeah, Melody was my teacher’s boyfriend’s cousin. I figured, ah well, she produces electronic music online, so she can probably play synth.
B: So how would you describe your music?
F: Dream gay. That’s what it says on the poster.
B: I’ve also heard gay surf.
L: We’re not really that surfy. I tried avoiding a surf drum beat for the longest time, up until we wrote Bitch Grand Prix where it fit perfectly. But I try to avoid surf drums.
B: Is there any particular reason for that?
L: I feel like there’s a lot of surf bands in Santa Cruz so just trying to do something different.
F: Maybe like twee dream gay? All our songs are short so maybe not dream pop.
B: How do you feel like the gay in “dream gay” applies?
F: I feel like I use the word gay flippantly. I definitely use it as a blanket term for everything under the queer and trans umbrella. Everyone’s fighting for marriage equality and calling it gay marriage. So that’s for me too, I get to call everything gay. It’s a pretty gay band.
Jillian: We’re all very gay.
Do you feel like the music culture you’re in and that bands like Practicing Sincerity and Gal Pal inhabit intersects with queer culture in Santa Cruz a lot?
F: Yeah, I mean I feel like there’s like weird bubbles in Santa Cruz. It’s not necessarily a big queer community but there’ll randomly be like ten people you’ve never seen before that all are queer.
J: I feel like there’s a very strong queer community in Santa Cruz. Coming from the Bay Area it feels like a very special community here.
I know that you mainly play music for fun, but do you feel like playing it also helps to keep these open artistic cultures alive and give them a platform and a scene to gather at?
F: That’s definitely the effort. Also a lot of the songs are therapy for me. I tend to write about my feelings. But if I’m bored of playing straight up sad music I want to play something that’s fun for the audience to listen to but also emotive.
L: I like to play things fast, so after hearing you and Jillian play, I definitely sped things up a lot.
Do you have a principal songwriter?
Fernly: So far I’ve written all the songs.
What’s that process like?
F: I’ll write the lyrics and melodies but it’ll definitely pick up more intricacies as we’re playing together. Never sounds the same as just in my garage with an acoustic guitar. Most of the songs were things I wrote when I was lonely living in Reykjavik. I was recording demos on my computer microphones and sending them to everyone.
L: I’ve had total artistic control with the drums.
F: Yeah cause I don’t know how to play the drums. So I’ll be like “Lauren, this is the song, please put some drums on it.”
L: I remember hearing ‘Underground’, when you’d play it by yourself, and thinking “Oh, there could be such cool drums in this.” Like crazy electronic stuff.
F: Which is funny, cause I felt that song was just a kick and snare, so it was crazy to have a build, and like anything going on in the drums.
So what brought you back to Santa Cruz from Reykjavik? Was it the loneliness or the feeling that the people you wanted to collaborate with were in Santa Cruz?
F: It was that, but also the music scene is so small in Reykjavik. Like a couple venues. All the local bands that are fucking famous in the US and Europe would only play a couple shows a year in Iceland that no one really went to. There’s turnout but lots of pressure. If you play a show you need to make an impact and get people to buy your albums. Very different from the scene in Santa Cruz. Also some family stuff and mental illness.
J: If I hadn’t met Fernly I don’t know what I would’ve done. This band has brought me a lot of happiness and I love you all.
L: I feel like we all really love each other and there’s a strong community in this band and with other bands that we play music with.
I know you are very much a DIY band, do you have any frustrations with that mode of representation?
F: It’s fun to have control. But also Kevin Kaproff has done a lot for the DIY music community. It had sort of disappeared up until a couple years ago. No one was playing shows at SubRosa or the Blue Lagoon. It’s a lot easier now because of the supportive community. Every band is bringing other bands in to their shows. Very communal, very cute.
L: I mean having a manager and making like 1000 a show would be cool and the sound quality can definitely fluctuate show-to-show.
J: I’m honestly just honored to be able to play music and have people listen. If we were in a bigger city I don’t know if we’d be playing as much.
L: Also, my freshman and sophomore year at UCSC I didn’t think there was much of a local music scene here. Up until the end of college when I started playing with Jillian and discovered SubRosa’s music scene. Through that venue I feel like I’ve met so many amazing people.