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There are the cheesy, tender love stories and the boring, static ones; the heartbreakers and those head-shakers that never even make it past that cringeworthy pickup line. Scott Simons and Dani Buncher know theirs doesn’t fit easy description. Perhaps it’s because it’s still being written.
Sure, several years ago, when Buncher came out to Simons, they stopped referring to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend. The music however? That unspeakable connection that bound them together all those years, carried them through rough patches and made things work even when everything felt in wild disarray? Well, that, Simons says, was the singular element of their partnership that not only survived but blossomed. “It was our therapy,” Simons says of his and Buncher’s decision instead to forge ahead on their winding road of a relationship. Rather than lose the other, they chose to embrace their unparalleled connection, forming the synth-pop duo TeamMate. “Part of the healing process for the end of our romantic relationship ending involved us playing music together,” Simons, who shares vocal duties with Buncher and plays synths and keyboards in the band, declares. “Still existing today as a partnership is our best achievement.”
Winding up together as a band was hardly a foregone conclusion for TeamMate. Having first met at West Virginia University, Simons stayed in West Virginia after college; Buncher took up shop in New York and then her native Pittsburgh. Both were pushing hard with their respective former bands and yet, much as they’d always done, the pair continued swapping musical advice with each other. “For years and years Scott would send me music and I would give him my brutally honest criticism or support,” Buncher explains. It was only after Simons asked Buncher to back him on drums for some solo gigs that the two realized their talents were best utilized as a unit. “It felt like something new was happening,” Buncher recalls of an early joint songwriting session with Simons. “We just knew where our musical ven diagram overlapped,” he adds, while Buncher says everything immediately “blended quite nicely.”
Having grown as both musical collaborators, partners and, most importantly, friends, TeamMate are finally at a point of being realistically optimistic and excited about their future. “If we had told each other back in college: “You are going to date for 10 years, break up and then start a band and tour we would have never believed it,” Simons says. “The whole story that’s led to this moment is so convoluted and crazy but I wouldn’t change it. It’s led to this incredible collaboration.”