How do ya'll set yourself apart from the pack? We write fucking bangers.
We recently met up with ConBoy, an indie pop rock band based in New York City, lead by two queer women, Daisy Spencer and Cherie Bugtong . They came up with their band name after finding themselves constantly mistaken for boys. They are not just artistic partners, but also a punk rock power couple. Drunk Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with these amazing women to ask about their self-titled EP, queer female politics, and the music industry.
Tell us about yourself.
Daisy: I was born and raised in New York City, where I feel like you have no choice but to grow up really fast. I’ve never lived anywhere else but here. It’s definitely my home base. I started playing in one of my first bands ever, The Skins, during high school until eventually that’s what I dropped out of college to do full time. We were touring a lot and I was learning way more via those experiences than being in a classroom. The Skins went on tour with DNCE in 2017, where I met Cherie in LA, on the second date of the tour. We totally fell in love. And now that’s my future wifey, who I also get to make music with. Our biggest connection was our love for music, in my eyes. We were always sending songs, bands, and albums back and forth to each other and then that turned into “listen to this guitar thing I wrote” and she’d send back a melody she heard over it. Finally, we started actually sitting down and writing together and created ConBoy.
Cherie: I'm a mixed brown girl from Houston, TX born and raised in the Dirty South. I spent half of my life raising my brothers and sisters like they were my own children, which to this day has been the longest job I've ever held. After high school I studied radio-television-film at University of Texas in Austin for 4-5 years and didn't totally feel passionate about it until I dropped out. That's when I road tripped to LA, working as a freelance videographer and editor for 3 years, getting sober, and scraping by till me and Daisy crossed paths in January 2017. Just a year ago. That's when it all happened.
How long have ya'll been working together?
We’ve been working together only the past 5 months so ConBoy hit both of us really fast and hard. It was one of those things where we saw an opportunity to pull a trigger and we did it without hesitation.
Where did ya'll get your start in music?
D: Growing up I always had music playing around my house. The first album that majorly struck a chord with me was “Fever to Tell” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I was 10 right when it came out—my dad showed it to me (thanks dad!). To this day, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are one of my biggest guitar influences. I wanted to be a guitar player because of their guitarist. Eventually, I got my own guitar when I was around 12 years old and played it horribly until I got lessons at an after school music program called School of Rock when I was around 14 years old. I just kept playing and now I’m 24 and still playing.
C: I’m Filipino so that sums up where my love for singing stems from. We are known to karaoke any and every song known to man. But seriously, we’re blessed as artists and music runs deep in our blood. I'm also half Mexican and just so happened to fall into a mariachi band in high school, so you can imagine the vast and colorful array of music that was captivating me in my household growing up. Apart from my culture, I grew up singing in church, choir, and musicals. Being that I grew up around so many languages, I was a natural at singing in so many of them. Once I thought I'd be a multi-linguist artist, that turned into me thinking I'd be the next Regina Spektor after learning how to play piano in the Philippines during a vacation. I remember returning to the states and learning as many covers as I could on piano in my hot ass room in TX. That was 11 years ago before I felt like I had to sacrifice my dreams of being a singer/songwriter to provide for my family. I knew if music was meant to stay in my life, it would find its way back to me. And here we are picking up right where I left off.
ConBoy reminds us of other rock bands steered by queer women that have dominated the charts in the past. How do ya'll set yourself apart from the pack?
C: We write fucking bangers.
Where do you find your inspiration?
C: Even though I may look like a dude to some, I certainly don't sound or sing like one. So I look to female artists because it's more relatable for me, especially when it comes to performing. Nothing against male artists, I can name a ton who also inspire me but women have always captivated me. I just find their energy, drive and confidence to be sexy and dangerous. When you combine that with the timeless voices of Whitney Houston, Joan Jett, Karen O, Janis, or obviously, Beyoncé, get ready for nirvana. The way they demand your attention and make the stage their bitch is so boss. They and many others push me to be a better performer.
D: We’ve been listening to the UK band Marmozets on repeat. They rule. We’re drawing a lot of inspiration from them for the next project. This first EP definitely has some Weezer meets Tegan & Sara vibes, but we always add our own twist to everything. A lot of our friends say we sound like “this” or “that” so I guess it’s up to the listener.
What are your favorite (and least favorite) aspects of making music?
D: I love playing live. It gives you a natural high that no drug or alcohol can give you. And also that feeling when you finish recording/producing a song and it sounds exactly how you want it to sound. My least favorite thing is when the opposite of that happens.
C: I love when the right words pop out of my head and Daisy can immediately hear chords underneath. Then, boom we made a killer song. I hate when we can't get it. We work fast so we don't like to spend too much time on a song and when that happens, it's like we're forcing it to be good, which tends to lead you on the wrong path.
Tell us about your debut EP.
D: We made this project out of our bedroom with the help of our friends. You can tell through this project that we have stories to tell and shit to say. That was our biggest inspiration. The only place to go from here is up.
C: Artistically it’s the beginning of an era.
Where can our readers get your EP?
Now, let's get political. What's it like to be queer women, especially as androgynous women, in the world and in the music industry?
C: Daisy and I are a couple of musicians that happen to think we're the coolest people you haven't met yet. And if you have then you know we’re total goof balls that love to play music and eat all the time, so we're no different than your average millennial. If there was ever a downside to being queer it's that the world is too slow at realizing we're just girls with short haircuts trying to get to the women's bathroom.
Do ya'll find that queer women are often overlooked in the music industry and in the world?
C: I can only speak for the industries I work in, which is in music and film and I can definitely say the male gaze has always existed in these two worlds. The good news is we’re living in a time where women of any color race or creed are standing up for themselves more than ever in their work and their place behind the music and the lens. Granted, this has always been the case, the only difference is we have the internet. So people are reading, watching and listening and it’s opened doors for the queer society to claim their place as well. The movie “Below Her Mouth” was directed by a woman named April Mullen and run by an all female crew which is completely badass but people coin it as “the female gaze” -call it what you want but I see it as people are getting tired of the same inaccurate washed up stories and are taking matters into their own hands. You can do anything with crowdfunding by the way.
What are your opinions on lesbian bars (or the lack thereof)? Do you think there's misogyny in the LGBT+ community? Have either of you faced chauvinist behavior from other queer people in the community?
Lesbian bars are a great space for like-minded people to be in one place. But there's good and bad people in every community—between sexual orientation, ethnicity, where you work, etc.—there is always going to be assholes. We like to surround ourselves by people we love and who support us the same way we support them. Whatever shape, size, color, sexuality that person comes in, we’re a fan of them.
Do you think activism belongs in music?
D: Hell yes it does. If you have something to say, music is a great way to get a message across if that’s what you’re trying to do. ConBoy is all about speaking from personal experience. Our music thrives off of that. I wouldn’t say this EP is political. Our goal is and always will be to inspire people so whatever way we can do that, you can bet we’ll be doing it.
Is there anything else you want to tell our readers?
Brush your teeth kids. And listen to ConBoy.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Marina Ali is a student, writer, poet, and blue lipstick enthusiast. She is a staff writer for Brown Girl Magazine, the features editor for Drunk Magazine, and the social media manager for TMO Media. When she’s not writing or studying for classes, you can find her picnicking in pastoral East Texas, crafting for her sorority sisters, or making food.