TeamMate’s love story is as unique as their sound. Scott Simons (keys, synths, vocals) and Dani Buncher (drums, vocals) were romantically involved for years, but after Buncher came out, the duo channeled their chemistry into creating hits like their latest single “Damage.” While one relationship is behind them, a new one has clearly developed into something wonderful: their new album, out now, was almost entirely co-written and produced.
TeamMate talked with Paste about those Sargent Pepper jackets, cargo shorts and stylish Whole Foods shoppers.
Photo by Shawn Corrigan
Were you always interested in fashion and style or is that a more recent development?
Scott Simons: I guess I was in a subconscious way. But recently, as we’ve tried to present ourselves in one cohesive look without “over matching,” we’ve had to focus on our styling a lot more. Personally, I love to layer. I wear some sort of hoodie, jacket or both year round. Thankfully, aside from a few exceptionally hot weeks in late summer, this can work in LA. But on stage, I’ve had to find a balance between what I like and what functionally works. Some jackets can not only restrict my movement but also get really hot while under the stage lights. Also, I love a good high leather boot, but that isn’t always best for moving around either. I’ve always loved the simplicity of Chucks, but I recently the discovered the Converse leather street mid-tops, which have a wider opening and fit around the cuff of my jeans with more cushioning. I love performing in them.
Dani Buncher: For me, style is more about self expression than high-fashion, and that has been a big part of me for as long as I can remember. There is so much power in presentation, and I think it’s interesting and fun to play around with different styles that allow you to stand out and also blend in, depending on how you feel on any particular day.
How do you dress in your day-to-day life as opposed to when you’re performing on stage?
Simons: It’s not vastly different. I like to be relatable on stage so I’m not too out there with my style choices. I usually just try to “amp up” the daily version of myself for performances and find the right balance between comfort and style. If I had my choice, I’d wear sweatpants 24/7, and sweatpants style has really gotten good in the last few years, no? I can feel Dani rolling her eyes at me right now so I’m gonna stop.
Buncher: I’d rather Scott wear sweatpants than cargo shorts… yeah, stage isn’t too far off from real life. It’s kind of funny though because on stage, a jacket only lasts about 2-3 songs until I turn into a sweaty mess, so I have to choose my layers wisely. In real life, I don’t really need to make those same sort of decisions.
Simons: One day, cargo shorts will be socially acceptable again. I’m just ahead of the curve.
What’s one of the biggest fashion “mistakes” you’ve made in the past (a bad trend, for example)?
Simons: Oh, man. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I found, what I thought to be, an awesome button up sweater on discount. I had been waiting a few months to wear it and one night the temperature was finally cool enough. I put it on, had a moment of doubt in the mirror, and then assured myself that the white, double breasted, shawl collar sweater that was just a little bit too small on me was perfect. I showed up at my friend’s house before going to the Hollywood Bowl to see Robyn and my friend Ben took one look and said “Bro, you look like Boys II Men ‘Let’s not wait til the water runs dry’ video.” I was self conscious all night. Robyn was amazing, though.
Buncher: I’ve had some questionable haircuts and plenty of “this outfit looked way cuter before I left the house” moments. But to be honest, it’s more fun talking about Scott’s. Scott tell the one about the front page newspaper feature in college…
Simons: [Laughs] Oh, no, I forgot about that one. In college, when Dani and I had just started dating, I found an AWESOME shirt that fit me so well at a thrift store and decided to wear it for my band at the time’s big gig at the West Virginia University Fall Fest opening for Busta Rhymes, The Marvelous 3 and Everything in front of 14,000 students.
Buncher: This shirt had an “Express” label and it was a three-quarter-length ribbed sweater with a somewhat open neckline. It was 100% a woman’s sweater. So I thought Scott should know the truth. For the record, I am 100% in support of blurred gender and androgynous style. This just wasn’t the first time that Scott was bamboozled by the men’s section at the thrift store…
Simons: Anyway, the next morning, the school paper ran a story on the front page… accompanied by a huge picture of me singing in a ladies shirt.
Buncher:To be fair, it looked REALLY good on him. It looked WAY better than the flared women’s jeans he bought from the men’s section around that same time. Here’s how that conversation went: “Scott, those are women’s jeans. / No they’re not! / They have a button fly with no flap. / That doesn’t mean anything. / They have hips and a flared bottom and literally no room in the crotch. / Ok, maybe you’re right.”
Photo by J. Rosenstein
What movie, music video or TV show had the most iconic fashion for you?
My So Called Life was a huge one. Even watching it now, the characters and vibe feel so familiar. It almost looks contemporary now that the 90s are back in full effect. Haircuts and styling are a lot better now, though.
Simons:It’s cliché as a musician to answer The Beatles for anything, but I grew up a Beatles freak. And seeing how much they did in the short 8 years they were dictating popular culture is insane. Not just their incredible music on all of those albums, but their looks changed drastically over that short span of time. The mop top with the suits were shocking on Ed Sullivan. The rainbow military outfits for the cover of Sergeant Pepper’s. John’s round glasses. George’s denim look on Abbey Road. Paul’s beard in the “Let It Be” video. I don’t draw specifically from their style, but I was always inspired how their style was an extension of their personalities and where they were musically.
Why do you think fashion is important in a larger cultural sense?
Buncher: Sometimes the loudest statements come in the form of fashion. It can take shape as protest, solidarity and at the core of it all, self-expression. When our voices can’t or won’t be heard we have a lot of power in our presentation.
Simons: Fashion, like other art, is self expression. And as a creative person, I’ve learned inspiration can come in many forms, not just from the medium I work in. In other words, I used to listen to music to be musically inspired. I’ve learned that seeing how other people find new ways to express themselves creatively within their own realm is equally, if not more, inspiring. And in a larger cultural sense, fashion, like other art, pushes the envelope and challenges the status quo. Something that looks or sounds ridiculous now, may be the hippest thing next year. And fashion is really good at taking something old and presenting it into something new again. Although, I can’t imagine a scenario where JNCOs make a comeback. Maybe I’m wrong.
How does fashion relate to music?
Simons: Fashion is a great extension of a musician’s personality. Like I said, I don’t like to separate myself too much from the crowd. I like to be relatable. But I don’t want to blend in too much either.
Buncher: The two go hand-and-hand. Both can generate some very fleeting trends and they can also capture some very timeless moments.
What do you read (magazines, Instagram feeds, whatever) to keep up on fashion?
Simons: Hmm, living in Los Angeles, you can literally go to a Whole Foods or a 7-11 and see people dressed really well. I kinda check out what other people are wearing in my daily life more than online or in print.
Buncher: There’s a whole lot to look at in Los Angeles, Scott’s right about that. If you’re ever curious about current trends all you need to do is go to a Whole Foods and you catch the full range of hot new styles from activewear to night looks.
How do you approach styling for something like a music video?
Buncher: As far as music videos are concerned, it’s important to find cohesive looks that match the mood of the song and capture the energy of the band. We work closely with the creative director and stylist to pull pieces that not only make us feel comfortable but help us reflect the true essence of the band.
Simons: Yeah, we’ve been fortunate to work with some great stylists for our music videos. We each have strong opinions about what will or won’t work for us, but we’ve had people that have challenged us to try some things out of our comfort zone and it’s paid off really well. Usually, we’ll go on a frantic shopping spree with a stylist and pick out a bunch of pieces and looks. I like the challenge of finding cool pieces on a budget so everything from Zara, H&M and Uniqlo to a couple of nice secondhand stores like Wasteland on Melrose are my usual go-to’s. Also, when I visit my mom back home in West Virginia, there is an overstock-type store called Gabriel Brothers where I can find some cool pieces to bring back—especially boots and shoes—at non-LA prices.