Photo by Henrike Hannemann
With a playlist that strikes the chord of radical transition, BOIBAND meets Berlin at the Maxim Gorki Theater for a string of performances over the next two months starting May 12.
Like the word “ boi”, which can name a whole spectrum of LGBTQ identities, BOIBAND resists a single definition, lying unfixed somewhere between a concert and a performance. It does draw upon the performers’ personal stories of being trans* or living outside the gender binary, yet is not a the well-tread musical with a narrative either. It might be a band, or a collective authorship of hermaphroditic poetry. BOIBAND, with a cast comprising performer Tucké Royale, singer-songwriter Hans Unstern, and producer and vocal artist Black Cracker, is bent on blurring distinctions.
We sat down with Royale and talked about the nature of collaboration, and how the group might provide a model for eroding gender, aesthetic and authorship roles.
What was the genesis of your collaboration with Hans Unstern and Black Cracker?
Some years ago Hans and I became friends after I was invited to Hans’ first concert, and he was invited to see my first solo show. Working with each other on performance, music, and texts, we both gave up that‘ one-single-person-genius' authorship thing. We started thinking about forming a group, and at that point it was about style. We wanted to find a more contemporary sound that had a future-driven direction; so we asked Cracker to collaborate, and Cracker was also interested in Hans’ music. It’s nice because between Hans and Cracker the music is so different, but there isn’t a feeling of a contradiction.
In the press release, there is the sense that BOIBAND presents a kind of transitioning into a new era of gender –
...or music in Germany...
...or, I love this phrase, “the effeminisation of the occident.” So how do you think it contributes a new voice for music in Germany, or the performance or trans* communities in Berlin?
I would say there’s a chance of being seen as a group that can manage diversity, which is sometimes seen as something very complicated, and so difficult to handle. A good thing for the reception of the show, or group, or art project, could be that it’s trying to integrate as much as possible between the people working together.
Like it’s not that crazy to work together.
I'm an optimist. Even if it’s utopian, then the reality should change.
Did you work on the song lyrics collaboratively, in addition to the music?
That was not the plan, but that’s how it happened. I have to say, with Hans, we were always talking about poetry. We are really focused on words. One benefit from three people (Hans, myself, and our collaborator Johannes Maria Schmit) developing the text was it not being about one person being right and the other not. Between two people it can still feel like a fight sometimes. Between three of us it’s more like a discussion.
Do you think of BOIBAND more of as a band, or a performance group, or is the distinction not really important to you?
On the one hand, it’s a band, on the other hand, it's like plastic. Hopefully BOIBAND has that effect – a social plastic that people can jump on for making music. Or maybe people in the audience can find their courage to start painting the next day.
So it’s almost more of a platform.
Yeah, I hope that some people are encouraged by BOIBAND, and start developing things they might have put away for a few years. Maybe it’s an exercise for not being alone, about being interested in what difference can be. Because of course we on stage are different, and so many people in the audience are different between themselves. Which is fine. I love that. I’m curious. Hopefully there will be a few more bands in the future, or writers, or queers, or grandmothers that start dancing.
BOIBAND, May 12-14, Jun 30, Jul 1, 20:30 | Maxim Gorki Theater, Am Festungsgraben 2, Mitte, U-Bhf Friedrichstr.