Queer indie electronica band and Auntie Bellum favorite, TOMBOi, have a new album out, just returned from a long tour, and are hurtling into Girls Rock season. But, they graciously gave us some of their precious post-tour down time to answer a few questions. Read on to hear more about their latest musical endeavor, Spectrum, their continuing activism in Jacksonville, and their plans for the summer.
Your first album is out! Talk about your inspiration.
The songs are inspired by the social and political climate of growing up in Jacksonville, FL, and also the national dialogue of what it feels like to be queer (just from our perspective). The album name, Spectrum, was partly inspired by the youths of Douglas Anderson [School of the Arts Gay Straight Alliance] and their Spectrum showcase.
What has changed since your last album?
Alex has spent the past year learning Ableton and decided to produce and record the album vs. working with another producer. The beginning of the album is a sample from a sex positive record from the 1960s called “The Drama of Sex”—We’ve been trying a lot of new techniques in creating and using more samples. All of the sounds were designed on the Groovebox MC-505 and sampled into Ableton, and manipulated further. We’ve tried some stereo guitar effects, recorded drums at different studios, and all around have become more cohesive as a band.
Tell me about your activism in your community.
We all think it’s important that our music be tied in with social justice work, to use our platform as musicians to lift others up. We’ve made it a point as a band to be involved with organizations in our global community that we stand behind such as Girls Rock Jacksonville, JASMYN, The Jacksonville Trangender Action Committee, Douglas Anderson’s GSA, Books2Prisons, and Doctor’s Without Borders. Individually, we’ve worked on projects outside of Tomboi—Alex has DJed and emceed benefit events, Summer and her studiomate, Karen Kurycki worked on a 100 Days Project (@100DaysForLGBcuTIes), collaborating on artwork to bring more awareness and empathy around Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance.
There are still staggering obstacles to equality in the South, but change is happening, particularly in cities. Do you see progress in Jacksonville?
We agree. We have seen progress lately in the way that queer and poc youths in the south have felt more comfortable and confident to share their truths in public spaces. For instance, this February, for the first time in Jacksonville history, our city council passed a LGBTQIA-inclusive HRO. But it didn’t come easy, it was fiercely contested. So there are definitely lots of small victories but much more work needs to be done.
How can people get involved?
Contribute locally in whatever capacity you can whether it’s attending town hall meetings, using your voice, art, music, etc., VOTE, create or facilitate dialogue in your community about issues that are affecting you and/or your community, volunteer with your local shelters and resource centers, and overall just do what you can to be an ally to marginalized communities.
Tell me about Girls Rock Camp Jacksonville?
We’re all volunteers with Girls Rock Camp Jacksonville, a summer camp for empowering girls, trans, and gender non-conforming youth using music experimentation, DIY media and peer collaboration. We’ve met so many other Girls Rock Camp volunteers and organizers across the U.S., who’ve joined lineups with us and/or helped us organize shows while on tour. It feels good to have a network of peers working to support one another and create radical change.
You’re one of the busiest bands I know. How do you keep up with it all?
An organized Google Drive is important to us. So is communication with one another. We’re passionate about what we do and it keeps us driven. We have goals and deadlines and try our best to achieve them. We also feel support from our community in Jacksonville and now other cities… which makes us feel loved, validated, and inspired to keep going.
Where are you headed on tour?
Our tour is coming to an end soon! We’ve traveled through Georgia, Alabama, Texas (SXSW), Arizona, California, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, and Tennessee. When we get back home we will be taking a lil traveling break, working on some upcoming events in Jacksonville, then heading back out to the East Coast in June.
What’s on the horizon?
Once we’re back home, we’re interested in working on new music and makin’ plans for the summer in regards to booking. We will be playing the Jacksonville Magazine Fashion Show on May 19th. This will be our second year providing entertainment for the event. It’s a different style than a traditional show, which is cool, and we are starting to branch out creatively and perform in new ways as musicians. We are also playing a wedding for a friend and gearing up for Girls Rock season.
You’ve introduced me to some amazing folks making great music (geexella, Folk Is People, Little Girl – to name a few). Any more recommendations?
We ALWAYS have recommendations! Be on the lookout for more music from our friend Robi Rütenberg, who tracked drums on our album, and has their own project called Gabe Darling. As well as LANNDS (FL) , Wise River (FL), Tiides (Brooklyn, NY), and Löwin (Austin, TX).
Here’s their latest single, “RainbowWarrior”
Photo provided by TOMBOi