‘We Made This ’Cause We Love You’: Boygenius on Their Debut Album, Queer Joy, and the Role-Model Paradox

Boygenius on Their Debut Album Queer Joy and the RoleModel Paradox
Photo: Mikayla LoBasso

If you’re a millennial who’s gone through a breakup in the last five years, you likely need no introduction to Boygenius, the supergroup composed of musicians Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus. All three have their own robust careers, but when they come together, it’s like the indie-rock equivalent of putting Nutella and marshmallow fluff on your PB&J; so good that you can’t imagine why you weren’t doing it all along.

Boygenius’s first full-length studio album, appropriately titled The Record, was released at midnight on Friday. Ahead of that momentous occasion, Vogue spoke to Baker, Bridgers, and Dacus about preparing to be perceived by the world yet again, working with Kristen Stewart on the album’s accompanying film, and recognizing the impact they have on young fans (especially those who are queer and/or transgender) without succumbing to the pressure to be role models 24/7. Read the full interview below:

*__Vogue: __*How are you feeling as you prepare for the album to come out?

Phoebe Bridgers: I mean, it’s going to happen in a couple of hours, so how much more preparing can we do?

Julien Baker: We’re letting go and letting God. [Laughs.]

Bridgers: I think we’re all really ready, though. Like, we recorded it over a year ago, and we started writing it a year and a half before that.

What lessons did you take away from the release of your EP in 2018 that you’re trying to apply now?

Lucy Dacus: I mean, mostly that we want to do it. [Laughs.] I’ve been waiting for this moment for our entire friendship, really, because the EP was not supposed to be the highlight of that tour; the tour was supposed to be a triple-bill thing, and then we turned into a band and were like, We should do this for real. And now we are! It’s crazy.

If there were a sibling dynamic between the EP and The Record, what do you think it would be?

Baker: I think it’s an older-younger brother thing, not because our younger selves were less mature, but in terms of having less resources to bring those younger selves to fruition. The band itself was a baby, in that we were only just becoming a band.

Bridgers: The Record also has more muscle; I don’t know, it’s just a little heartier. I think of it as an older brother.

Baker: There’s the same dynamic range, but The Record feels more thoughtful in how it navigates that range. So it also feels like it’s evolving forward.

Do you have any band rituals or ways you take care of yourselves and each other while preparing to launch something so huge?

Dacus: Well, this is cute: We’re going to go to Sound City tonight after our film premiere and listen to the record together with a few people who worked on it. That’s where we made the EP, but we haven’t been back, so I like to listen with the ears of the world. Phoebe was saying that it’s like when you have a crush on somebody, and you look at your own Instagram to see if you’d look cute to them.

What was it like working with Kristen Stewart on the film?

Dacus: It was awesome. She’s a fiery person, which sounds like you’re describing someone’s spitfire grandma or something, but she’s just like, I will burn down whatever.

Baker: That, and the constant animation. Honestly, I felt very seen by her constantly moving and being unable to sit down for five seconds, ever.

Dacus: We had to do a presentation of our video to the label, and Phoebe and Julien left, and Kristen was like, “Please stay.” I watched her get on top of the conference-room table and act out the entire thing, using her body and the wall and things in the room as props. It was completely engrossing to watch her story-tell about what we were going to story-tell; she’s just a very engaged and engaging person.

Baker: It’s also just cool to see someone so committed to their craft get excited about yours.

I know you guys talked about this in your recent Them interview, but what is it like to be a visibly queer band putting out work into a world that’s currently so hostile to the LGBTQ+ community?

Dacus: Can I say that it just feels good? We’re all pretty into the queer joy concept and lifestyle, and just to have shown up and made something that is joyful and realized is a drop in the bucket that I can be proud of.

Baker: I try to tell myself that the willingness to learn publicly is the real work, not knowing everything already.

Bridgers: I’m so proud of our group dynamic, and as a bisexual woman in straight relationships, it feels weird to talk about it so much. That said, I wish there were more types of queer people visible to me when I was growing up, and when it comes to our band and our shared dynamic, I have no shame about stepping forward and being like, “This is what we look like and how we feel and what we believe in.” It’s funny talking about visibility, because you can’t assume that any of us are gay, so we do have to talk about it. It’s like that with gender stuff, too; like, I know a lot of people who present in a way that isn’t accurate to their gender, so all of these things do need to be spoken about a little bit more. Maybe you can catch us all flagging at times. I don’t mind talking about it, especially with these guys, because it’s just another thing we relate on, but we don’t have the responsibility of being anybody’s role model. Like, I think it’s weird to put that on people in media to be role models or fucking politicians, as if we’re all trained lobbyists for collective change. I care, but I’m not a scientist. I read the distilled stuff for dummies, so to speak on really important stuff…we may not be experts in these things, but we are the experts of our own lives. So, I feel better about talking about our experiences and representing queerness in general. Even though I said we don’t need to be role models, I would have been happy to look up to us when I was 12, and that’s something I can be proud of.

I mean, Lucy, when I saw you perform in San Antonio, it was such an emotional experience because there were all these queer kids there with their moms, being like, Vacation Bible School—yeah! So to your point about not having to be role models, Phoebe, I think your work can do that without any of you having to assume the burden.

Dacus: I mean, we’ve been pretty terse with what we put on social media, but because I’m a flaming softy, I did have this urge to be like, You know we made this ’cause we love you, right?

Is there anyone or any group you really hope this album reaches?

Bridgers: I just hope that, like with all my favorite bands, it will eventually be taken away by some parents.

Baker: When you were talking about the kids being at Lucy’s show with their moms, I’m like…I want the dad to go too, and see how happy the kid is, and not understand it or connect to it but still be like, This is important. Obviously, I want this to be for the queer and trans babies that I want to hold in my arms and tell that it’s going to be all right, but for the people that don’t fuck with our music, I want them to see that someone does, and that that’s so important and can’t be devalued.