A few months ago an AfterEllen.com reader turned me on to a duo of two gay ladies from D.C. making a blend of jazz-infused hip-hop that is as provocative as it is infectious. A little while later, a few emails from other readers trickled into my inbox to make sure I was aware of The Lost Bois.
Artists A.O. and B. Steady grew up together and their love of music was the tie that bound them. The music and accompanying videos the two put together are filled with humor, swagger, intelligence and personality out the wazoo. They seem like the type of girls you just want to hang out with because there wouldn’t be a boring second.
We got the chance to talk to the Bois and I’m hoping this will get the word out about these fly girls.
AfterEllen.com: I got into your music from having more than a few emails from fans – you’ve got a really loyal fan base and I’m not even sure you’ve got a proper album out. That must feel really good.
B. Steady: I wouldn’t say that we have an album out but we’ve got some songs on iTunes. We don’t even have a proper website really. [Laughs] We’re pretty much YouTube based. Hopefully that will change.
AE: I have to ask, as a fan of Peter Pan and Sandy Duncan in little green tights, did you choose your name as a nod to the boys from Never Never Land?
A.O: Yeah! You pretty much hit the nail on the head with that one. We pretty much go along with the whole theme of being a lost boy.
BS: Yeah and creating your own community, our own family, as a parallel to the queer community and being people of color. And the Lost Boys created their own family of all different guys.
A.O.: Yeah, it’s inclusive even with being kind of sectioned off.
BS: Yeah, they’re almost even anarchists. They’re sort of wild and they have their own rules and it’s sort of a political thing too.
AE: I love that you’ve made it a mission to create jazz infused hip-hop – and your song “The Race” is really powerful. Would you say that song, because it is both about race and queer consciousness, is kind of the Lost Bois anthem?
BS: Huh, I’ve never thought about it like that! Actually it’s one of my favorite songs. It’s the whole idea of innersectionality and where we come from and what we do now. Your class, your race, everything comes together to make up who you are as a person. And so everything we speak on really is inclusive to who we are as people.
A.O.: Most people would usually consider “Reading Rainbow” our anthem. We don’t usually do like straight-up political songs but we both felt the need to do that at that time because there were a lot of things we hadn’t said yet that needed to be said.
AE: I think it’s really pretty funny that I’m interviewing you today because I just watched the episode of Community where Levar Burton (from Reading Rainbow) was on. Did that show have a huge effect on you — I mean since you just said most people consider it your anthem?
A.O.: I think – or at least I guess I would hope that people from our generation got to see that show. It was great, I mean what can you say?
BS: [Laughing] Yeah and I guess I never really liked reading but a TV show about reading is something else. I loved that show when I was a kid.
AE: You’ve alluded to the fact that you wanted to make queer music that wasn’t hyper-political. Do you think that sometimes our message, the queer community’s message, ends up getting drowned out by making things overly-political?
A.O.: I think that message needs to be out there but it tends to be the only message. Everything about us is political so in that sense, it’s like we don’t need to just keep hammering out the message but awareness is not a bad thing.
BS: We struggle every day. And it is really nice to have a space to just be romantic – and knowing that that struggle is behind it but not necessarily having to make it an issue all the time.
AE: You’ve known each other for a long time. When did you meet?
A.O.: We went to middle school together and high school together. We didn’t go to the same college but we always knew each other.
AE: Were you both out in high school?
BS: Yes, we both had girlfriends. We were very out. [Laughs] Yes, very much so.
A.O.: Our high school was small and we’re coming to find out now that a lot of the people we went to school with are gay. They weren’t out at the time but me and B. and like two other people were actually out.
BS: We actually had tried to start a gay-straight alliance back then but they wouldn’t let us. It exists now but back then they said no. It was kind of rough.
AE: So what was that like, being out in high school and having a very acute awareness of yourself in an environment that wouldn’t even let you have the alliance?
BS: Well for me I guess it was interesting because I grew up in a very low income neighborhood and then went to this private school where I always felt like an outsider. I never felt like I fit in. So maybe in that sense, being gay almost felt easier because I never had a place to be.
AE: What would you tell gay kids today if you had the chance to give them some advice?
A.O.: I think I would just say you will always find a place to be yourself. It is hard, it is of course not as easy as if you were the norm but there are a lot of people in this world and even if you’re in a small community, there are places. I just encourage people to actively find those places.
BS: I think also if you find some artists out there who are great, who are living now or who passed already who are queer — like James Baldwin and Audre Lorde. There are just so many artists who will make you feel comfortable with yourself.
A.O.: Yes and in that vein, this is like a PSA to those people who are in a position to offer their services, I’d say just make yourself available or at least be aware. If you see something or see somebody and you know you can help, do it.
BS: That’s what I think is so exciting about the online community. We’ll get emails from people saying, “I’m a black woman coming out in the south and I’m really worried about my family, can you help me?” It’s like, even if you can’t find people close to you geographically, reach out to them online.
AE: For knowing each other for as long as you have, you two seem to have great chemistry in your music and your friendship, has it always been that way? How do you keep the magic?
A.O.: Wow, that’s a great question. Yeah we’ve known each other for a long time and we know each other really really well. And people grow and change, so changing with somebody or watching somebody change is never a cakewalk. But at the same time, those changes are really beautiful and they’re things you want to see. There’s a lot of love between us.
BS: I think it’s a funny story. We began as awkward friends and we stayed with each other and loved music together. And my first girlfriend – they (A.O. and her) were kind of like boys together. And I was like “the girlfriend” and now working together is a whole new relationship and I think the thing we need to work on most now is being friends and colleagues/teammates because work isn’t that much fun – so setting aside time just to chill and be friends is important.
AE: What’s next for you ladies? Can we expect some touring or a proper album we can all grab?
A.O.: We’re kind of planning a summer tour and getting to colleges and universities. Making more videos and writing more songs.
AE: How can we spread the word for you – would you be looking to do cross-country touring or anything? Pride shows?
BS: Yeah we like to do prides! We’re just trying to get our music out there anywhere we perform. So folks should definitely check out our music online and our videos on YouTube.
You can find The Lost Bois on Facebook.