For members of the indie new wave trio White Boyfriend, the goal is to make music that skews gender norms, sexuality and geography.
The Yale grads grew tired of the American East and moved to Minneapolis in 2013 to play music together.
Now bassist Dan Hansen, drummer Katharine “Kitty” Seggerman and keyboardist Nicky Leingang combine their queer and feminist perspectives in White Boyfriend’s light synthpop grooves, culminating in their residency at the Kitty Cat Klub in Dinkytown.
“People look at you funny if you talk about starting a band [at Yale],” Hansen said of the band’s confining time in the Ivy League. “There’s really no student music scene. There’s a cappella.”
While White Boyfriend avoids a cappella, the group’s neo-psychedelia craftily blends smooth three-part harmonies, especially on the disco-tinged “I’m Breaking Up with Mr. Smiles.”
On the new single, White Boyfriend breaks convention by mixing a standard pop aesthetic with queer lyricism.
“It’s really hard to find songs where you have a female voice singing about female pronouns or a male voice singing about male pronouns,” Hansen said. “It was always something I wanted to do.”
While same-gender romance is often ignored in music, Leingang said he doesn’t consider the viewpoint foreign to the trio’s songwriting.
“I’m not thinking about the queerness of the perspective because the perspective is queer,” Leingang said.
Seggerman said White Boyfriend’s uncommon sexuality construct — two queer men and a feminist woman — is reflected in the band name’s origin.
“Nicky had a string of suitors for a while, and none of them were white,” Seggerman said. “And then there was this one white guy that came along. [Nicky’s] roommates didn’t know his name. They were like, ‘Where’s white boyfriend at?’”
“He was really bland,” Leingang said. “Not just white in race, but just bland.”
Upon arriving on the Minneapolis music scene, the band said the community’s inclusion helped White Boyfriend grow without feeling stereotyped.
“We’ve had this worry sometimes that we’re going to be tokenized for being a queer band,” Leingang said.
But when they take the stage, that doesn’t happen.
“As soon as Kitty starts playing drums, they know we’re a real band,” Hansen said.
Above queerness, the band said they’ve feel the music scene’s misogyny is a difficult hurdle.
“I don’t think it’s a stigma; I think it’s just that men constantly devalue women,” Leingang said. “People take me and Dan seriously because although we’re queer, we’re still men.”
Seggerman said despite Minneapolis’ general tolerance, the music scene is still dominated by male attitudes.
“The presumption is I’m not serious, I probably don’t play an instrument,” Seggerman said. She said that in other bands, many often mistook her as “probably the girlfriend.”
In retaliation, Seggerman wrote “Poison Rings,” a song that she said is about “literally poisoning misogynists.”
“I’m taking these negative stereotypes and then turning them around to be like, ‘OK, I will poison you,’” Seggerman said.
Though White Boyfriend is finishing their Kitty Cat Klub residency this week and putting out their debut release soon, the band said normalizing the queer perspective in music is their ultimate artistic goal.
“It’s not an abnormal thing for me to be thinking emotionally about a guy,” Leingang said. “And to get to the point in music where people don’t think that it’s weird that my voice is singing about a guy needs repetition to get to.”
What: White Boyfriend with Beasthead and We/Ours
When: 9 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Kitty Cat Klub, 315 14th Ave. SE, Minneapolis