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Are You Ready For The Gay King Of Bro-Country, Sam Buck?

The singer-songwriter contrasts '90s pop country with personal anecdotes of queer identity.
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Singer-songwriter Sam Buck has in fact been described as the gay king of "bro-country."On his recent self-produced EP Borderline, Buck tells queer coming-of-age stories that range from introspective to lewd. He borrows musically from the '90s pop-country stylings of artists like Shania Twain.

When performing live, Buck is joined by collaborator -- and boyfriend -- Sam Zimman. Buck and Zimman spoke with KPCC's The Frame about the new album and their recent tour.

Buck says they were surprised at the reception of audiences in the South: "I was nervous about playing in Alabama and Texas. You know, I felt like as a gay couple we sort of would come out every night on stage. I feel like we got more love from those audiences because they are compensating for perceived bigotry. We got a lot of love just for being gay."

Not only were audiences in the South welcoming, they were musically attuned, Buck says. "We're used to playing in L.A., and we're from the Northeast. A lot of our friends couldn't even really tell that we were playing country. Then when we got to Texas people were like, sounds like Shania meets Arthur Russell."

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Like many do-it-yourself musicians, Buck makes his living through non-musical means. "Music and getting started," he said, "at this point, it doesn't pay any bills. I myself clean apartments right now, which is something I've done for the last 10 years off and on."

Buck is tall and bearded. In short, he's not your typical housecleaner:

"You don't want to surprise people with the fact that you're like a six-foot-tall man when you come to clean their house. So I put on my Craigslist ad, like, I made my headline 'Friendly Gay Guy Cleaning Service.' And I immediately got a response from a guy who runs a gay guy cleaning service. So like, I didn't get clients that way. But now I work for this guy who runs a cleaning service of just gay guys... which I don't really get the appeal. But at the same time... sure!"

Buck also regularly hosts an LGBTQ-friendly country revue and line dance in central L.A. "It's like a fast-paced variety show. We got some choreography in there. It's a pretty queer expression of country, but this was based on who we are."

Buck doesn't think of his music as anything less than real. "I don't feel like I'm playing with country. I feel like it really did choose me and that I feel very committed to it." By subverting a genre which has historically lacked LGBTQ representation, he finds a voice of his own.

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