Bucky Motter is returning to the stage after a two-year absence to play a concert at Atlanta lesbian bar My Sister’s Room on Saturday with friend and artist Sophie Sputnik.
A gender queer rocker and veteran of the music scene, Motter has opened for such acts as BB King, Indigo Girls, Melissa Ferrick, Doria Roberts, Sonia Leigh, and Manhattan Transfer.
Motter answered a few questions ahead of the show and talked about bodybuilding, vocal rehab, taking testosterone, and how music can change your world.
Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m.
How long has it been since you performed live and what prompted you to want to do so again?
I haven’t played live in about two years. My friend Sophie Sputnik is an up and coming artist, and she wanted to come up from Ft. Lauderdale to do a gig in Atlanta. I wanted to be supportive of her and do a double bill at My Sister’s Room. Jen [Jen Daniels, co-owner of MSR with girlfriend Jami Siden] had been asking me to play there for a while. I wasn’t gigging partly because I have been rehabbing a vocal injury. I also have been very focused on teaching guitar and not so much my own music. One of my colleagues at work (Maple Street Guitars) overheard me playing one of my songs and he said “You know, your music really should be out there. You’re a great writer.” Since then I began practicing with renewed energy, so here I am!
What have you been doing with your life these past few years?
Besides focusing on teaching, I was training to compete in another bodybuilding contest. I hurt my hip really badly so I’m out of that indefinitely. Between my voice rehab and my hip rehab, I’ve been keeping pretty busy. Having to deal with these two injuries has really been humbling. Hurting my voice, for obvious reasons, has been really rough on my ego. On a side note, I was seriously considering transitioning a few years ago, and was taking enough testosterone to do so. I stopped taking testosterone because I found it wasn’t for me. I’m afraid, however, that I lost some of my high singing register in the process. Also with bodybuilding out of the picture, I had to give up a large part of my old persona on stage. No more muscle shirts! I left the gym for a while. I had to take a break. Now I’m back to the gym with renewed energy as well. It’s all about finding work-arounds in my life right now.
In addition to that, I’ve been doing some fun things like physical computing, using an Arduino interface. My friend and I are building a mini synthesizer. Since I’m not at the gym all the time, I have more time to hang out with friends, stay up a little later, and do social things. I used to be an equestrian, so horseback riding is in my near future.
Many people may recall you as Angela Motter. What can you share about becoming Bucky Motter?
I’ve had the nickname Bucky since around 1980. I was living with an artist who was going to the Atlanta School of Art (Now SCAD), and she was studying Buckminster Fuller. Somehow she started calling me Bucky and the name stuck. I reserved that name for my closest friends. It was a term of endearment. As I came out more and more as transgendered in the mid 90s, I decided to use the name full time. Most people know now that I prefer to be referred to with male pronouns.
“Becoming Bucky” is an interesting way to put it. I feel like I’m still “Becoming Bucky.” As Angela Motter, at least early on, I wore makeup at gigs. I always felt like I was in drag, but I felt the need to dress that way for some reason. This was back in the dark ages before Melissa Etheridge came out. I guess I thought if I projected a butch persona, I wouldn’t get the proper attention from the “Music Industry.” When I was young and naive, I thought I may get a big break, and I thought I had to look the part. Of course it was the 80s and everyone was wearing makeup! When I first got out of college I was a lounge lizard. I pretty much had to wear skirts. Thank god those lounge lizard days are over. The things I had to do to support my music habit!
“Becoming Bucky” means continuing to learn how to be a feminist, it means allowing my gender expression to be congruent with what I’ve had in my heart since I was a child, and it means becoming more comfortable in my own skin, without shame or regret.
You were recently involved with the first FTM bodybuilding contest in Atlanta. What was that like and what do you hope comes from it?
I was chosen to be the lead judge for the competition. It was truly an honor, especially considering I am a no hormone, no surgery (no-ho, no op) transguy. I know exactly what it’s like training for a show, as I did it for four years. I have so much respect for what the guys have to go through to have competition-ready bodies. I hope more guys compete next year. It’s a long road, but I learned so much about what my body could do as opposed to what my brain thought it could do while I was training. I became more fearless and more positive. Seeing the guys being so positive about their lives and their health, and seeing them have such good sportsmanship and showmanship made the evening really exciting.
The other judges and I are looking forward to next year’s competition in October of 2015. Anyone can learn so much about nutrition from bodybuilders, though bodybuilding itself is, in my opinion, an extreme sport. I hope FitCon 2015 inspires people of all shapes and sizes to take stock of their physical, spiritual, and mental health so they can move towards the kind of life they want to live.
What kind of music will you be performing on Saturday?
I’ll be singing almost all original music from my two CD’s, “Outta Control” and “Pleasure and Pain,” as well as some songs that I have not recorded. My music runs the gamut from country blues, to jazz-flavored, to jangly singer-songwriter songs. My beloved bass player will be playing with me as well as an excellent sax player who plays in the Metrognomes, the LGBT band that I play guitar in.
The beauty of being a performing songwriter as well as an independent artist is that I get to write in any genre. I don’t have to be defined as pop, rock or blues. There’s no bin or box for my music.
What does music mean to you?
Music can change your world. Being part of something that is so crucial to peoples’ lives is an honor. The first thing most people do when they get in the car is turn on their tunes. Music is everywhere.
I write because I have to. My guitar teacher, the late John Sutherland, who studied with guitar maestro Andres Segovia, said, “Everyone has to have some way to express themselves.” Music allows me to express intense feelings of grief and loss. As Emmylou Harris says, “Nothing can make you feel better than singing a sad song.” I’ve cried out loud at the music stand while writing certain songs. Conversely, writing music can be the door to great joy. To me, the physicality of playing guitar is so satisfying. I’m trained as a classical guitar player, and sometimes nothing else will do than playing some Bach. The feeling of the strings under my fingers is soothing to me.
Music can save people. I received an email from a person who said they were in their car, on their way to kill themselves, and they heard my song “isitaboyisitagirl” on the radio. It made them change their mind because the song told them their were other people in the world like them and that they could be proud of who they are. When I got that email I thought, “Well, my work here is done. Who needs a Grammy after receiving a letter like that?”