Folksy duo Cheese Boys are a Gouda time

by Shelby Grebbin / Beacon Staff • February 3, 2016

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Clara Lorant and Robin Shuster created Cheese Boys in December 2014.
Clara Lorant and Robin Shuster created Cheese Boys in December 2014.

It’s a biting evening in December, the kind that sings in the silence that breathes between each footstep on the sidewalk. Ignoring the clank and clatter of glasses and guests, you waltz into a lively soirée with your sights set on finding the cheese platter. To your despair, you find the spread devoid of dairy—without a cheddar, Brie, or Swiss in sight. The gathering exhales as a harmonious hum exudes softly from the next room—a sound none other than the creamy voices of Cheese Boys.

Senior Robin Shuster and junior Clara Lorant, both visual and media arts majors, said they’ve been making music together since they were sophomores in high school. In December 2014, the singer/songwriter duo finally aged to perfection—breaking a bite off the band scene with their two-woman troupe.

“My uncle asked us if we wanted to do a gig, so we just kind of came up with the name on the fly,” Shuster said. “Our friend had a funny story where he had a band when he was a little boy called the Cheese Boys. We like cheese so we decided to stick with it.”

They described their music as a mixed bag, with shreds of folk, pop, alternative, queercore—an LGBTQ offshoot of punk—and cheesiness all intermingled.

“I like my songs, but I don’t ever want to play them out in any venue outside of my room unless I am with Robin, with harmonization, and with a guitar,” Lorant said.

The pair said they write their tracks separately, then revise them together.

“The songs that we write just kind of come out in this very organic way,” Shuster said. “There is no real procedural application; they just kind of flow out of us when the time is right.”

Cheese Boys said they’ve played at multiple venues since their formation, most notably last October at Emerson’s Queer Music Festival, hosted by Emerson’s Alliance for Gays, Lesbians, and Everyone.

“The festival was a very fun and supportive environment,” Lorant said.

A live recording of the festival is available for free online on the Cheese Boys Bandcamp account. The playlist consists of eight songs—six of which are original works, two are covers, and all are expressions of the performer’s individualities.

“We both identify as queer and feel like that word is very important politically for many reasons,” Shuster said. “Just in terms of visibility, to attach it to the music we’re playing which is an extension of ourselves as are our identities. I think it’s important to just get that word out there and get people asking questions.”

The duo also recently played at the Lunchbox, a student-operated house show destination in Brighton. Lorant said that their songs are mostly about emotions and experiences.

“I wrote the song ‘Too Soon’ this summer about old patterns and feeling like the patterns that you have sort of created for yourself are defining you,” Lorant said. “But then [it’s also about] realizing those patterns are artificially constructed, and you can be whatever you want to be.”

Shuster said that “Trouble,” a song she wrote for the band, was inspired by the universal experience of heartbreak.

“It’s a little difficult to talk about,” Shuster said. “It’s about an experience of breaking up and lowering expectations for people in your life and feeling like the rug has been pulled out underneath you. All that good stuff.”

The band’s next performance is scheduled for Feb. 25 at the Fazenda Cafe in Jamaica Plain.  

“There are always positive vibes when we work together,” Shuster said. “We spend a lot of time together, and we are friends autonomously from this. Cheese Boys is just a way to bring what we love to the stage.”

Shuster and Lorant each described in detail the cheeses that they felt best represented their personalities.

“Robin would be a delicious and subtle mozzarella straight from the udder of a cow,” Lorant said.  

After some deliberation, Shuster had a pick for Lorant as well.

“Clara would be a crystalline aged Gouda,” Shuster said. “Something that’s just crumbled down the mountain and is very sharp.”