We met Kalmia Traver, lead vocalist and sax player of Rubblebucket, a Brooklyn-based funk dance troop, standing in the green room on a carpet already littered with small squares of white confetti paper- a playful hint to where the night would lead. Her slender frame and fair skin animated by a vibrant orange and yellow poncho, paired with sparkling gold baggy shorts over black leggings. What could easily have been mistaken for her stage outfit was actually just her driving PJ’s. She would later sport a petticoat upon her shoulders, normally worn underneath a skirt to exaggerate it’s volume. She greeted us with an unassuming and innocent smile before we made our way to a couch along the back wall. The small room was cluttered with other musicians chatting, snacking and sipping on kombucha, a favorite drink of Traver and other Rubblebucket members.
Traver’s first order of business that morning before departing Brooklyn for the Flower City? Acquiring the leaf blower they use as their confetti cannon, obviously. Then they loaded the van, hit the road and after a tumultuous interaction with the GPS, made it to Anthology an hour late but ready to start the party.
After taking her spot on the couch to chat with us, Traver parted a grocery bag at her feet to unearth a quart of soup from a local noodle bar which she proceeded to drink straight from the container. No frills here.
Traver’s free spirited nature made it easy to relax into playful conversation before switching gears to discuss their current projects. Since the release of their EP If U C My Enemies in early 2017, Rubblebucket has been working to complete a full length album, with the first month and a half of 2018 set aside to finish it up. Traver and Alex Toth (sax/vox) had been heavily experimenting with their solo projects, leaving less time for Rubblebucket recordings until more recently. Traver’s project Kalbells explores a softer side with whispery vocals, but a familiar quirkiness, with bells, synths and other curious sounds decorating her tunes. Toth chose to put down the trumpet and pick up a less familiar instrument for his self-titled guitar venture Tōth.
As projects develop and evolve, musicians are constantly refining their image and identity. Rubblebucket once called themselves Rubblebucket Orchestra. As Traver was discussing the decision to condense their name, some tall guy slid into the conversation to invite the band to breakfast the next morning. The rest of her explanation spun down the drain before we could catch it as the conversation stayed on food.
Back in November she posted an Instagram photo adoringly posing with a few Brussels sprout stalks. Both Traver and Toth share their concern for sustainable farming and other environmental issues, which they both studied in college. Now they bleed these topics into their performances, hearts set on using their music for more than just giving people a good time. Their Dec. 29 performance at Anthology also included an information table on renewable power so fans could get learnt on how to reduce their carbon footprint.
When it comes to protecting their creative environment, we asked Traver about any pre-show rituals. Traver’s only anchor is selecting an outfit that will accentuate her dance moves to add visual interest on stage and put her in the right mindset for the performance. She gets her “dancespiration” from the world at large and from frequent dance excursions in her room with the help of a mirror. As any good dancer knows, a mirror is the key to methodically evolving dance skills, using the constant visual feedback to refine or exaggerate movements.
Oh and if you were wondering why a dusting of confetti flecked the green room carpet before the show even began, Rubblebucket came equipped with an arsenal of confetti balloons for the performance. One of the big balloons unexpectedly popped in a “sad happy accident” as Traver called it, providing the sprinkle of playful floor decor for our pre-show hangout.