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Coming As They Are: Breaking Down The Boygenius/Nirvana Rolling Stone Shoot and Interview

Side-by-side comparison of Rolling Stone's January 2023 Boygenius cover shoot and Rolling Stone's January 1994 Nirvana cover shoot. Original photos by Ryan Pfluger (1) and Mark Seliger (2) for Rolling Stone, with use protected under fair dealing for the "purposes of criticism or review" as detailed in Section 30 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Listeners who enjoy the sweet sorrow of sad music will be no stranger to these three women, a powerhouse trio who consistently fill the playlists of those who enjoy the practice of cathartic introspection through melancholic music. Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridgers are all accomplished in their own regard, and together their successes in ‘boygenius’ have garnered them entrance into the musical zeitgeist of the 2020s, performing and collaborating with other mainstream sensations such as Jack Antonoff, Lorde, and Matty Healy.

The supergroup first formed in 2018, releasing a self-titled debut EP later that year. At the time, the trio were all individually slowly climbing towards their current mainstream success, and the album’s popularity snowballed off of the artists’ individual feats. Following the 6-song EP, the supergroup spent time focusing on their separate ventures — Baker released a full album and 10 singles; Dacus an album, 11 singles, and an EP; and Bridgers an album, around 17 singles, and numerous features, receiving multiple Grammy nominations along the way.

However, at the turn of 2023, boygenius announced that they would once again be working together to produce an album, entitled 'the record', which is set to be released this March. Not long after releasing three lead singles as a teaser for the full album, they were soon seen gracing the cover of Rolling Stone, amping up fans and music critics alike who are desperately waiting to hear what these women have created, teetering on the tortuous edge of the emotional journey they will inevitably guide us through.

boygenius's Rolling Stone cover replicates the magazine's 1994 Nirvana cover, an artistic choice by photographer Ryan Pfluger who felt that it was the perfect fit for this trio of queer ladies who disregard the system and are insanely cool in their indifference about coolness. Donned in matching menswear suits, their silhouettes perfectly match that of the iconic rock group with Baker as Dave Grohl, Bridgers as Kurt Cobain, and Dacus as Krist Novoselic. Even further, superfans of the supergroup will recognize Easter eggs that hint at boygenius’s solo and collaborative work through the pins on their suits.

Their interview was then conducted by Angie Martoccio, who then wrote the cover story and coinciding supporting articles. Martoccio highlights the group's ironically macabre sense of humor, and their magnetic coolness generated by their unseriousness and humility towards their success. The trio are best friends in real life, collaborating not for the erupting pandemonium it creates amongst music fans, but rather out of their mutual love, respect, and admiration for each other’s work. My favorite stand out quote from Martoccio’s article is, “they were acclaimed songwriters living parallel lives, yet they sounded like one cohesive, awesome unit”, which perfectly encapsulates the bond they formed through their rising fame, producing the perfect mesh of a supergroup which is adamant that they have no frontwoman. The article also teases the upcoming March release, mentally preparing listeners for songs that will tug at the heartstrings: it hints at lyrics about all-consuming love, heartbreak, complicated dynamics with parents, and many more topics that we love to torture ourselves by listening to.

Each of boygenius's members gets their moment to shine in the articles, highlighting their different personalities, senses of humor, style, and upbringing. They all come across as approachable and down to earth, while simultaneously seeming like the most interesting and cool people you could ever meet. Dedicated fans will be more than happy with their cover story; personally, I highly recommend the read, as it is full of interesting tidbits, behind-the-scenes information, and plenty of references to the group's favorite authors, artists, and musicians — all of whom could be your next big obsession after boygenius themselves.

We definitely haven't seen the last of this supergroup, and while we wait in anticipation for the March album release, it might be smart to line up a therapy appointment for the next day.

To keep up with Boygenius, you can find them on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.


Edited by Talia Andrea, Music Editor