Meet Dufferin Starship, the Band Who Made an EP About Bunz Trading Zone

This one goes out to all the fedoras on the Dufferin bus.

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Nov 29 2016, 5:06pm

This article originally appeared on Noisey Canada.

Toronto, though actually expansive, is often referred to as the "biggest small town." Now with the online bartering community Bunz Trading Zone, that feeling of closeness and community is further entrenched in city's social make-up. Bunz, formerly Bums, now commonly referred to as simply BTZ, began as a Facebook group dedicated to people trading unwanted items for something they do want. Trades for or including actual money are forbidden. Commonplace items include tall cans, tokens for transit, gift cards, and bottles of wine. These Torontonians have modest needs.

In the last year-and-a-half in particular, BTZ has exploded in popularity with over 58,000 members in its original group with spin-off, if you will, groups like Bunz Home Trading Zone, Bunz Dating Zone, and, a personal favourite, Bunz Pet Zone. BTZ has even gone north and reached Montreal. In homage to the connections, jokes, and trials of the group (think of the worst online comment threads and you'll likely find one in BTZ), we have Dufferin Starship. The band, its members only known by their first names, was formed by and write music about BTZ. Dufferin Starship, which is a name inspired by the insufferably Dufferin St. bus, have made a jangly pop-rock EP called Not In Service, which captures the breeziness of BTZ. "Trade It All" is the purest BTZ track of the bunch, detailing all the kinds of items for trade—skills, marijuana, CDs, half pack of smokes—with the lyric "I'll trade it all to you/for a stick and poke tattoo." Noisey spoke to the band via email about why the hell they decided to make an EP, let alone music, about the BTZ experience. Not In Service will be available Nov. 30 on the Bunz Trading Zone app and Bunz headquarters at 372 Richmond St. W tomorrow in exchange for a non-perishable food trade to the Parkdale Community Food Bank.

Listen to the EP below and read our interview:


Noisey: Can you take me through Dufferin Starship's origin story? Which thread or post did you all find yourselves on Bunz Trading Zone?
Dufferin Starship: I posted my 1998 Stratocaster because I needed a new bike or set of bike wheels to finish another bike project so I could get around. I posted the guitar on Bunz and people were pretty interested. When I took the guitar over to this place, James and I realized we had met a couple times in the neighbourhood. He plugged it into his amp to test it and played a bit. We shot the shit. I was laughing about it because we were talking about Bunz and all the funny shit that goes on. A week later he reached out and had a demo of a song about Bunz. We were joking about that but I didn't think he would actually do it. It was basically a Bunz themed song and he had an idea about making a Bunz themed band. Anyway, it was funny and I liked it. So I started messing around and I wrote one too. Bobby wanted to record it so we went out to my friend Bradley's place and recorded it with our friends John and Tyler. We were having fun and it [set] off a spark in us.

The sound is distinctly a vintage pop and rock with sharp, quaint guitars. How does the content inform the sound?
The whole concept for the band is Bunz. The funny stuff, the trades, the topics, and all the trolls. I mean it's all kind of kitschy and fun, it's not serious so we just did what we wanted. The sound is mostly an accident, we all wrote songs after we heard James' first one so we kind of all followed that lead, I guess. Our vibe was really light and fun, we wanted the music to reflect that.

Does BTZ proper have much influence on the group or what music you make?
It's funny, because when we started getting this going we realized we all have lots of mutual friends. Bobby is friends with Morty from Bunz. Morty was laughing his ass off when we played him the first song and instantly wanted to help out. His idea was to make it a trade-based album where people could only get it if they traded a food item in support for the Parkdale Community Food Bank. That made sense to us because we aren't trying to make money off this and it's a real Bunz move to use it for charity.

Would you consider doing an EP for every BTZ offshoot group? I'm looking at Bunz Dating Zone or maybe Bunz Pet Zone.
Oh god. It was such a funny thing that we haven't even really thought about the next steps or anything.

How many of you take the Dufferin bus on the regular and how infuriating do you find it?
Oh, we have ALL taken the Dufferin Bus so many times. You enter the 29 bus a regular everyday person, get projected into the Dufferin realm and it may or may not transform you into your own bizarro starship character eating generic brand Cheesies from a fedora. You are definitely in a new world. The Dufferin Starship is what you make it. One time I saw a guy with no shirt on try to light a smoke on the bus until everyone stopped him. A friend of mine watched a rider eating a raw hotdog while dipping it in an open container of sour cream. The Dufferin Bus is like a national treasure on one of the worst maintained streets in Toronto. The patrons are wonderful characters.

Sarah traded a lamp for really delicious French cheese once. Follow her on Twitter.