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March 20, 2024

Artist Interview: Buffalo Hunt – “Anonymous Pleasure”

By: Walker Lukens and Zac Catanzaro

FEAST YOUR EYE EARS ON PART TWO of our episode featuring Texan songbird actor director person, Buffalo Hunt. We highly recommend listening to the confession and song in PART ONE before Stephanie Hunts recounts how she transformed this raunchy boomer memory into such a sultry modern bop in our interview.

Big thanks to Visit Austin and Brand USA for sending us down to the festival.

Got a story you want to confess and maybe have it turned into a song? Join the Song Confessional mailing list to stay up to date on all of our latest episode, news, and the whereabouts of our confessional booth:

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The full transcript of this episode of Song Confessional is available on the KUT & KUTX Studio website. The transcript is also available as subtitles or captions on some podcast apps.

Zac Catanzaro The Song Confessional podcast is a co-production of KUT/KUTX Studios and Good Taste Society.

Walker Lukens Hey, this is Walker Lukens and you are listening to…

Intro [sung] It’s the Song Confessional.

Walker Lukens Let me explain what we do here at Song Confessional. We travel all over the world recording people like you, telling us stories anonymously. We call these anonymous stories confessions. So we pick our favorite confessions, and we give them to songwriters and bands who turn them into new original songs. In each podcast episode, you hear a confession, you hear the song it inspired, and an interview with the songwriter who wrote it. You’re about to hear my interview with Stephanie Hunt, the songwriter behind Buffalo Hunt. I think you’ll enjoy this interview a whole hell of a lot more. If you’ve already listened to part one of this episode featuring the new Buffalo Hunt song Anonymous Pleasure and the confession that inspired it. If you’ve already listened to that, well, [barbershop quartet] interview. Who am I talking to here?

Stephanie Hunt Hi, Walker, I’m Stephanie Hunt.

Walker Lukens Hi Stephanie Hunt.

Stephanie Hunt A.k.a. Buffalo Hunt.

Walker Lukens Why did you give yourself that name? Or how did you get the name Buffalo Hunt?

Stephanie Hunt Well, buffalo is a word that means to confuse, also.

Walker Lukens  In what language?

Stephanie Hunt English.

Walker Lukens Really?

Stephanie Hunt See, this is why I like it. Yeah. It’s like, I think to me, it’s like a mission statement. Hiding in in plain sight. Because, yeah, buffalo is a verb and a noun, and yeah, it’s to confuse, to baffle or to bully. And so I think in terms of choosing a moniker or describing my music or how I relate to music, it’s always going to be changing and maybe not what it seems at face value. So also it just seems like, well, my last name is Hunt. So they went well together. And, Buffy Sainte-Marie is like my favorite artist ever. So anything to kind of allude to Buffy Sainte-Marie I like.

Walker Lukens What does Buffy Sainte-Marie do?

Stephanie Hunt She’s a songwriter.

Walker Lukens Songwriter.

Stephanie Hunt One of the most prolific songwriters ever. And she’s still alive.

Walker Lukens Where do you? I’m writing this down. Where do you start with Buffy Sainte-Marie? What gets you hooked?

Stephanie Hunt Oh, there’s so many. I mean, probably, “Until It’s Time For You To Go,” which is the song that Elvis covered by her. That is a classic song, but her catalog goes from folk songs like “Cod’ine.” You’ve probably heard Cod’ine, you know, and Universal Soldier. Those are like, her big songs.

Walker Lukens Okay.

Stephanie Hunt But then she also did all of this other unreleased stuff. I’m wanting to make a tribute record to her so… again, I could talk for a long time about Buffy.

Walker Lukens I like that though. So basically it’s you like the meaning of buffalo, but then also it sort of slyly references your favorite songwriter. Your favorite artist.

Stephanie Hunt Yeah. And song writer. Favorite artist and favorite songwriter.

Walker Lukens So how long have you been performing as as Buffalo Hunt?

Stephanie Hunt I don’t even know because I don’t usually check the date, but I think I think I get few for three years. Four years. But I’ve been writing songs for over a decade. I just was doing more acting and not, you know, being pursuing music as a thing.

Walker Lukens So it’s not that. It’s not that you, started this new project called Buffalo Hunt and then started writing songs for the project. It’s more that like, it was like capstone. You like, put the name on this collection of songs and this thing you were doing and it, like, fit.

Stephanie Hunt Exactly. Yeah.

Walker Lukens Because the other day you mentioned to me that your some of the songs in your first record you had like tried to record for years. So like what’s the oldest song that you still play or identify with in that set?

Stephanie Hunt Apple Tree. Apple Tree, which I’ve recorded probably six times. With different people at different studios. Casually, while I was living in LA, or meet people and recorded or meet different musicians and think, oh, maybe we could play together. But it really took a long time to find the right people to record with, and that I wanted to make a record with that actually heard the song how I heard it, and it was kind of effortless because I like effortless. That’s what I’m always going for. So if it feels hard and not fun, it just feels like that’s the wrong choice.

Walker Lukens So are you. So your record came out in 2021, 2022?

Stephanie Hunt In 2021. Again, not great with time. No, or was it 2022? Don’t ask me. Those years. Do you know what happened?

Walker Lukens No, no, I feel like I, I, I made a lot of music. I made and released a lot of music in that period. But I. It’s just like lost to the timeline. So yeah. So did you record that record during the pandemic?

Stephanie Hunt No, I recorded it in 2018 and then was going to release it 2020.

Walker Lukens Oh, wow. And then you delayed.

Stephanie Hunt And then we delayed long patient process. But meanwhile all of the shows that I was playing and I was writing all new songs. So it’s been this weird thing where this shows that I played before releasing the record. We didn’t ever play the songs on the record live, because I also didn’t want to get burned out, and because I knew I wasn’t going to release the record for so long. So was workshopping all new songs, which is what the next record is.

Walker Lukens Got it. So you have like a plethora of songs?

Stephanie Hunt Yes. I have like three unrecorded albums, basically.

Walker Lukens Wow.

Stephanie Hunt I’m not great at the I mean, I love writing is the thing.

Walker Lukens oh. So one thing that I have noticed, in this, meeting up about this song professional project is, you came, so I asked you to do it, and you immediately said yes. It wasn’t even like. Oh, let me think about. Yeah, sure. Why not? You came to my studio to make a demo so that we could send the demo to this sweet woman in the confession. And then you came back again later and you were like. Both times you came, you were working on completely different nonmusical projects at the same time. So, the thing I like noted in this is that you, you seem to be doing a lot of stuff. Creative stuff at all the time. That’s my impression of you, I sense. Do you think that’s fairly accurate?

Stephanie Hunt I do think that’s fairly accurate. I, I think sometimes I don’t really give myself credit for it because in terms of my process or how I think of my creative flow. I like a lot of play in it and serendipity, but there is a lot of intentionality behind each thing I do, and I like the acting and writing and working in multiple mediums. And I’m a Gemini. If you want to have a cop out, answer of at all. I do have, visions in mind and timelines to execute, but they all sort of flow together in a weird way that I think maybe other people would be like, that’s a lot of different things to do in one week.

Walker Lukens Yeah.

Stephanie Hunt To me, that makes sense because I’m like, I don’t want to do the same thing every day, and I’m not inspired by the same things from moment to moment.

Walker Lukens So to to get a little more specific here. One of the things that you were doing was a songwriting camp for the veterans. That you do with your sister?

Stephanie Hunt Yeah. We host a songwriting retreat for, veterans and on a ranch in Texas, and we’ve been doing it for eight years and, super powerful. So I had just come from that when you asked if I want to write a song, and I was like, yeah, I’ve been writing songs all week. Yeah, yeah. You throw me a thing, I’ll write it.

Walker Lukens And so these veterans that you’re working with do are they, is the prerequisite that they write songs or is do they view this more as like a kind of healing, creative thing to do. And they don’t have any musical background?

Stephanie Hunt It’s it’s, people apply to come to the program and we, we like to consider everybody who’s going to participate. Some people are more experienced than others, but everybody has some sort of we’ve had people who’ve never written a song before and never played an instrument, but the way that they are talking about creativity, we’re like, they’re going to benefit from being here. But then also some people actually are actually like professionals and have become songwriters and touring musicians. Yeah, it’s definitely more of a healing experience of we’re not trying to write hits or make money. We’re trying to write and tell stories that seemed inexpressible before and use songwriting as that medicine to convey and empower yourself with something that was traumatic before, and making it beautiful and relatable that you can sing for other people.

Walker Lukens Is that part of what is at the core of your creativity?

Stephanie Hunt I think that I didn’t realize that that was something I’ve always been going for, until working with veterans and seeing the the like innocent glee and spark from like, oh my God, I just express something that was not expressible before and seeing other people do it and the magic that it makes you feel that. Then I kind of realized, I guess that is something that I have taken for granted or not considered in my intentionality. I think for me, also songwriting or really any writing is about just channeling messages and trying to not think and get out of the way and just hear what works. So some it’s kind of both. Sometimes it’s more personal and sometimes it’s universal at the start.

Walker Lukens Yeah. One of the other things that, you, you mentioned kind of casually when we were getting together to work on this thing was that you you were working on a screenplay? Have you written multiple screenplays?

Stephanie Hunt I’ve written multiple screenplays with other people. As far as my own full screenplays, I’ve written a bunch of shorts and then one full screenplay, but I have like three outlines that I’m working on right now. So. Yeah. And then a lot of my friends are screenwriters, and they’ll call me to, I really can dissect a story pretty easily. And just kind of point to the flow, you know, so I can be a story, not supervisor like consultant or whatever on scripts a lot, that kind of stuff.

Walker Lukens So, you know, when I write a song, a lot of times it kind of comes in like a fury, right? And then when I get a little distance from it, I sort of sort of know better what it’s about.

Stephanie Hunt Right.

Walker Lukens You know, that’s my process. Or maybe not know what it’s about, but like, I see all the different things it could mean. But it seems like with writing a screenplay, you kind of have to do the opposite of that. Like, you have to be very in touch with what you’re trying to say and where the story’s going and how you’re presenting the story. How would you describe what am I missing? What else is the difference between writing a screenplay and writing a song?

Stephanie Hunt I feel like writing a screenplay is like trying to describe everything at once that’s happening in a dissectable way. So it’s like this 5D view of, because the description of the room also matters, and the consideration of whose shot you’re going to, what you’re going to be looking at that would make perception different. So it’s it’s like another level of bird’s eye view, I feel like, and considering so many different aspects of style and character and story, at once, and then thinking about how to portray it visually, that it makes sense and is fun to read. So yeah, I kind of feel like it’s the ultimate challenge.

Walker Lukens Yeah. Well, it’s a ultimate world building, you know? I mean, you’re it’s the opposite of like, I think a lot of songs especially more, I think more so now than like 50 years ago, and just be so impressionistic. And you have like all the help of all this loud volume instruments to sort of like paint this rough idea of some feeling or some idea and you can be a specific or not, you know, that’s a style choice, but with but with filmmaking and screenwriting. You can’t fall back on that. You know, like.

Stephanie Hunt Well, you can, though, if you want to. Like, there’s always room for experimentation. I’ve worked with this director, Pete Ohs a few times, and we do a thing where we have a concept, and then we shoot a movie in two weeks, and we write the script as we go. So every night we write scenes, and every morning we write scenes and then go and shoot them immediately. So not a lot of people would choose to do it that way. But it’s an interesting thing that happens and you get so immersed and, you know, if you’re trying to make a low budget movie and then you’re beholden to this screenplay, you can run into a lot of roadblocks or unnecessary drama and tension that actually isn’t conducive to the most creative and fun atmosphere of, like, let’s just make this scene like this. It’s raining, so let’s actually write it that it’s at this location instead, you know? Like using your environment actively and allowing change to be part of the process.

Walker Lukens Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I guess my only corollary would be like working on a pretty improvised. Record in a way where the process is part of the creation. And like you’re trying to capture that lightning in a bottle feeling, not as opposed to bringing it into like a well-written song.

Stephanie Hunt Right. That’s the other thing about the name Buffalo Hunt is because I do feel like the creative process is like hunting, and you want to sneak up on something and then somehow be recording it and capturing it. Yeah. Shooting it, you know, and sometimes. And while it’s just in its wild state.

Walker Lukens Yeah. That’s cool. That’s a good description of your work too.

Stephanie Hunt That’s what I, It’s the mission statement, you know.

Walker Lukens Yeah, I like that. It’s baked in. It’s baked into the name. I also just really love buffalo.

Stephanie Hunt Me too.

Walker Lukens I think anytime you’re anywhere in the US where you, like are seen in Buffalo, you’re in. You’re somewhere epically beautiful.

Stephanie Hunt Yeah.

Walker Lukens Yeah. Pretty much. I mean I guess there are buffalo ranches just for like human consumption. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I mean like Yellowstone or Caprock Canyon or something. This song that you wrote for us, what is the name of it?

Stephanie Hunt Anonymous pleasure.

Walker Lukens So Anonymous Pleasure. Honestly, I, I didn’t I didn’t talk about this first to lead up to this, but it is a fairly cinematic song that you wrote. What what what was this? What was that confession about that inspired it? Tell me in your words, what it was about.

Stephanie Hunt You know.

Walker Lukens Well, for the listener.

Stephanie Hunt I know for the listener. So this was a really surprising fun confessional. That is an honest confessional, the first time.

Walker Lukens Truly.

Stephanie Hunt She had ever told the story, which is mind blowing. And I loved the recording of her telling you your boyish giggles, because that’s what I was having happen while I was listening. I was like, wait, wait, what? So an Australian woman, which I wish I could do the accent, that’s that’s all I’m going to say. We don’t know her name. I don’t know.

Walker Lukens I don’t know her name either.

Stephanie Hunt Anonymous. That’s the whole thing. But, you know, you can imagine an Australian accent telling the story of she’s in her 70s now, I’m pretty sure. And she’s telling the story of when she was in her 20s at a train stop, and her train was delayed for hours, and she was super bored. She made eyes with a random dude who came off another train and they started talking, and then they just started. Well, we don’t know exactly what.

Walker Lukens We don’t know exactly what.

Stephanie Hunt But they they they came to some sort of sexual climax in front of everybody, with that cause. And that was the question you asked. You were like, was this just do you guys go to a corner or this was just on the bench? I could understand you didn’t want to press for all the details. Never told anyone. She was a married woman and was really deeply ashamed and. But it also seemed like they had a real connection. I do have to say, and it was a real sweet memory. And how she was talking about it felt like the first time that she felt no shame about it. Actually. She was like, it’s not actually that bad. I don’t know why I haven’t ever told anybody that story.

Walker Lukens Because her husband wasn’t. He had passed away.

Stephanie Hunt Yeah, he’d passed away. And I mean, her kids don’t know. Which is also really fun for me to think about. Anyway. Sorry.

Walker Lukens Yeah. No, it’s it’s it. It’s fun to think about, honestly.

Stephanie Hunt Yeah, and he wrote her a letter and, like, tracked her down at the school that she taught at, and she hid the letter and was super scared by it, and. Yeah. And never told anybody, but had this one moment of freedom and just no inhibition that she suppressed basically from her 20s until her 70s, when she told you.

Walker Lukens It’s cool that she got to a place where she could, like, release the shame and just like, look, you know, because I guess her husband passed away. And so it was like, this is, this wild thing I did, among other wild things, you know, like, feel bad about it for 40 years. So your song Anonymous Pleasure. Is it about… What is this song about from your perspective? I mean I know that’s what inspired it, but what is this song about?

Stephanie Hunt Well I really wanted to tell the story because the story is so good. So I think that’s why it does feel cinematic is it’s telling the story, but from the lens of… From her perspective but really capturing the having no shame about it and that there’s, you know, but there’s feelings of being bad, but also knowing that it was. It felt good at the moment and kind of a retrospective on life, but, you know, had to have a sultry vibe to it. So it’s kind of like a woman looking back on a moment that she enjoyed with, you know. Considering all of the factors still feels pretty sexy about it.

Walker Lukens Yeah, I think that’s pretty accurate. I, I, I love I, I immediately really loved the song. I think it like it’s a really good key for your voice. So your voice is in the original demo that you made. It’s just you and a keyboard. So your voice works really well in that song in that key. And it’s a descent.

Stephanie Hunt It’s a lot lower than usual.

Walker Lukens Oh. Is it?

Stephanie Hunt Yeah. I don’t usually sing that low, but I was like, I gotta sing low. You can’t be singing high.

Walker Lukens Yeah, maybe it makes your voice sound more sultry or something, but it’s it’s felt really good. And it’s a descending chord progression. You know. So it just felt felt really good. And I think it’s. There is an immediate kind of film noir vibe to the song itself, to the writing itself, and I think the recording that we all made like leans into that a lot.

Stephanie Hunt I love the recording that we made. I think.

Walker Lukens Yeah, me too.

Stephanie Hunt We hit all the notes that we had wanted to, but not understood how we would.

Walker Lukens Yeah, well you mentioned. I was so intrigued because you mentioned Tom Waits. That was the artist that you brought up. Which he’s like one of my all time favorites, but he’s not very hip at the moment. I feel like he’s not having a moment.

Stephanie Hunt He’s always having a moment to me.

Walker Lukens He’s not in the zeitgeist. I guess what I’m trying to say, because, yeah, I love him. But like, I don’t know, I was, I was really it was really cool when you said that. And when I mentioned it to Sam, the bass player, and Zac, who played drums. Their ears immediately perked up like, oh, cool. Wow, exciting, you know? Yeah.

Stephanie Hunt But yeah. And then it also feels it feels modern. It doesn’t feel like it’s just pulling from a past reference, but because, you know, it’s her telling the story now. But it is from the past. But also just yeah, I just really love how it turned out. And we did it live. Everybody played live. The vocals’ a live take which I prefer to do that.

Walker Lukens One take, too. That’s what’s so wild, it’s just one take.

Stephanie Hunt Hey, we all got it.

Walker Lukens Yeah, well, it is kind of crazy because, the song that we recorded with Alejandro. It was the same thing. It was one take. I think maybe, maybe there’s, like, some sort of, mold in your house that you guys are both just huffing all the time. That makes, you singing into an SM seven in our control room, like, work really well, because it was truly one take and no click track. None of the, you know, super modern fancy stuff. But then Dan, I think, added some keys that felt like afterwards that gave it a little more of a a world. But yeah, I think it turned out amazing.

Stephanie Hunt I do, too, and it’s super fun. I mean, that’s what I mean. When you have the right people, the right place, it just happens.

Walker Lukens It just yeah, yeah it’s no stress getting it done. Yeah.

Stephanie Hunt I mean that’s how you know.

Walker Lukens Are you, what else is cooking for you besides putting this song out and finding grandma in Australia?

Stephanie Hunt Well I’m growing a baby inside of me.

Walker Lukens Yes.

Stephanie Hunt Yes. I’m eight months pregnant.

Walker Lukens Wow.

Stephanie Hunt Yeah, it’s very intense over here. So, yeah, there’s a baby on the. In the future, I’m also going to do a live record at Sagebrush in a couple weeks.

Walker Lukens Damn! While eight months pregnant.

Stephanie Hunt Yeah, but it’ll be solo. I’ll be solo. I’ll be like the baby Buffalo Hunt show, but I’m trying to think of some sort of, like, conception or. I don’t know.

Walker Lukens Why? I mean, why would you? So cool. But why? Why, why are you doing this?

Stephanie Hunt Well, I want to do it because I’ve been playing these songwriter nights and hosting songwriter nights at Sagebrush. A lot I did, like, a few months last year at different residencies there. And it made me play my songs really different, playing them solo. And I feel like after I have a baby and I, I think everybody goes through a phase of amnesia and of like, what the before times were once you have a baby. All the moms I’ve talked to. So wanting to capture these songs before, I potentially forget how I’ve been playing them. Also, it’s kind of the easiest way to make a full record in one day.

Walker Lukens I also think, when you perform the songs live all the time at a particular set you grow really comfortable with. Them being different every night. Like, they’re really living things, you know? And that’s such a great thing to capture. Before. Before, like you say, like you move on, you know, because you get bored of playing the same tunes. But it’s good to remember what, what it felt like when they were that group of songs. It’s like a living, breathing thing.

Stephanie Hunt Yeah. And that and also I’ve been writing new songs as I haven’t been playing these solo songs as much in the last few months, so. You know, it’ll be a little bit of a challenge for me to get back to the just letting it be what it is. But it’ll be sweet. We’ll see what happens. We’re going to record it and be a intimate evening at Sagebrush.

Walker Lukens Cool.

Zac Catanzaro If you think you have a story that we would want to feature on this podcast and could be turned into an amazing song, come by one of our booths. We’ve got a permanent booth at the Mishawaka Amphitheater outside Fort Collins, Colorado. We’ve got another permanent booth here in Austin, Texas at the Long Center. Come in. Record a confession. We will hear it. If that is not convenient for you, go to the liner notes of this episode. Click on the link to our website and see where we’re going to be next. We might be coming to a festival near you, or you could always send us an email and contact us directly.

Walker Lukens This podcast is produced by me, Zac, Jim Eno, Aaron Blackerby, Tate Hoeven, Zahra Crim and distributed by KUTX.

Zac Catanzaro The theme song you heard at the top was written by myself and Walker Lukens. It was performed by me, Taylor Craft, JJohn Calvin Abney, Dan Kramer, Will Van Horn, and some beautiful vocals by Tyler Brown.

Walker Lukens We want to give a special thanks to Elizabeth McQueen in Matt Reilly at KUTX, ONErpm, Jesse Rosoff at Mint Talent Group, Bobby Garza and The Long Center, Danny Grant in the Mishawaka Amphitheater, late teenage trauma, psychedelics and you nasties out there who trust us with your stories.

Zac Catanzaro If you like this podcast, you can support us by sharing an episode with someone you know would like it. You can also support us by following us on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook at Song Confessional.

This transcript was transcribed by AI, and lightly edited by a human. Accuracy may vary. This text may be revised in the future.