By Trevor Hargreaves
“Fixing bikes has absolutely nothing to do with writing or performing music,” Arone Dyer said matter-of-factly.
Dyer, one half of folk-duo Büke and Gäss, might see it that way, but the two worlds seem to meet in the bike mechanic/ musician’s dexterous fingers. As she puts it: “I put my fingers on the bike, I put my fingers on the strings and poof, there you have it: Magic!”
Dyer’s adept mechanical hands are clearly apparent on her instrument. “It was once a baritone ukulele and now, after adding strings, it’s more like a guitar, but smaller,” she said, explaining the origins of her handmade "buke."
In recent years, the two-piece act – bandmate Aron Sanchez plays a self-modified guitar-bass hybrid called a “gass” – has sporadically toured throughout North America, showcasing their music: an unpredictable jangling cacophony of timing changes, contradictory melodies, hazy vocals and obtuse sound effects.
A variety of bike projects have also kept the Brooklyn-based Dyer on the move.
“Two months after Hurricane Katrina, I went with a small group of mechanics to New Orleans and turned around 100 ten-dollar bikes so the people could get around, get to their jobs and avoid getting ripped apart by packs of abandoned dogs,” she said.
The following year Dyer spent time race training in El Salvador, and followed that up with a gig as a race-mechanic in Nicaragua for the seven-day Vuelta.
Most recently, she spent time in Ghana, teaching locals to build bamboo bikes in a setting with no electricity and few materials. “That was such an intense and rewarding experience,” she said. “The program continues to this day and there are similar programs in the States, including one right here in Brooklyn.”
Despite this wealth of global experience, as a songwriter, Dyer draws from her everyday surroundings. “There’s lots of inspiration to be had if you’re open to it, no matter where you are.”
The debut Büke and Gäss full-length album, Riposte, is available for purchase at bukeandgass.com