“Buy Her Candy”: an alternative indie song released in 1997 by Sleater-Kinney. It also happens to be the name of the St. Louis rock band created by Clayton High School senior, Lukas Calsyn.
“It started off as a solo project,” said Calsyn, “but it has since become several different entities”. At first the name Buy Her Candy was simply an Instagram handle and a Twitter username, but it is now attached to seven original songs. While Calsyn is typically on vocals and guitar, he can’t take all of the credit. Since Buy Her Candy’s original conception, he has enlisted John Burroughs senior Shayfer Huitt and MICDS junior Peter Grace (pictured below). When Huitt isn’t busy fostering four cats, he’s on stage playing the drums. Meanwhile, Grace is the band’s bassist, (although he also dabbles in the tambourine).
Calsyn was scheduled to play a show in 2019 on his birthday, but his drummer quit moments before they were supposed to go on. Luckily, Huitt came to the rescue and was able to fill in.
“He played once and we were like, ‘Oh my god, this changes everything,’ said Calsyn. After that, Huitt became a permanent member. Meanwhile, Grace started as a fan. “I was watching one of their concerts and I thought it was super cool, and I went up to them and was like, ‘Hey, you guys don’t have a bassist. If you ever want one you should hit me up,’” says Grace. It is safe to say that they did in fact hit him up, and they have been jamming out harmoniously ever since.
Together these three have been exploring the St. Louis music scene whenever possible. They are legendary in the Clayton community for their CHS bonfire performance, the night before the homecoming game. Since then, they have performed everywhere from The Red Flag to The Sinkhole, to any basement that welcomes their art with an eager audience.
“The craziest part is just where it takes you,” says Charlie Van Emden, who has been involved with the band since the very beginning. He is “passionate about art and [enjoys] helping them create that.”
Van Emden along with another CHS senior, Anette Martinson, is responsible for all of the magic behind the scenes. They are some of the visionaries behind the Buy Her Candy merchandise including the stickers and t-shirts sold at the live shows.
For Calsyn, this is more than just a band. The songs are more than just lyrics with a catchy tune in the background. “I think of Buy Her Candy as expressing what I can’t with words.” He hopes to create a connection with every audience and have them think, “Woah! I haven’t seen that before, and leave them awestruck.” While he is performing, it is his goal to “leave an impact and let people go crazy, because [he] can’t do that in any other facet of life.”
He is particularly inspired by Nina Simone, who once said, “I want to shake people up so bad, that when they leave the nightclub where I have performed, I just want them to be in pieces.”
This trifecta achieves electric energy on stage. They always have crowds on their feet and “moshing” (as Calsyn puts it). As an audience member, it is easy to forget that these are just some high school students having a good time when the product feels professional. By the time people are walking out the door, they know that they have witnessed something incredible.
The process of creating something of such impact is perhaps not what one would expect. Through improv sessions, the group has been able to pull various pieces that they love or think work well to write their original music. “Sometimes we will just be jamming and be like, ‘Wait a minute, that was really good, let’s go back to it,’” says Calsyn. “Some of the best stuff we have was an accident.” He describes their process as “just having fun”.
It is this mentality that has slowly allowed their following to grow. It started with a couple of Clayton students and their friends, and then college students in the area, and has spread to other avid participants in the St. Louis music scene. Through the power of the internet, Calsyn has even been able to develop somewhat of an international fan base with listeners all the way in Switzerland.
When each of the members was asked what was in store for the band’s future, they responded with various versions of the same answer. No one knows. Calsyn and Huitt will likely be leaving for college while Grace is finishing out his senior year.
“No matter what Buy Her Candy will continue, even if the lineup changes and morphs,” says Calsyn. One thing that they all knew for sure was that there would be music in their future and that the end of this road does not mean the end of their involvement with Buy Her Candy or the music world.
“This summer we have to bang it out. That’s the short-term goal,” says Grace.
Calsyn wants to thank everyone who has taken the time to listen to their music. “Even if you don’t like it, I appreciate it”. He wants to remind any hesitant musicians to “Start a band if you want to, there is nothing stopping you except yourself.” Calsyn, Grace, and Huitt are living proof that following a dream can lead to amazing opportunities, good times, and pure exhilaration.
Those interested in following them on their journey can find them as Buy Her Candy on Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and Instagram. Be sure to catch them at an upcoming live show.
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