Singing has been a part of Debra Duncan and Kayla Quiros' lives since they were in high school. Now the married couple and The Q's bandmates have released their debut album, Us Who Know, chronicling their tumultuous love story.
Duncan and Quiros have called Chicago home for seven years. They previously lived in Green, Ohio, where they met each other; previously, they (separately) lived on the East Coast. Duncan was raised in a conservative Christian family with a pastor father while Quiros grew up in a mostly liberal mixed household with a white American mother as well as a Peruvian father and a brother.
Having a pastor for a father "was challenging," Duncan said. "My parents mean wellbut like any repressed queer kid in a Christian family, everything was just automatically harder. It led to an even harder coming-out. But, thankfully, after almost 13 years together, they have finally accepted it in one way or another, at least more than I ever would have thought growing up."
"Deb's family is also very musical," added Quiros. "It is a crazy gift they all have and you would not believe it until you hear them break out into five-part harmony unplanned. They also can just pick up instruments and play them without knowing how to play them."
However, music wasn't Quiros' only interest. She developed her love of sports from her parents, who were always playing backyard sports games until she shifted her focus to music in high school.
Duncan and Quiros met during their senior year, in show-choir class. At the time, Quiros had a boyfriend; Duncan knew she was a lesbian and had an "inkling" that Quiros was as well.
"We hit off instantly as best friends and it was not until a month into our friendship of running in from school, locking the door and making out with your 'best friend' that we realize it might be something more than that," said Quiros. "This became clear to us when we found out no other 'best friends' were doing this. From there it gets very tumultuous with lots of twists and turns; hiding, being caught, being banned, hiding again, running, you get the picture. But we were pretty determined and luckily came out on the other end together which is wild because we were so young and how did we know we would be compatible as adults."
Duncan moved to Chicago first to embark on her improv, sketch and music stand-up comedy act. She performed with Boyband The Musical at the Annoyance Theater, Virgin Daiquri and Randy at iO for many years, and produced the first all-queer improv show, Dreamboat with Rachel Smith.
"I have also written and starred in a handful of my own showsincluding Long Time Gone: A Dixie Chicks Musical, [which] I wrote and performed with friends Rachel Smith and Ray Glass," said Duncan. "[Famed chef] Rick Bayless even showed up, and it was as random as it sounds. I have auditioned for Saturday Night Live while terrifyingly staring Lorne Michaels in the eyes as well."
Quiros followed Duncan to Chicago a year later. Over time, their families came to accept them as lesbians. Ten years after they first met, the couple married in 2018 in a private, simple ceremony on the Lake Michigan shoreline with eight people in attendance.
After more than a decade of mostly singing in cars, kitchens and showers, the couple has decided to share their music with the world. "We fell in love again with performing together and did not look back," said Quiros.
As for why they named their band The Q's, Duncan said, "That happened in a pinch. The first show we ever did, the showrunner said 'What do I call you?' and without really thinking, we said The Q's, based [on] Kayla's last name. It happened very organically and we still love the name to this day."
In terms of their album's focus on their sometimes fraught love story, both said that when they shared it people would say they should write a book. Instead, the couple channeled it into their songwriting, which came to fruition because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Our daily lives dissipated due to the lockdown so we thought that maybe this was the time to record a song or two," said Duncan. "So we recruited one of our best budsChas Lilly, who also is an improviser on my Randy improv teamto produce it. About seven months later, our little project turned into a nine-song album that tells our story from the moment we were closeted little babies until the moment we got married, and all the twists and turns in between. It is a story that we believe a lot of people will relate to and it feels almost therapeutic to finally share it with the masses."
As for their day jobs, Duncan is a hotel reservations/guest services agent while Quiros is an independent tire-dealer assistant. Both say that the most important thing they do for fun is hanging out with each other and their dog.
Duncan also loves going to the moves; she hosts the Queer Movie Night podcast with Peyton Lynch where they discuss what they deem are the good queer movies. Quiros enjoys listening to music, cooking, traveling, bike rides and walks, kickball with friends, and watching TV and movies.
As for their new music, "releasing this album is so exciting, but so vulnerable," said Quiros. "We are so grateful to our friends and family for their kindness and support."
The album can be purchased on all digital platforms as well as Bandcamp where donations are accepted. They also have plans to release it on vinyl.
See instagram.com/theqsmusic/ for updates and purchase options.