Higher Ground

There’s a song that has been in heavy rotation here at TMN HQ, and it has been since July of last year. We’ve been patiently waiting for a new song to appear from Burlington-based indietronic duo argonaut&wasp, and luckily for us, we’re getting to premiere that brand new song.

Dropping today out of your favorite musical dojo, “Higher Ground” is a delightful return to the blogosphere, providing a smooth, funky bassline, a powerful chorus, and light, accentuating synths. Harnessing elements from multiple genres, it brings us right back to where we were when we first heard tunes from members Trey and Theo.

Coupled with today’s premiere is a quick Q&A sesh with these two. Press play and enjoy the read.

argonaut&wasp’s new EP Future Protocol is out February 20th.

Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for more info.

TMN: Hey guys. Thanks for taking some time to answer a few questions for us! Before we even kick things off, we gotta know…how did you come up with the name?

Trey: Right around the time that Theo and I had started collaborating I was introduced to the writer Ambrose Bierce. I fell in love with his satirical prose and fearless muckraking journalism. Beyond his style, Bierce had a compelling story: He disappeared to Mexico and has never been found—rumor has it he linked up with the famous rebel leader, Pancho Villa!

Anyway, Bierce wrote for two columns, The Argonaut and The Wasp- I fancied the name and brought it up to Theo.

TMN: We still listen to “Pistol Pump Funk” religiously. It’s such an eclectic blend of genres. Where’d the inspiration for that tune come from?

Trey: I was listening to a lot of UK garage at the time and really trying to learn how to get that swing and jerk of the drums/bass down. While it now sounds nothing like that, the bones of that track really just stem from experimenting: the two-tone synth patch and groundwork for the drums were the result. Lyrically- the track encompasses the same overall theme of the songs on the rest of the EP—a ‘coming of age’ story and learning how to stand up for your ideas and inspirations… “You won’t take me, from these city streets… I’ve had to crawl for miles, now I’m on two feet…” (Pistol Pump Funk).

TMN: After that release, you guys went quiet. What were you up to over that time?

Originally, this EP was going to be a fall release. So our plan was to have the single, “Pistol Pump Funk”, drop in the summer and follow up shortly after with the rest. However, we decided to take an extra couple months and re-visit the studio. We had been playing extensively in the Burlington area with our live band, and we really wanted to capture what they brought to the tracks on stage as well as we could on the record. Controlling the balance between the extremely dynamic workings of organic instrumentation and the locked-down synth work took a ton of editing, mixing and re-producing.

TMN: We once again find ourselves experiencing numerous influences with “Higher Ground”, which that has us curious. What does the creative process look like for you guys? Since there are elements of classic instrumentation and electronic elements, what goes in first?

Trey: The creative process begins with Theo and I developing the roots of the track (synth hooks, chord progressions, drums, vocal ideas and e-bass) and then the organic elements are added (finalized vocals, guitar, etc…). We then work with a talented group of musicians (Kevin Whitehead, Alec Donkin, Willoughby Morse, and Max Freedberg) to track and record live instrumentation that we cannot recreate using computer technology. Then Theo and I take back into the studio, make sure everything is crisp, and then send it off to our amazing sound engineer Jonathan Doyon for a master.

TMN: How many other songs are on the upcoming EP? Is it meant to be listened to as a whole, or is it more so a collection of songs?

There are three other tracks on Future Protocol (one of which has been already released with a music video – “Pistol Pump Funk”). The other two tracks will be coming out in the next few weeks…the EP is definitely meant to be listened to as a whole but each song stands alone strongly. As noted in an earlier question, these tracks work together to express a fairly singular theme; this is our first compiled body of work and a huge step in maturation and development for ourselves as both artists and individuals—these songs tell that story. The entire EP will be available with a limited physical release as a CD (artwork designed by the wonderful Elizabeth Goodspeed) and also available on Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, etc.

TMN: We’re hoping this EP kicks off some bookings for you. Is there anywhere in particular that’s on your list once that starts happening?

We are planning on starting in the northeast and going south. We would love to play venues in Montreal, Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, and Washington DC this Spring. While we are not disclosing much of our “Future Protocol Tour” just yet, we cannot express how excited we are to share some big festival dates soon.

What would be the holy grail of events or venues for you guys?
‘Chella Bra!

TMN: Alright, last one. It’s a bit odd, but we ask this to everyone. If your music were an animal, what would it be?

In fact our music is an animal, one indigenous to Peru… the alpaca.

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