Patterns & Shapes

’Royal Tongues – Rollin’ On’
’Royal Tongues – Awkward Arm’
’Royal Tongues – Just Want To Live’
’Royal Tongues – Higher’
’Royal Tongues – The Balance’

Royal Tongues first came onto the scene last year with their infectious single “The Balance,” introducing the blogosphere to their melodious brand of indie pop. Building on the sounds of pop both past and present, the NY/LA duo, consisting of Aaron Bonus and Justin Gammella, have crafted a sound equal parts addicting, dance-able and inspiring. We’re really excited to be bringing you the premiere of their debut EP, Patterns and Shapes, a cohesive five-track euphoric journey. Start your weekend early with the stream above and learn some more about the recording process behind the project in our exclusive interview below with band member Justin. If you’re digging this as much as us support on iTunes when Patterns and Shapes becomes available for purchase on March 10th and catch their EP release show at the Waiting Room in Buffalo, NY on March 13th. 

TMN: First of all, congrats on the EP! It’s got me dancing by myself over here.

Royal Tongues: Thank you very much. We tried to make this EP fun and make people dance, glad it’s working.

TMN: Can you tell us a bit about where you both were in life when you first linked up? And how Royal Tongues came to be?

RT: Aaron and I met around 2 years ago, his manager at the time asked me if I’d be interested in writing and producing a song for his band at the time. I happily agreed and we completely finished the track in one day. Aaron then went on tour for a bit to support the release while I was in Buffalo producing and writing with local artists. Once he came back he asked if I’d be interested in writing songs for TV/Film and pitching to artists with him for a couple of small music publishing contacts he had. We did that for around a year (and continue to do so) but during those writing sessions we would experiment with different things and through some of those sessions came what would soon be known as Royal Tongues.

TMN: You guys seem to already have a really well-established sound. Which artists and/or eras of music do you find most inspires that vibe? 

RT: We get a lot of our sounds and writing influences from both Alternative and Pop artists and producers from the last 50-60 years. Aaron is a big fan of Roy Orbison, Tears For Fears, David Bowie, Queen, Michael Jackson etc. I am a big fan of The Beatles, The Bee-Gees, Justin Timberlake, Dr. Luke, Brand New, Thrice etc.

 A lot of people think our influences are all over the place but I think the one thing that unites all of the artists I mentioned is that they always put melody first and that is what we do as well. You can have an amazing production but without a great melody it’s nothing.

TMN: The EP has such a larger-than-life sound to it. What was your studio setup like and what was the recording/collaboration process in putting together such a cohesive project?

RT: The entire EP, except a few parts in “Rollin’ On”, was produced, recorded, engineered and written in my home studio in Buffalo and to be completely candid, it’s very minimal. I use Pro Tools, Reason (rewired) and sometimes (very rarely) Logic. All we really have in the studio are a couple of mics, an interface and some instruments. We used a Shure SM7B for pretty much every vocal and an SM57 or the SM7B on almost every guitar.

Because Aaron and I are so cheap (because we have to be, ha) we refused to ever rent out a studio. So we had to learn to use my home studio and in doing so realized that we had limits. There are certain things we could not record or do just because I didn’t have the equipment or proper space to record it in. So this forced us to think differently than we had before. It is definitely why we have a pretty good mixture of electric and organic elements in our songs; I could not be more glad about this.


TMN: On a similar note, it seems like the music would translate really well into a dance-floor ready performance. What would be the ideal venue and stage set up for a Royal Tongues show?

RT: Aaron and I have always been in bands that had a decent amount of live members in it. I believe there is something to be said about the feeling people get seeing 5-10 people on stage, who are masters at their instruments, play their hearts and souls out for a crowd. If we had all the money in the world to put on the exact show we wanted you’d see the set up we have now (Aaron on vocals and guitar, me on keys and a few other instruments, 2 additional guitar players, a bassist and a drummer; 6 total) and then some. A lot of our songs have horn arrangements that I would love to add to the live show and any other random instrument we decide to throw in songs sometimes. We are also huge fans of amazing light shows that these huge stadium bands get to do. That is something that we are planning on putting into the live show as well, soon.

TMN: What’s the most unexpected sound or effect you used in the production of the project? 

RT: I purchased a mandolin a while back because when we were writing for TV/Film were getting a lot of requests for songs with it. In the second verse of “Higher” there is the mandolin in there that I recorded with a Rode NT5 and then put it though a Guitar Amp Simulator and added some delay and reverb and a few other things too. It sounded great and added a lot of space and depth to that second verse.

TMN: What’s your current favorite song?

RT: “Electric Love” by BORNS. That act is going places.

TMN: Anything else you’ve got coming up that you want people to know about?

RT: We are currently working out a Spring Tour to support the EP and will be releasing some remixes in March/April for other artists’ songs, so keep an ear out for those.

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Royal Tongues