argonaut&wasp are an electronic band from Burlington. We’d describe the band’s sound as a funky The XX.
Indietronica caught up with Trey and Theo for a quick chat.
1. Who’s in the band, and how did you form and decide to start making music together?
Our band consists of:
Trey Schibli – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Producer
Theo Klein – Back Up Vocals, Synths, Producer
Alec Donkin – Bass
Kevin Whitehead – Lead Guitar
Willoughby Morse – Drums
Theo: Trey and myself met in the fall of 2012 in our dorm (University of Vermont). We started producing music that consisted of the blend between electronic and rock music. We then found Kevin Whitehead (who brings the funk) and Alec Donkin (who brings the swag). All we needed was a drummer – and a drummer is what we got. Willoughby ‘The Shark’ Morse – The kid is straight fire. In terms of song writing – Trey and I work on electronic production (Using Ableton) and record vocals/keys/and guitar. Then we bring the guys up to the studio and have them collaborate by tracking their instruments and getting their input.
2. What’s the story behind the name Argonaut & Wasp?
Trey: During an English class, Roots of American Journalism, we had a lecture on the journalist/fiction writer Ambrose Bierce. He was the father of famous satirists like Edgar Allen Poe. His bitter wit, fascination with death and horror made his style and prose strangely appealing to me. One of his most famous works was the Devils Dictionary, he took words and phrases and redefined them in his own terms, for example ‘Painting: The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic’. However, what obsessively drew me into his story was Bierce’s famous disappearance. To this day no one knows what happened to him, his body has never been found. His last known communication with the world was through a letter he wrote to a close friend, dated December 26th 1913, with which he closed by writing “As to me, I leave tomorrow for an unknown destination”. After doing some personal research into his fiction and journalism works, I discovered a column he wrote for during his early career called, ‘The Argonaut and the Wasp’. I loved the name. Brought it up to Theo and he said we could only be named argonaut&wasp if he was the Argonaut—I didn’t put up too much of a fight.
3. What was it like growing up in Burlington and what is the music scene there like?
The music scene in Burlington is absolutely awesome. We have some great artists coming through here – and it is the home of Phish. It’s quite cold/rainy/snowy most of the time – but that said, it only makes the clubs sweatier. Trey is from Connecticut and I grew up in that New York State of mind…so Burlington is still relatively fresh.
4. Tell us about the song/video for ‘In the Drown’.
This is a great question because the essence of the song changed dramatically the more it was worked on. Shortly before school had ended, I pulled up a very old project file that I hadn’t heard in about a year, showed Theo and we began to revamp it entirely. The song quickly transformed into an interesting fusion of House, and Trap Music. But it wasn’t until we added the guitar that the powerful element of funk surfaced. With the instrumental rapidly developing, I remember sitting in class thinking of lyrics to accompany vocal melodies I had been playing around with. I was wearing a silver cross necklace—I’m not particularly religious—and for that matter, it was the first time I had ever really worn it. And as quirky as this sounds, I began to question why I was even wearing it! So my first verse of lyrics began something like this:
“Lay me down,
I’ve been bearing a silver trust
For way to long,
It’s beginning to weigh me down.
A three-point Pressure on my chest, And a ghost who won’t rest,
Until my heart falls still
In the Drown”
We didn’t sit down to actually record the vocals until summer had started, and at that point I had met Claire Sammut, and simultaneously re-kindled an old musical relationship with the Burlington based artist, Jacob Es. I decided I wanted to work with them on the vocals for “In the Drown”, and the theme of the lyrics quickly changed as the three of us collaborated. To be blunt, they transformed from something bizarrely religious into a song purely about the dangerous nature of passion and sex.
Regarding the making of the actual video for ‘In the Drown’, we worked with the incredibly talented film producer Patrick Elmore from White Ridge. Patrick and I met over the winter of last year during a ski trip out west. The two of us are like brothers—we share the exact same creative drive and when together, our passion seems to manifest into tons of new and creative ideas. I approached him about producing our music video because I loved the work he was doing for his company. Patrick drove up from Maryland to begin working on the project mid summer, we shot for roughly three days. Working with Pat was so much fun, I had never been involved in a video shoot before and he made it the best possible first experience. He knew exactly what he wanted, and how to make it come through in his shots. He even did all the lighting himself! However, the most incredible part about all of this is that he produced such a stellar product with a $0 budget.
5. How do you describe your sound?
It’s kind of like a mix between funk, rock, and electronic – we thought Indietronica would be a great place for our sound to be heard!
6. What did you grow up listening to?
Trey: Radiohead, I am obsessed with Radiohead. Some other large influences are The Strokes, Animal Collective, Modest Mouse, The Rolling Stones, and Kanye West
Theo: James Brown, Wilco
7. What new music are you listening to at the moment?
It seems like we are both really digging Charles Bradley, Lee Fields, Sharon Jones – and the whole contemporary resurgence of the UK Garage scene.
8. What’s next for you musically?
We are planning on the release of our brand new Single ‘Pistol Pump Funk’ with a new music video in about a month. Stay tuned.
For now, you can watch the video for ‘In The Drown’ below:
Sounds like: The Strokes, Modest Mouse, The XX, IYES