We couldn't wait for the weekend, so on a Thursday night, we headed over to every #EdgarAllanFaux’s favorite hotspot, The Goodroom, to catch newly formed band Astronaughty debut their new single, "Try Much Harder." Since the band met at NYU, they had a faithful local following at the show, ready to rock out to their self-proclaimed "poptimistic" music with strong lyrics. We talked to band members Sam Radseresh and Charlie Pinel about their sound, how their name "Astronaughty" came about, and their favorite song lyric. This is one band that would be a fan favorite at any major festival, and we’re sure they will be soon.
Labeling Men: Tell us a bit about your background and influences.
Charlie Pinel: So we met our freshman year of college at NYU and we were both studying music production. Sam came from a background where he was more of a singer/songwriter with a classical training, so he had a lot of knowledge surrounding pop and music theory. I came from a background where I was playing with my friends in bands back home when I was pretty young, around twelve years old. One thing we connected on when we met was the sound and references of classic rock. Three years ago at the end of our freshman with our previous project we were thinking of Simon and Garfunkel, he was thinking of the Beach Boys, and I was thinking of Animal Collective. Those were common ground references. Since then we’ve developed songwriting wise. We wanted to have fun with it, wanted to sound more modern. That’s where disco and French music like Justice, Air, and Daft Punk influenced us as well as British dance pop music like Fujiya Miyagi. Those formed a lot of the direction we’re in right now.
Sam Radseresh: We were involved in a bunch of different projects. Charlie and I have been writing for a while together, I’d say for about three years. A couple of years ago we were writing a lot of songs on the side that were more poppy from the other music we were making at the time and we didn’t really know how to package that sound. But then we started listening to dance music and a lot of different music. That made us become more “poptimistic” with how we approached the pop sound. So we began to enjoy coming up with melodies that caught us in the sound. We’re very melodic thinkers; that’s sort of our backbone. About a year ago we started recording a bunch of songs that we had abandoned for many years, we put them together, we thought of a band name, and everything formed naturally after that.
Labeling Men: How did you guys meet and form?
Charlie Pinel: As a collaboration what started us was a homework assignment that we did together. We just had to record a small song and I had this melody in my head that I heard on the radio that was similar to “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone. I had that song in my head and I had a stupid acoustic version of it in my room, which I brought to Sam. We ended up having the song at the end, which was an improvisational moment that felt right. Then that same summer we went together to a festival to see a mutual friend perform with the sole intention of just having fun. At that point we grew closer because we both shared the feeling of being isolated where we were at that point in our lives. We weren’t necessarily passionate about the music that was surrounding us or what we were doing, so we needed that kind of rebirth. That kick started our first project, which was more experimental ambient rock. Sam started listening to more club music, though I’m not sure where, and then I started opening up to it. The base of it is sharing interesting music. I follow him where he goes and he follows me where I go.
Sam Radseresh: We grew up listening to a lot of songwriter’s music and we were songwriters before, but we became deeply in tuned to dance music. We don’t want to lose what we used to have when we’d make something that was very melodic and harmonic, so we want to apply that to something that’s very dancey. That’s what we do naturally based off of what we used to listen to and what we listen to now.
Labeling Men: Where does your band name come from?
Sam Radseresh: Whenever we go out for lunch, dinner, or drinks we’d always just joke about band names. We have a whole list of joke band names. It’s a way to keep the energy and creativity rolling. We like to speak in a free, stream of consciousness type conversation. So the name came out of a random conversation we were having somewhere…walking somewhere I believe.
Labeling Men: To let it come naturally is the best way. Where did these awesome, matching silver jackets come from? Is it a play off your name?
Sam Radseresh: Originally we had silver space suits that we got from “Spirit of Halloween” online. We would walk around town wearing them just to see what it was like to be in those silver space suits. So we became kind of like a Times Square, traveling, free show because we had these giant moon boot platforms that were all sparkly. We were just two monsters with long hair walking around the streets. It became a bit obnoxious, but we love visually striking imagery, like love Noel Fielding and animations. So I think we wanted something that could connect us as a duo visually.
Labeling Men: Do you guys have a favorite lyric you’ve written?
Charlie Pinel: We have one track which we haven’t released yet that’s called “If I was your Boy,” which we wrote two years ago at a time when we were trying to shop our music as a songwriting duo. Then one day we had a meeting with a guy who was kind of aggressive. So there’s a lyric in the song that goes, “No room for a broken hearted dancer,” and it didn’t mean anything at the time, it was completely random because we were just trying to create an image and it slipped off the tongue. The guy started tripping out on it! So I guess I’m proud of it because this respected producer enjoyed one lyric of ours. It got him to turn a bit red in the face, so it was funny to see someone react that way.
Labeling Men: It’s a good story.
Sam Radseresh: We changed a lyric the other day. It use to be, “I never thought I could cry with the power of a million eyes,” and we changed it to, “I never thought I could fly with the power of a million highs.” I think we like that a bit more. We have a track tonight we’re going to preform that’s called “The Spirit of Falling,” that’s a newer song, not released yet and it’s about what it feels like to fall.
Charlie Pinel: Yeah, it’s a dance song and it’s really intense with all these harmonic shifts. I really love it. The lyric is, “You’re standing right next to me, just watch your step.” It doesn’t mean anything, but somehow it does. There’s something visceral about this song and that lyric at once just at that moment when the section and lyric comes. There’s something absurd yet cathartic about it that makes me laugh and I have a lot of fun performing it.
Sam Radseresh: That kind of stuff always makes us laugh. We like to laugh at bad things sometimes.
Charlie Pinel: It’s a way to lubricate the process.
Listen to Astronaughty's music here
Interview & Photos Nisim Frank and Gwen Leogrande