Robbie Guariglia is the front man of the Bushwick-based band Modern Whale, whose music has been described as too pop for indie, yet too indie for pop. I got the chance to talk to Robbie about where the band’s eclectic name came from, what he wants to convey with his music, the story behind the new single “Dead Wrong” and so much more. Keep reading to see what he had to say!
For those who might not have ever heard of y’all, can you give us a brief history of the band and how it culminated into what it is now?
Of course! In mid-2016, I had written songs that were initially just meant for me. I didn’t actually have any intention of releasing the material! What I mean by the songs just being for me is that creating the music was a personal release after losing my dad to cancer and also a bad breakup.
Where did the name Modern Whale come from?
I knew that I wanted to use an animal in the name, I was thinking something with the word wolf or even dog. I ended up with Whale, because they are magical giants. Attaching modern to whale was something that just felt right but purposely abstract.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey to listeners with their music. How would you describe your sound without using genre names? What kind of music do you produce?
I’m always genuinely unclear on how to convey what genre the music is [laughs]! Modern Whale was born with a rock n’ roll heart but also has touches of a contemporary pop vibe. The music that I make for Modern Whale is 100% what is within me; it’s not contrived at all and exists in my own natural creative bubble. My production work tends to also live in rock, pop and indie lanes.
Kind of going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?
My musical influences are groups like Phoenix and Led Zeppelin.
Let’s talk about the latest single, “Dead Wrong.” What inspired that song?
“Dead Wrong” was inspired by a relationship that I had been in. Simply put: our energies were magnetized towards one another, but our timing was not synchronized.
I always love hearing about the songwriting process so I was wondering if you guys could give me a glimpse into that, specifically what it was like for this song.
I wrote “Dead Wrong” with a long time friend and consistent writing partner, Scott Harris. Scott and I used an old Casio keyboard and the song sort of wrote itself once we locked in the keyboard line!
Was there any major changes to the song that happened once you guys got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
“Dead Wrong” didn’t actually change much from the day we wrote it. With this said, I did try some alternate production styles but ultimately stayed with the original direction. I think the major difference from day one to the final is that I changed the key to better suit my voice.
I know you’re aiming to get a new EP out sometime this year. Is it finalized enough yet where you know how many songs are on it and what people can expect from it?
Yes! Including “Dead Wrong”, the EP will be 5 songs! The songs seem to be the most cohesive material I’ve done thus far as an artist. For me I’ve discovered more about my voice and sound throughout this production/recording process.
Lastly, we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
I’m nerding out about meditation and going inward. Too heavy? [laughs]