Sunday, 24 May 2015

Artist Spotlight: Strange & Primitive

I caught up with Canadian Duo Strange & Primitive this week for an exclusive interview to feature on this blog. I came across Strange & Primitive one day whilst looking for new artists on Twitter, I wasn't entirely sure what to think of them at first but soon became addicted. They are only at the very beginning of their career in music as Strange & Primitive but have released a handful of songs under their previous name Audiograft. It’s definitely worth having a look at their latest song ‘Eureka’, you can find the link below. I find this band increasingly interesting and they are definitely one to listen to if you are searching for something outside the ordinary.

For those who haven't heard your music before, who are Strange & Primitive?
Strange & Primitive is a Canadian musical duo comprised of Graham Fish and Jeff Musgrave. Jeff Musgrave performs all the vocals and all other writing, arranging, producing, and performing responsibilities are shared equally between Graham and Jeff. We aspire to a dynamic and cinematic style with a blend of earthy and synthetic textures.

How did you guys start out?
We met and shortly thereafter started recording together in 2007. Previously we were jamming in another band and found out we were on a similar aesthetic mission musically.  Early on we made amateur recordings above Jeff’s uncle’s garage where there was an upright piano. We both really loved the recording process and we pushed ourselves to learn a lot and improve with the goal of eventually having our own studio where we could achieve our full sonic vision.  Eventually, in 2011 we had completed our recording studio in Graham’s place in Guelph Ontario.  From there we recorded an instrumental album ‘Melody in the Half-Light’ under the name Audiograft and released it in 2012. The album was very much inspired by film structures and had weaving textures and melodies. We worked hard to create organic but surprising ways of transitioning. The next planned project was to be one with vocals (where Eureka would eventually come from) and as we started writing and putting it together we realised it was really very different from Audiograft so a name change was necessary and we became ‘Strange & Primitive’.

So where did the name Strange & Primitive come about?
The name is a reference to music being one of the oldest (primitive) ways of abstracting emotion (the strange). Previously we called ourselves Audiograft, and made instrumental music. Since the new music differs structurally from the old, we wanted to change the name despite the roster of the band remaining the same.

Where do you guys find your inspirations and how do you think those inspirations fit into your music?
We think musical influences can be detected in our structures, arrangements, production and approach to creating music but not necessarily melodically or lyrically. For example, while arranging for this album we listened to a lot of James Brown and made notes. His influence isn’t really felt though, since there’s no relation melodically or lyrically. Instead, we were more interested in his musical “call and answer” and playing “in the pocket”. We also look a lot to cinema for structural inspiration. This was more apparent with our instrumental work but it’s still something at the back of our minds. It’s always been the goal to make a record that we’d want to hear that’s not yet on our shelf.
Where do you see yourselves fitting into the modern music scene?
I think we’re an example of the modern band that’s doing a lot of stuff themselves.  The new musician will need knowledge of their craft but also knowledge of the recording studio, marketing process, and business practice. They’ll also need to know when and where to get help. On this record, the only task we didn’t perform was mastering, which we left to the professionalism and unmatched experience of Bob Katz.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Well we've really just started our career though completing our studio in Guelph and achieving that artistic freedom felt pretty great.

What does the future hold for Strange & Primitive?
We have at least two more singles coming out and our self-titled debut album is due out in late August. We’re also working on some more video content that will go up on our YouTube channel. The plan is to post full length music videos and live studio performances there.

Where can people hear more of you? 
We’d encourage everyone to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos. Also follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook  for news and check out our Bandcamp page for more music including our previous project, Audiograft ( Our website is:

What was the inspiration behind your new song Eureka?
We talked a lot during lunch breaks while working in the recording studio, about technology, artificial intelligence and cybernetics. We talk about other subjects of course but for whatever reason during these sessions we were really on about subjects of the science fiction variety. This got us talking about limitations (of communication, understanding, love etc), which ended up being one of the themes we were originally playing with for our first album under the Strange & Primitive name. These themes still sort of hide out in little ways on each track but the limitation theme is still very strong with ‘Eureka’.

Lyrically we are touching on some of the paranoia and anxiety that naturally comes from the unknown. Musically the song attempts to capture an anxious rush to answer life’s questions. The song deals with the chance that our endless curiosity is matched with endless possible understanding. There’s a frustration with the inability to understand and articulate information to each other and also a frustration with technology being an unsatisfactory tool for communication. Those frustrations are present in the song. The chorus is meant as a realization that our problems communicating and understanding are getting more complicated and less in our control.

I’m a big fan of Strange & Primitive and really enjoyed their early instrumental songs under Audiograft. I think this is really a band that is going to explode onto the scene once their album drops in August. Be sure to keep your eyes out for them. I would love to hear your feedback on this band. Positive or negative, leave a comment below.

Photography by Crestina Martins

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