Brooklyn is one of the most happening spots in the US for independent music. Antagonista is the borough’s latest export, and nothing – not even a worldwide pandemic – could slow down their creative output. Their latest output is the innovative and expressive “Indigenous Geometry” video (premiered on Second Society Report in January).
VENTS Magazine recently had the opportunity to interview Antagonista’s lead singer Sean Davenport, which you can read below.
VENTS MAGAZINE: How have your Brooklyn roots shaped your band’s music and sound?
Sean Davenport: Brooklyn demands a certain immediacy from its residents—an almost masochistic acquiescence—and that sheer force of external pressure mixes with, and filters through, some of the most remarkable humans on the planet. It’s momentum meets vibrancy, and it can’t help but work itself into everything you do here.
VENTS: How and when did the members of Antagonista join forces to make music?
SD: It was either South Dakota, or possibly Wyoming, when the idea first started coming together. Mikey and I, along with my wife, Rayna, and our dog Stark, were moving to Brooklyn from San Diego, and decided to take the scenic route. We had been playing together in bands for a while in Southern California, but it was time for a change. Our first record, …and the Mythos of Stranded Truth (2018), was written by the two of us, and eventually recorded back in San Diego at CHAOS RECORDERS (*thanks Dessa Kirk!) with wunderkind Christopher Hoffee, and one track recorded here in Brooklyn by Omer Leibovitz, at his studio in Bushwick . Our friend, and former bandmate Andrew Armerding graciously recorded all the bass for us. Almost as soon as we got back to NY, we met Andrea, who happened to be renting the room next to ours in the basement labyrinth that is DUMBO, BK. We clicked instantly. As it turned out, Thursdays at five were open in his schedule, and that in itself is really enough for any NY band origin story.
VENTS: How has the group evolved and progressed over the years together, and how does it show in your music?
SD: The first album was written in the process of moving here, and, essentially, captures that transition both sonically and lyrically. That compound of urgency and abandonment found us with plenty of material on our hands, but not enough hands on deck, so-to-speak, to perform it live. Enter Andrea. With 2020’s “Salted-over Stardust”, just having Andrea in the room changed everything. His initial role grew from being a performer to writing, engineering, and producing. We were booking 7am sessions on Saturday mornings with the string quartet, and staying for midnight run-throughs of the horn arrangements. We released the album in March of 2020, and, much like the fever dream it evokes, we watched as the whole concept of the album blurred eerily into this new world in which we found ourselves. For “Indigenous Geometry”, however, and all the other songs from our upcoming album, a new approach was needed. Like every other ensemble in the world, the way forward shifted towards self-sufficiency…and maybe a tech update or two. There were a few songs that had already been in the works before COVID hit, but the rest we had to do in pieces. A lot of emails, zooms, and plenty of notes later, and…let’s just say we’re excited to get back into performing. The live show is really where we are home.
VENTS: What is “Indigenous Geometry” about, and what was your inspiration for this song?
SD: During the pandemic I was in a fortunate position to be quarantined with my wife, who is indigenous—Cree and Navajo—and this song is ultimately an ode to her, and her heritage, which should absolutely be celebrated. Whether it’s finding out more about her tribes, or the fact that her mother named her after an android character from Star Trek (which is undeniably cool). This is a love song for my wife, and a thank you for all the artwork and design she’s continued to do for us over the years.
VENTS: What was it like shooting the video for “Indigenous Geometry,” and what do you feel makes the visuals for the song special?
SD: This is our third video working with Cristian Motos (he directed 2017’s “Mythos pt 1”, and worked with AV guru Bernard Feinsod on 2018’s “Bad Medicine”), and it’s always an inspiring experience. His friendship and professionalism makes these endeavors effortless. It’s not too often you find someone who can so deftly translate what is heard into what is seen, and it was remarkable to see his visual interpretation of the song come to life.
VENTS: What is the message listeners and viewers should take away from “Indigenous Geometry”?
SD: Even in this time of isolation perhaps there is still a love story to tell. Frustration might be absolution. The resolve might have an endless turn. However, all signs point forward.