Phoenix, AZ musician Travis James (a/k/a “TJ”) is the ringleader of the eclectic and snarky trio Travis James & The Acrimonious Assembly of Arsonists, but he’s attracting more musical attention lately with his ex-girlfriend, Alaynha Gabrielle (a/k/a “A”), a pianist and singer with a background in theater. Their duo, Couples Fight, transforms the most ordinary of significant-other arguments into stupidly catchy, acutely ‘80s synthpop songs. Their first digital single—“Whatever You Want,” a rehash of that one singularly annoying back-and-forth about where to go for dinner that we’ve all been in about a million times—was released just this past December, and their debut E.P. showed up on Bandcamp less than a week ago. But despite their practically neonatal status as a band, they’ve already been featured on the cover of the Phoenix New Times’ bands to watch in 2016 issue.
A & TJ have successfully turned a pretty loathsome universal experience into a really fun E.P., which we’ve embedded for streaming below. A & TJ were kind enough to give DM some of their time to jointly answer some questions:
Dangerous Minds: What sparked the idea of transcribing arguments into lyrics? Since you two are exes, it’s tempting to wonder if this wound up being a creative expression of your own actual breakup.
Couples Fight: The arguments featured on the E.P. are actually things we never really fought about, so the cliché problems other couples fight about inspired us to make songs that make fun. The title “Breaking Up” has kind of a personal element to it since we were technically together when the project started, but the details of our split would be a bit more complex to put to song, haha.
DM: You could have done any kind of music, why dancey synth-punk? What’s the actual process of making a Couples Fight song happen?
Couples Fight: Electronic music spares us the hassle of having to try to get along with actual people, cus if we had other permanent band members, we’d probably either date’m or hate’m, the former often leading to the latter. Also, not playing instruments frees us up to make a more engaging stage production with props and fun stuff to make the fun music even funner. The writing process is basically just brainstorms and back-and-forths; we mutually pitch ideas to each other both conceptually and musically.
DM: How long does this stay funny, do you think? Given that you’ve only released a handful of songs so far, there are obviously plenty of untapped topics left to lampoon. Does this project have a known shelf life, or does it go on indefinitely until you’ve had your last musical argument and you break up again?
Couples Fight: I think a good argument for the staying-power of this project’s concept is the overwhelming abundance of songs about love and relationships that have permeated popular music since forever. The history of pop and punk music alike undeniably demonstrates that there is no shortage of interest in or innovation for songs about interpersonal relationships and their complexity.
DM: What’s next? More recordings, gigs, any touring? Today Greater Phoenix, tomorrow the world?
Couples Fight: In the coming year, we want to begin working on a full-length that explores a bit more dark and less cute content and get a bit experimental in ways that don’t ruin the original approach like most idiot bands do when they say “experimental.” We’ll eventually tour, and keep going until every heart is broken!
More after the jump…