“Itâ€™s a comfortable time for making music … which is good because it encourages a lot of different people to express a lot of different points of view.”
TheMusic.FM was fortunate to get the chance to chat with Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow this week. The busy man and band just kicked ass at SXSW, played three sold-out shows in NYC, and have a long road ahead with plenty of touring and festival stops. We highly recommend that you catch them when they come to a city near you.
We caught your performance at the Bowery Ballroom (our review here) and thought it was a great show. After selling out Music Hall of Williamsburg, Webster Hall, and the Bowery Ballroom and announcing a date at Terminal 5, how do you feel about the rise in popularity?
Andrew Wyatt: Every time you make something, in particular this case, we didnâ€™t have terribly high hopes for it. Itâ€™s just one of those things, I guess. We try to interpret it as a phenomenon and not take it personally.
So now the mask has come off, have you noticed a difference in the interaction between yourself and the music and the fans with the music?
AW: I still think that given who we are and what we like to do, I think what we like to do as a unit, the three of us. I think we would still prefer to maintain the focus on some kind fantasy rather than something real; a personal mythology. With us, I would much rather, and every single person in the band would rather, create something fantastical. I still donâ€™t think our faces per se are super important to the music.
I can see that, considering that it seems like, with the music, there is this deconstruction of pop.Â You have the veneer, shine and production to it but there is something more to it. It sort of disassembles the components of it and makes it modern.Â Do you have a certain thought process or a philosophy going into creating music?
AW: I think because all three of us have long histories in music and have been in a lot of different kinds of situations with regard to making music, we have a lot of different types of music floating around in there. Once youâ€™re in the process of making music, it doesnâ€™t behoove you to stop and figure out where it comes from and where itâ€™s going together in a way thatâ€™s traditional or that sounds â€śrightâ€ť to the ear.Â So I think some of it might sounds a little bit wrong to the ear which is, in my opinion, is a good thing as long as you can say something consonantly.
What does saying something consonantly mean to you and do you think that kind of example has lost its way in modern music?
AW: No, I think there are lots of examples and people. I think one of the things that is going on right now thatâ€™s great is that the fact that itâ€™s very easy to get your hands on the technology to make a song, has given a lot of people the courage to do it.Â We have lots and lots of different people doing it and it has its plusses and minuses. I donâ€™t think there is a shortfall of people expressing themselves right now.
Talking about pitfalls, I remember reading one of your interviews where you said one of the pitfalls is a sort of a “micro” aspect to everything–that there is no longer a larger picture, be it in a particular music genre or even journalism. Do you see any other pitfalls in this new way of approaching music?
AW: I think I know what interview you are referring to and I read that interview and I do feel that it came off–although that was not my intention–I feel like that it came off sounding like I was saying all of this was a bad thing. Thereâ€™s one part in that interview that itâ€™s comfortable. You know? Itâ€™s a comfortable time for making music, in a sense, which is good because it encourages a lot of different people to express a lot of different points of view.
The one thing that I think that isnâ€™t necessarily so good is that, somehow, when there are so many different bands that are in your conscious mind the emotional impact of any particular band gets reduced.
So maybe in a sense the catharsis of it, like looking at literature or any movement when creating art there is a great capsule of work but now with this huge array maybe things get minimized?
AW: I wouldnâ€™t be able to say specific numbers but I feel like if you compare the number of publications that are published every year, for example if you are taking the example of literary fiction. The numbers from 1960s to the numbers now, I donâ€™t think that you would see as great a rise in the number of published works of fiction as you have seen in the number of bands that are released in some way or another, whether it be it DIY or not because of the internet. I think it has disproportionately made the accessibility of music great.Â All those things have plusses and minuses.
The one thing that is kind of a minus, in the artist perspective I think, is that itâ€™s reduced music making to the sort of hobby level that almost everyone does. Because of that and because of the fracturing of the attention span, I think it has made it harder for talented visionary artists to make a living from it. Because there is a certain threshold that you are talking about that is real and substantive threshold of attention span that will allow people to be able to make a living from what they are doing. All of their resourcefulness aside, I guess people always find a way, but it seems like back in the days of the 70â€™s for example, you either could make a living from doing music and you did it or you couldnâ€™t and you didnâ€™t or you did it really as a hobby in your own basement.
Now there are so many different echelons of exposure.Â Thereâ€™s the kid playing his Garage Band creation for his sister on the computer, you have school interfaces and networking. The only thing about the internet is that once something goes into this world itâ€™s available worldwide. I think thatâ€™s what weâ€™re seeing and thatâ€™s whatâ€™s sort of diluting the attention span. But itâ€™s making a lot people encouraged to make things. Weâ€™re probably going to see an emergence of certain types of artists that we wouldnâ€™t have been able to see before.
Maybe someone who was too shy to get the attention of a major label or even an independent label or maybe even the emergence of people who were too shy to get into a scene like the DC hardcore scene, although that music could hardly be seen as shy, but I think some of the auteurs of that genre were shy. It has to do with peopleâ€™s level of comfort and I think that the Internet has given people a certain level of comfort, and also the means of production available on computers has given people a level of comfort with regard to making music that will produce new types of art. Thatâ€™s something to be excited about.
I see what you mean because you have artists like Ariel Pink, or a person like James Murphy who is a historian of sorts and lets his knowledge be known and influence his songs. But maybe what gets misappropriated of sorts is this digestion period of music, where you donâ€™t have time to process or evaluate a context.
AW: Exactly. You hear about cold wave music or industrial music and you start getting into Cabaret Voltaire and youâ€™re thrown A.R. Kane and all these over bands that emerge now so readily that you donâ€™t have time to focus on one.
Do you feel there is pressure on you to create a new album? It seemed odd to announce the Terminal 5 show in October now, any hints on that?
AW: I donâ€™t think weâ€™ll be done with by then, we may be done with it by then but it wonâ€™t come out until the holidays or shortly after that.
You played a new song â€śRabbitâ€ť at the Bowery Ballroom and dedicated it to Mark Linkous, is it a relatively new song or has it been in the works for awhile?
AW: Itâ€™s the one song we had that we didnâ€™t release and it will be released soon so we decided to incorporate it into the set. We try all the songs and we donâ€™t play all the songs we got but we play the ones that work best.Â As time goes on we subtract and add certain songs.
Your live shows have an organic feel to them due in part to the older technology. Are you thinking of trying things you wanted to do in this new album that you couldnâ€™t do in the debut? Now, there has already been a discovery process and a committed relationship to the music and to each other. How do you see your music evolving with that?
AW: Weâ€™re looking at vastly different picture now from when we did our first album, isnâ€™t it? I mean, we did our first album really kind of as a very speculative endeavor. Every album is in a sense, but in terms of the demands on our time and the way that it would shape our future lives, we didnâ€™t have expectations for it at all.
Now we are in a situation where no matter what album we make we have a certain number of people that are going to give it a listen; give it a good listen. I think we have played for hundreds of thousands of people at this point, you know, and so thereâ€™s going to be a lot of people out there who really will be listening to what we do and we probably will be in a position of contractual obligation to go out and play those songs for people. We have a different topography in terms of why weâ€™re doing this and we also have a totally different process in regards to making songs.
When we did the first album we were all coming from the position of being producers for other people and now, in the last couple of years, we havenâ€™t really done much of that at all and being in a position of privilege where all we have to do is concentrate on making the kinds of songs that we want to make and presenting them in the way that we want to present them. It definitely has changed our process as well. The context has changed and the process has changed, it is definitely an interesting thing to happen??(18:14)
What do you think is the biggest change between being a producer to being a musician? What I liked about the debut was that you had your voice, in a literal and figurative sense.
AW: Well, I think that we all had a chance to explore things that we havenâ€™t had the time in our former careers. Whether it is reading certain dimensions or checking out music that we wouldnâ€™t have checked out before simply because of time constraints. Also technical dimensions to the music which when you are working as a producer time is a factor, I mean time is always a factor but at different proportions when you are working for someone else. Particularly like Christian and Pontus, who are working for people who have very very constrained schedules, for example, Kylie Minogue or something, she can only come to the studio for one day so itâ€™s not like you have all the time in the world.
In this situation, when we did the first album as well, because we didnâ€™t know, we didnâ€™t see it as that serious of a thing we didnâ€™t carve out vast amounts of our time to do it. Now that it is our main focus, we have time to implement certain technical things that we didnâ€™t in the past and use certain instruments that we didnâ€™t have.
We didnâ€™t put the time and effort in before. I think the process has definitely deepened in a lot of different ways for all of us.
Â Coming from SXSW and your upcoming schedule includes a lot of festivals. What is your outlook on playing festivals?
AW: I donâ€™t really consider the strategic aspect of it when Iâ€™m doing the festival, Iâ€™m more just sort of enjoying the fact that I get to express myself in the presence of a lot of people that maybe had an influence on me. Itâ€™s like a dialogue that takes place. Like going to Coachella is like going to Art Basel in a sense. You get one personâ€™s idea of a comprehensive view of whatâ€™s going on in contemporary music and then you also get some of the people who formulated our ideas about contemporary music playing as well. I think you have the old masters and new people coming up, some of whom will get the privilege of becoming the revered makers of music.
Itâ€™s like when you are at Art Basel, you always have the Gagosian Stand in the middle of the convention hall where you have the Basquiatâ€™s and you make sure to set your barometer towards what you actually thing is good. So I think itâ€™s similar.
In a sense festivals are a time capsule or even a contextual breakdown of music. You have older bands like Roger Waters playing and itâ€™s interesting to see where he fits in modern music. Are you more of a spectator? Have you checked out the lineups?
AW: I havenâ€™t actually looked at the festival rosters. The only people I am aware of that are playing the same day as us are Pavement, Sly and the Family Stone which is interesting, and Thom Yorke. I havenâ€™t seen Sly and the Family Stone I guess they played a few years ago, they did a small tour but I havenâ€™t seen them.
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