Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Mar 23rd 2010 9:00AM by Barnaby Smith
Miike Snow is primarily about creating a world that doesn't exist. We want it to have an 'invented' feel to it, like Manga. For those who don't know, Manga is the Japanese video publisher responsible for creating anime. I guess it's like Disney, sort of, only in Manga, ultra-violence, pornography, hallucination, and criminality are all explored alongside compassion and heroism. So it's a better, less morally restrictive palette for creating art. Many of the templates for heroism or taboo simply don't apply in Japanese culture. It poses the question -- why? Why does one reaction or pairing seem more 'acceptable' than another?
When we decided to form a new band, we had all been around either in other bands or producing and writing for others -- we weren't kids. But at the same time we felt we had something visceral to offer kids. Part of me kept thinking about Peter Gabriel. He's someone who has different oceans to travel; one very personal with very emotionally direct lyrics, one very experimental and reaching into the space where visual art and music converge, and then another capable of creating great populist waves. He also writes about things from the perspective of a grown-up -- he's morally responsible in his music. He's not a nihilistic hipster. A lot of New Wave bands that were around when Peter emerged as a solo artist were hipsters, but he breathed in New Wave and exhaled something scented by it but substantially different. I think we tried to make something that sounds original, although we are aware of a lot going on in music. We didn't see ourselves in a hipster category.
Richard T. James, man. He emerged at a time when drum 'n' bass and jungle were being appropriated by television ad composers. But James' music doesn't sound dated, and it's impossible to copy. His technique was so patient and highly idiosyncratic, whereas nearly every other electronic music act from the mid-to-late '90s sounds a bit dated to me from a production point of view ... even if sounds great, like Underworld. Aphex Twin put in the time and developed his own techniques, which is invaluable in making a record. I won't compare ourselves to Aphex Twin, but everyone in Miike Snow has spent some serious time coming up with their own way of making a recording. Trying to use different technical methods of making music can separate the music operationally and sonically from everything else that is going on in music at a particular time, and thereby prevent the music from being grouped with something that sounds very '00s, for example.
One of my favourite groups ever. What they made was discreetly musical, but also extremely strange. Take the bass line in 'Fearless (It Takes a Full Moon).' It sounds almost like something you would hear on a Stevie Wonder record -- dementedly funky but also literate; then on top of it there are scraping guitars straight out of 'Dub Housing' [Pere Ubu's second LP]. Wikipedia says Alan Rankine is teaching composition at a college in Scotland now, which makes sense. Billy Mackenzie sadly didn't make it out of the manic-depressive headspace that produced such great albums as 'Sulk' and 'Fourth Drawer Down,' and took his own life in 1997. But his voice still gives me such a thrill. I won't deny you the pleasure of knowing that Morrissey wrote 'William, It Was Really Nothing,' for Billy. Billy responded with 'Stephen, You're Really Something.'
Kate Bush was definitely from her own very beautiful stormy planet. She had a handle on the most cutting-edge technology available at the time she was making her first few albums. She was among the first to do an entire album on the Fairlight, an early sampler with big six-inch floppy disks. She wasn't afraid to be sparse and let each instrumental idea be heard. I think we have some of that, whether or not we were thinking about it. She has the ability to be totally tangential and totally mainstream at the same time.
His drums really knock in a tight way. In this respect he was a kind of a pioneer. If you listen to the drums on 'Step in the Arena' they have more impact than all of the blurry sampled drums other people were using at the time. This was later taken further by other producers who made a science out of the acoustics of drums on a record, but in the hip-hop era I think it starts with Premier. I guess a lot of people are influenced by him, knowingly or unknowingly.