The three members of Miike Snow are not new to the music industry, having all worked behind the scenes with some important people in today’s popular music scene. No wonder their writing session back in 2007 started something bigger than they had even anticipated. Now with two studio albums under their belts and their own label, they are more ready than ever to show the world what they are made of.
When the band was in Montreal a while back, I got to sit down and get to know them a little more. Here’s what they had to say.
CONFRONT: Can I have a little history about the band for people who may not know you?
ANDREW: Me and Christian met in 2004 in a studio in New York City and we kept in touch. In 2007, we started writing. I came to Sweden touring with another band and we talked about doing some songs together. So I came over for a week, we did four songs and then some people from the music business heard some songs we did after we did another trip. We had just started writing songs and we kind of thought it would be a band but we didn’t know if anything was going to happen with it. We didn’t think we were going to be playing live shows.
CONFRONT: Well that’s cool. And you guys have all been in the music industry for a while now, even before this band. Did you always know music was what you wanted to pursue?
ANDREW: I never had any other option.
CONFRONT: No plan B, nothing?
PONTUS: Maybe we want to add something later on in life, but it was never seen as some kind of career path that we were picking between.
CHRISTIAN: For me, it wasn’t even a plan A, it was just something that I was in.
CONFRONT: So it wasn’t really a conscious decision?
CHRISTIAN: Yeah! Me and Pontus, we’ve known each other since we were 15 so it was more like two people hanging out and just making music. It was just part of our lives.
CONFRONT: And actually, what did you listen to, growing up?
PONTUS: All kinds of stuff.
CONFRONT: Does any of it have an influence on your music now?
PONTUS: Yeah definitely!
CHRISTIAN: A lot!
PONTUS: There’s a lot of Kraftwerk and Depeche, stuff like that. There’s still some stuff that I listen to frequently like them that I’ve listened to since I was 10. So I think that lingers on and it affects the music and what we do.
CHRISTIAN: I’m kind of the same thing with Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode. I used to listen to them in my early days in music.
ANDREW: I actually grew up in a family where jazz music was played a lot. So I listened to a lot of John Coltrane, Steely Dan, Kinks, Simon and Garfunkel.
CONFRONT: That’s interesting! And do you think that influenced you in your writing?
ANDREW: Of course!
CONFRONT: And your album recently came out, how has the response been?
PONTUS: Good! It’s nice to see that when you’re out on the road. You can see more directly how people are responding to the new songs. Because otherwise, you throw an album out there and then what, you read blogs and comments? But to actually see people reaction to the songs and knowing the lyrics, it’s pretty cool.
CHRISTIAN: We also saw it grow on people. When we started touring, people didn’t know the new songs at all and now, you can see them singing along.
CONFRONT: That must be amazing! And how would you compare it to your debut album?
PONTUS: It’s kind of hard to compare. When we started, I remember one of the first shows we did somewhere in Southern California. It was just announced during the day and maybe a hundred people showed up and thirty of them knew the lyrics! And I was super psyched about that! But it’s kind of hard to compare; it’s just a different journey.
CONFRONT: Well you said that at the beginning, you didn’t know what the whole project was going to become. Now that you know that you’re popular and that you’re going to tour your album, has that changed the writing and recording process for you guys at all? Or did you work the same way as for the first one?
PONTUS: The thought that there are listeners out there waiting to hear your stuff kind of changes things but as far as writing, I don’t think it did so much. I think we are who we are and the actual writing process is still the same. More the thought of how to put together the album, maybe is a little different.
CONFRONT: And you guys have incorporated a lot of different sounds with all the woodwinds and the brass instruments this time, how was that experience?
ANDREW: The first record, we were just really economical on how we recorded it. We did it in a way that was very similar to some of the pop stuff that we do. We try to enter the studio and exit the studio with a complete song every day. In this process, since we knew we were making an album, I was in Sweden for six months straight this time so I don’t think we tried to finish the songs immediately or tried to limit the instrumentation of the songs to what was available to us in the studio. We envisioned something happening that involved calling a bunch of other players and we just scheduled the time to make it happen. This was different from the first album where we tried to complete everything with what we had in the room. So there are great things about both, I just think it’s cool that this album sounds a bit different than the first album but it still has our musicality.
CONFRONT: It’s great to have kind of an evolution throughout your albums. And where do you think you fit in today’s music scene?
PONTUS: It’s hard for us to answer, really. We’re sitting inside looking out.
CHRISTIAN: It’s also hard to grasp the music scene right now.
CONFRONT: That’s true. It’s kind of a big blur right now.
CONFRONT: Your latest singles, I read that they sort of come together to create a story with the music videos?
PONTUS: It’s not a narrative thing in a traditional sense but we started to discuss with the director, who we worked with on the last album as well, about the whole visual aspect of it. We started last summer about creating some kind of world that everything could have their origins kind of come from. It was on a fairly abstract level. And then we took some elements from that world and put them into a video idea. And you can see some kind of narrative thing going on between the videos and it’s a nice little piece of work in this imaginary world.
CONFRONT: Now I’m going to ask you my last question, which is to draw something that represents you.
[They did a group drawing.]
ANDREW: It’s got to be a whole, you can’t break it down into parts. And I wouldn’t describe it with words either because you want the image to do the talking.
To learn more about Miike Snow, check out these links!
Official site: http://www.miikesnow.com/
Photographs from Lili’s interview: