Concert review and interview: Miike Snow at the Brixton AcademyCultureLive musicMusic
With Miike Snow being comprised of two producers and a singer, their live performance could have easily been a rather stoic or flat affair. It’s often the case in this sort of set up that producers are stuck behind a bank of keyboards and the singer ends up looking stranded at the front of the stage. Their show in London could not have been further away from this. The “Blob” took center stage. A nine-foot modular complex of keyboards and synthesisers emblazoned with Miike Snow’s signature jackalope. The crowd reached fever pitch as the band dragged out an extended intro to Enter The Joker’s Lair and the place exploded as they moved into a heavily modified and “dancier” than normal version of The Wave.
Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg were jumping from drum to keyboard with a manic energy while lead singer Andrew Wyatt dominated the front of the stage, managing to make the huge space seem small. While the singles, such as Sylvia and Burial were fantastically performed and had the fans singing and clapping along, some of the album tracks fell a little flat. Perhaps a better order for the set list would have prevented these peaks and troughs. However, some of Miike Snow’s catalogue of songs merely do not lend themselves to high energy performance and ended just sounding “nice” which in itself is no bad thing, but clashed with the more up-tempo numbers.
As Miike Snow left the stage, both the band and the crowd looked like they had given their all. They took to the stage for an encore amid a rapturous welcome back from the crowd. While Sans Soleil felt a little staid compared to the rest of the gig, Miike Snow brought down the house with a thunderous performance of Animal. The crowd went almost as berserk as the band during this mind blowing version of the song.
Overall, it was a great performance from the American-Swedish trio (and fourth touring musician). Possibly a bit more thought on the set list could have avoided some lulls in the energy of the band and the crowd. As the house lights were raised at the sold out Brixton Academy, the audience was abuzz with a show that was livelier than expected. The finale of Animal was a clear highlight and demonstrated that Andrew, Pontus and Christian are just as comfortable on stage as they are in the studio and have a real flair for showmanship.
Before their sold out show at the Brixton Academy, The Upcoming caught up with Miike Snow to talk touring, videos, their new label and the films of cult Japanese director Takashi.
You guys are touring pretty much flat out until September. Is touring something you like or more something that has to be done?
Pontus Winnberg: Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s not. It’s like anything in life.
Are there any countries you prefer touring?
Christian Karlsson: Well, of course it’s nice to change. But in the US it’s easier. The buses are nicer and you don’t have to cross any borders so it’s easier, you know.
P: Yeah, but if you tour the US for a while it’s nice to come back to Europe for a change because there is more variety in Europe between places.
C: It wouldn’t feel like a tour if you just played the same places every time, so it’s nice to have a change.
You guys are playing a lot of festivals this year. You announced on your Twitter account earlier today that you were excited to be playing Bestival. Is that a particular festival you’re looking forward to?
C: It’s one we haven’t played yet, but we’re looking forward to it.
Are there any that you’ve played that have a special place in your heart?
C: We like Melt, Coachella. Way out West in Gothenburg is great.
P: Melt festival in Berlin is great.
C: I just said that, man.
P: (Laughing) Yeah, okay. I like Way Out West in Gothenburg as well.
Do you prefer playing your own shows or festival crowds?
I was going to ask about remixes. You’ve just released The Wave EP with remixes by Brodinski, Style of Eye and Thomas Gold. You guys have remixed a lot of songs and you’ve had some huge DJs/producers remix your songs. Do you have any favourites?
C: There have been so many good ones. Most of them are done by friends and people we know. It’s hard to pick one.
Are there any you didn’t like?
C: Not from people we know. (Gives Pontus a knowing glance and laughs.)
I may be wrong, but is the extra I in Miike taken from Takashi Miike? (Cult Japanese director.)
C: We’re definitely fans of the spelling.
Not his films?
C: No, we are.
Which one is your favourite?
C: I like Audition.
Andrew Wyatt: I like Visitor Q. (He has been sitting silently in the corner saving his voice all interview up until this point.)
C: Yeah, that’s a good one.
A: 13 Assassins is really good as well.
You should check out his latest one, Hara-Kiri. It’s really good.
A: Ah, I’ll have to check that out man.
Ichi the Killer is my favourite.
C: Yeah, I love that one.
A: I can’t watch that one. That’s the one I just can’t watch, it’s too brutal.
C: Too much rape for you? (The whole room laughs.)
So, about your new videos for Paddling out and The Wave. Did you always plan to have a consistent narrative running through them? How involved with them were you?
P: We decided early on that we wanted to promote the more visual aspect, keep things thematic and we asked Andreas (Nilsson – The director of the videos for Paddling Out and The Wave), so that was pretty much our contribution.
Were Andreas and Marcus Soderline (the cinematographer on Miike Snow’s new videos) people you wanted to work with for a long time?
P: Yeah, we’ve known them both for a long time and we trusted Andreas to run the show.
The new videos are pretty graphic and maybe aren’t very “MTV friendly”. Did you decide to make a more adult and “out there” video because the way people are watching music videos has changed?
C: Is there even an MTV anymore? (Laughs)
P: The way we think of videos is not as promotional tools, but as an extension of the art. For a while it was that you had to have a video to just try and sell yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s going to be shown on a music channel on TV or the internet and YouTube. For us it’s part of our image.
So how are things going with your label Ingrid?
P: It’s going really well. We’re releasing Smile now and there’s going to be a bunch of releases this summer.
And yours? (Speaking to Andrew)
A: Mine is going to be out in the fall. Sometime in September.
P: We’re going to talk to Lykke Li and release an EP with her this summer.
Did you set up Ingrid to make it easier to work with friends and artists you like?
P: There are just so many different aspects to it. To have that control, it’s everything; you don’t have to wait for permission. The ideas we have and we help promote each other’s stuff. We’ll see how far we get and up to now it has just been fun.
Do you guys have any particular books you’re reading on this tour?
P: I’m reading a huge book. It’s by a Norwegian author, Knausgård. I’ve been reading it for about a month now. It’s really good, but I’m reading it so slowly. He’s really big in Scandinavia.
C: I don’t read.
C: I actually don’t read. (Laughs) I do like looking at pictures though.
Do you have a favourite tour picture then?
P: (Laughs) It’s probably best you don’t ask about that.
Photos: Victoria Erdelevskaya
For more tour dates visit Miike Snow’s official website.