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Music Interview

Miike Snow interview: "We can do what we want now"

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Miike Snow
For those not in the know, Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg of indie pop trio Miike Snow cut their teeth producing hits for the likes of Kylie Minogue and Britney Spears under the pseudonym Bloodshy & Avant.

After teaming up with fellow musician and producer Andrew Wyatt, their 2009 eponymous debut became an underground hit and quickly earned them a cult following.

With their new album Happy To You out this week, we met up with the group to find out what fans can expect from the LP and what it's like working with some of the world's biggest artists.

Is London treating you well this week?
Andrew Wyatt: "British music has made such a huge impact on our lives. There are too many things to count that I like about London."
Christian Karlsson: "It's a very unique and special place, you feel it immediately when you're in London in a very good way. The ambition of people is actually very exciting."

The press release for your new album Happy To You describes the record as a response to your first. What does that mean?
Christian Karlsson: "We did do some things differently. What do you think is very different about it?"

There are a lot of new sounds in there. It seems a bit more... intricate?
Andrew Wyatt: "I think it's more layered. There are many different instrument layers that we went through on this one that took a lot of time. One thing we worked harder on this time was the editing. There were long, long nights of editing where we threw on so many different instruments and then we had to go through and pick where to put them in and out."

You last album was a big hit with critics; were you nervous following it up?
Andrew Wyatt: "We were psyched to go back to the studio after touring for quite some time so I never felt that kind of pressure. We'd been working in the studio and writing songs for a long time so it wasn't a dramatic thing. We're pretty self-sufficient in the studio so we can control the whole process by ourselves so that takes away a lot of pressure."

Are you ever not in the studio or on tour?
Christian Karlsson: "We had Christmas Day off, and Christmas Eve. So 36 hours."

What's going on in the music video for your latest track 'Paddling Out'?
Andrew Wyatt: "We really liked [director] Andreas's images and I think they go together in a way that feels truthful with what we do. As Stephen Colbert would say, truthiness will come out in different ways for different people. I think that's one of the strengths of his work because it matches our sound and you can read into it in different ways. The 'Paddling Out' clip is the first episode of more videos. We'll see, we don't really know exactly what's going to happen."

You've produced music for loads of artists, including Kylie Minogue and Britney Spears. Who have you enjoyed producing for most?
Pontus Winnberg: "Probably ourselves! We've just started this label with Lykke Li and a couple of other people. We've been working on pieces of music that will come out and we also have some albums coming out soon that are collaborations between members of this new collective that we've formed. The label is called Ingrid, on account of the actress Ingrid Bergman."

Miike Snow


How did that all come together?
Andrew Wyatt: "We were all hanging out at the same place in Stockholm and we all know each other and we're all in kind of the same situation - touring, producing and having our own studios. We felt like it would be a good idea to have this more formalised collective or a portal so that we can release things with control."
Pontus Winnberg: "It's an anything goes label. We're not trying to... it's not going to be genre specific like some labels are: it's genre non-specific. We just want to make sure that what we put out is really good."

Is working with bigger artists like Britney and Kylie more restrictive then?
"Sometimes you can work with an artist for a year or so and you end up in some kind of political situation where it never gets released which is kind of annoying."

Have you ever worked on what you consider to be a brilliant track for an artist and it's never seen the light of day?
Christian Karlsson: "It feels like there is so much work that we have put down that has never come out."

You've had a long working relationship with Britney's team; are you on board for her next album?
Pontus Winnberg: "We're so busy with Miike Snow now we haven't even had any time to think about that. When we started this band we knew we were going to have to close down on a job."
Andrew Wyatt: "We can do what we want now."

Are you aiming for commercial success with this album, or do you prefer being a cult favourite?
Andrew Wyatt: "As long as we believe in what we're doing it doesn't matter. If mainstream wants to adopt it, then that's fine. There are major advantages to remaining out of the radio for a long time before we have something that crosses into the mainstream properly."
Pontus Winnberg: "I think we're happy where we are. If we've learnt anything from being songwriters for other people is that you can't pick what's going to be a hit - it just happens or it doesn't. We can't orate that. And that's one of the nice things about Miike Snow."

Miike Snow's new album Happy To You is out now. Click here to win a Miike Snow goodie bag.

Watch the 'Paddling Out' music video below:

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