Thu 8th Jul, 2010 in Features
Like a cool comet from a distant galaxy, Miike Snow came from nowhere and hit pretty much everywhere in 2009. Rather unfairly, the band, consisting of American multi-instrumentalist Andrew Wyatt and two Swedish men with mega-hard-to-pronounce names were tagged as ‘the next big thing’, despite the fact that all three of them had previously been huge forces in the music industry for over a decade.
“I wrote a bunch of songs [recently] for Daniel Merriweather,” Wyatt says offhand while walking through a shopping mall in downtown L.A. “We had a mutual friend, Mark Ronson.” Wyatt has lots of friends like this; as a producer, bass player, vocalist and all-round work-a-holic, he’s been in bands with Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen and Ke$ha’s key producer/songwriter) and remnants of Jeff Buckley’s studio outfit.
Miike Snow, it seems, are not a flash in the pan. Rather, they represent a long history of solid pop writing, now manifest in a run of hit singles including Animal, Burial and Silvia.
Miike Snow (which Wyatt definitively confirms is actually pronounced ‘Mike’) write songs in steps, and the tracks that made it onto their self-titled debut record “are the ones that actually got past step one. That’s a goal in itself, especially for Wyatt, who concedes the band “never really thought of this album as being our ‘main thing.’”
For an album that sounds surprisingly confident and developed, its members were, apparently, quite the opposite. “We weren’t working with too much time on our hands. We were doing it without much expectation about what would happen with it. We really didn’t think we’d be touring and stuff!” Miike Snow are now heading to Australia for the first time to play Splendour in the Grass. Clearly their side-project dalliance is becoming more of a ‘main thing’ than they could have imagined.
Unlike his Swedish Miike Snow bros (more on them later), success has never really been a part of Wyatt’s dedication to music. “I don’t want to be on the cover of ‘Success’ magazine. You know, there’s no way to argue with that, you see it on a newsstand and say ‘Wow, that dude is successful!”
Take the band’s lead single, Animal: “I can’t say I wrote it expecting to become an anthem,” Wyatt smiles, “but it definitely had that kind of a vibe to it. It’s like…European, tribal music!” Wyatt’s big dream is to have ‘Animal’ turn into a pagan chant, “the kind of thing people scream out at soccer games. You know, like they do with that White Stripes song now. Do, do do-do-do duhhh, duhhh.”
For about two minutes here, Wyatt drops off the line and argues with about three different people. “I’m sorry, they’re trying to find my car,” he apologises, “This is a Los Angeles conundrum. You don’t have this in Australia, do you?” While he’s searching, let’s take a look at the other two members of Miike Snow, Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg.
These Swedes are super-producers, and trading as Bloodshy & Avant, they’re pretty much the hottest pop writers on the planet. They wrote Britney Spears’ chart-slaying Toxic. They made Rob Thomas a solo star with This Is How A Heart Breaks. So if you find it impossible to get Miike Snow’s tunes out of your head, there’s a damn good reason why. These guys specialise in earworms.
“Alright, they found it. Where were we?” It turns out Wyatt has a Swedish girlfriend. For a band mostly based over there, this happens to be ridiculously convenient. “Actually we met in New York through someone who had nothing to do with music at all. So it’s been a happy coincidence, because I spend a lot more time in Sweden now because she’s there as well.”
While they tour together, the band live spread across two continents. Not that they’ve had much down time anyway; since their rapid ascension as a musical force on the charts (and blogs in particular) Miike Snow have spent most of their time on the road. But don’t accuse them of inefficiency; they’ve already cut a new track with DJ to the stars, Stuart Price, called The Rabbit, which they debuted last week. “It’s on the new version of our album. The deluxe version. It was actually one of the first songs we wrote but then Stuart took it and did his thing. We heard and we really liked it, so it’s coming out as a single. But you know, the powers that be also heard it and thought it would be a Really Big Song for the radio.”
Miike Snow and the powers that be have an interesting relationship. They’re one of the most popular bands on RCRDLBL, an alternative, legitimate source of online music for fans that often includes free downloads. “It’s really pointless to try and stop people getting your music for free,” Wyatt says, “But by the same token, you should really give people new ways that they can buy your music. We’re a band who’s done a lot of touring, and our record appears to be well-known despite not selling many [units] at all!”
Miike Snow has no problem consolidating their online influence in any case. The band’s remixes of bands like Passion Pit and Vampire Weekend ensures they’ll be on high rotation for a long while yet, even if it’s not in CD form. As their popularity continues to soar, hopefully Wyatt will somehow find a way not to lose his car. “Man,” he laughs, signing off “I really should have stayed in Sweden.”