It’s not every day you pitch up to an interview and get offered a seat on a chaise lounge next to some giant gold teeth and wooden mushrooms, but then Miike Snow aren’t your typical band. Made up of three super-producers, Kristian and Pontus previously wrote ‘Toxic’ for Britney, and Andrew Wyatt has produced everyone from Carl Barat to Mark Ronson. Not that Miike Snow is going to boast about it. Far from the leather-clad rock bands that seemingly spend more time strutting and posing than writing actual songs, this Swedish trio prefers to keep it firmly about the music. Ahead of the new album ‘Happy To You’, El Hunt enters the weird and wonderful world of Miike Snow - complete with giant gold-plated dentures, leather trousers and jackalopes - to chat with the band.
I’ve been reading up about Jackalopes – the mythical rabbit with antlers that you use as your band symbol – and trusty Wikipedia tells me they’re pretty shy and mysterious. Would you say the same is true of Miike Snow?
Kristian: No, I think people say we’re mysterious, but we never really tried to be. Maybe we didn’t push a lot of pictures of us in the beginning, we had the jackalope instead – I guess we like them more than pictures of ourselves.
Do you think sometimes people can focus too much on the band rather than their music? Is that why you didn’t put pictures out at the very beginning?
K: Yeah, exactly, I think people often focus too much on the person
Pontus: It should be more about the music I think.
You’ve said before in other interviews that the jackalope is kind of like a Dadaist symbol, and it definitely reminds me of pieces like Dali’s Lobster Telephone. Were you influenced by Dada art at all on this record?
K: I don’t think we thought that much at all [laughs].
P: It all kind of happened pretty organically, and yeah, it’s pretty simple, we meet up in this studio, and whatever happens happens. That’s really important for us when we write.
I watched the music video for your single ‘Paddling Out’, and it seems to link into the ‘Devils Work’ video in an ongoing story. A lot of people are speculating about the man in the leather trousers, is there a back-story to him?
K: That Devil’s Work video is a snippet taken from one of our later videos, but yeah, we don’t know that much about the man. We know his name’s Shaun Owah. We couldn’t tell you more than that.
You’ve also got this guy who puts on some enchanted shoes and starts crazily dancing around to your music in the video. Is that your ideal response? Did you write this as a dance album?
K: I mean I think you can dance to it if you want [laughs] but I don’t think we ever put it specifically in those terms, like this is a ‘dance’ song or this one isn’t. You kind of reflect about it afterwards and ask these questions, but I never thought about it like that. But I mean, of course we do like dance music, so it’s definitely in there.
Before the band started out Kristian and Pontus used to write music for big pop names like Kylie, Britney and Kelis under the moniker ‘Bloodshy and Avant’. Would you say Miike Snow is still a pop band, or are you detached from that now?
K: No, I don’t think it has anything to do with Miike Snow, we came from bands in the beginning, and now we’re kind of back to where we came from. I mean, we were in the studio together when we did that stuff, but we didn’t have much to do with each other back then.
P: I think when you’re working for other people, you’re kind of just hired and not really in charge. They just tell you to “go to the studio, do this, do that” blah blah blah. Miike Snow is on our terms. We can decide when to go to the studio, what to do, whatever, it’s all up to us. So yeah, it’s a different thing, Bloodshy and Avant was a day job, but Miike Snow is more than that, it’s what we would be doing regardless.
Talking of doing your own thing, you’ve also set up your own record label called INGRID. Where are you going with that?
P: We’re releasing a..what would you call it..a collection of songs from all the members, it’s a double vinyl. It comes out in April.
Andrew: It’s kind of like a sampler from everyone involved in what we do, yeah, that will give people a better idea of what INGRID is all about.
[Swedish indie band] Peter, Bjorn and John are involved in that too – is collaborating with other artists something you try to do all the time?
K: Yeah definitely, we love working with our friends. We kind of live in the same area and have studios near each other, so yeah, it’s great.
You’ve done remixes for bands like Passion Pit and Vampire Weekend, but other artists also remix your music. How do you feel about giving your songs over to other people and giving them creative free reign on it?
K: We enjoy doing that, definitely, it’s great to hear someone else’s take on your music, and we have a lot of talented friends like I said. They enjoy remixing us and do it really well so yeah, I’m happy they want to rework our music.
Who would be your dream person to take your music and remix it? They can be alive or dead.
P: That’s a tricky one. To remix? Aphex [Twin] I think.
K: Yeah, that would be cool.
P: I think he’s alive too [laughs].
A: Has he ever done any remixing?
P: Yeah, I think he has, back in the day. Not recently though, although he’s supposed to be releasing something this fall. Also I think [German producer] Conny Plank would be cool if we can pick anyone. I don’t think he’s alive though.
So you’re off on tour after the album release…is it true you don’t use any electronics other than stuff you can play in real-time live? Why is that?
K: Yeah, that’s true, and we do it that way because it makes things more fun for us, that we can change the music arrangement. That’s what I think makes it live. I mean, if we think it feels more fun to play it makes for a better show – it’s more interesting to watch if you know that things can go wrong.
Do you mess around with the format of the songs live and change things around when you’re playing live?
P: Yeah, we have to!
A: When something goes wrong especially.
P: [laughs] yeah, that’s usually the reason why we do it, but sometimes it can be a lucky mistake that we then keep for some reason. Because something went wrong, a part might become longer because someone had to fix it. It gives us freedom to kind of roll with it.
So you continue the writing process all the time?
K: In a sense yes, I guess we do.
Do you ever find a song is finished, or are they still developing even now?
P: No, not when we play it live, I mean we might get bored of the old version, and then we do change certain aspects yeah, so they’re always developing.
What’s your favourite track off the new album? Can you pick one?
A: Hmm, well you know, there are just so many great ones to choose from [laughs] but yeah, seriously, it’s hard to pick, it’s like picking your favourite child or something.
P: Also it varies.
A: Yeah, one day you’ll listen to one and something sticks out to you, and you’re like “oh that is by far the best song on the record”, and then three months later you’ll hear it somewhere and you’ll think “what was I thinking?!”.
What’s next for you guys then, what are you doing after the album?
K: Touring for a while
A: Probably for the next year or so.
Miike Snow’s new album ‘Happy To You’ will be released on 26th March.