Let’s play ball. If “you” are society, and “I” am your reaction, then Miike Snow is the name of the game. So,throw me your best pitch. I won’t swing but I’ll play by your rules. I will play, but I won’t “play.” You can mimic my stance but ask me what this means, and I’ll punch you because you’re not trying to understand, you’re hoping to capitalize. Throw me your change-up, a screw ball, or a knuckle ball, and let it glide right down the box. I’ll play the game. Just change your pitch because you keep asking the same questions. Your interview sucked. Sorry. “What does this song mean?” or “How did you guys meet?” Just stop pitching dumb questions, because I won’t swing.
Baseball is a metaphor, but I’m being straight-forward. I can feed you a jackaloupe with a gold chain and you can gobble it up, but you were what was for dinner. You’re confused. I know. Most journalists, besides some, haven’t done their research. With so many opinions available, it’s ironic that the same ten questions are asked. If their is no originality, no true editorial voice, than maybe SFCritic’s conversation with lead singer Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow will help.
SFCritic (SFC): What interview am I for the afternoon?
Andrew Wyatt (AW): You’re number six.
SFC: Are you doing okay?
AW: I’m okay. Keep you’re questions fresh. Have you read anything about Miike Snow yet, or are we going to go through the jackaloupe, why were called Miike Snow, and how we met?
SFC: No. No, I’m a little more in-depth than that. Maybe we can start off talking about the worst of the last five interviews. Was there a moment where you were dumbfounded by the questions an interviewer was asking you?
AW: There was one, I can’t name the website, but I just had to turn off my brain for the whole thing and answer in some of the shortest questions I could.
SFC: I’ve read some of your interviews, and the questions you’re asked are stupid. The only interview I’ve seen with you that was interesting was with Interview Magazine.
AW: That’s funny. That’s what I was going to invoke right now. It’s the only one that was a discussion with an intelligent person.
SFC: I hope to continue that.
AW: I hope so too. [laughs]
SFC: I made a lot of questions from that interview, so that will be a starting point for where this will go. In that interview, you talked about how Dadaism reflects favorably on the concept of Miike Snow. Is this true? Do you consider yourself a Dadaist?
AW: That whole movement started as a rebelliousness against the overwrought culture of the time, of how to think about things, interpretively with regards to art. Marcel Duchamp’s urinelle piece was kind of a fuck you to everybody. I think there are some aspects of that that we’re doing.
We’re doing something that is gaudy, bright, shimmery, and the vocals are loud at a time, when it’s really the cool thing to have shit loads of delay on everything and sound psych-avaunt-insightful. I think there is a part of us that is an alternative to that by not having our lyrics be that hard or super coded. I think that there is a certain aspect of being fed up with the faddishness.
We very rarely do things twice. I don’t think we started any songs that we didn’t finish. The name of the band came up from an email that was the first thing we read when we were thinking of a band name, and kind of balked at the idea of trying to come up with a cool band name. Miike Snow sent us an email, and we thought it was funny and that just became our band name. The jackaloupe, we asked Christian’s tattoo artist to come up with a symbol for our band, and that was the first thing she gave us and we really liked it.
That’s been the process with this whole thing, we haven’t though really thought too hard about things, or second guessed ourselves. What were making might very well suck, we don’t know, but we’re just doing it.
SFC: It’s interesting because there seems to be two parts to that. On the one hand by not caring you’re accepting one style, but by adhering to that firmly you’re also doing the opposite by giving a shit to not give a shit.
AW: Yeah, you can follow that conundrum to the point where you don’t do anything. Once this had a particular trajectory over the course, we’re going to see that through to the logical conclusion. To do otherwise, you might as well just sit back and talk shit about other bands or decide to make something.
SFC: That’s where Dadaism leads kind of towards nihilism. I guess I didn’t really understand how Dadaism translates into music.
AW: We don’t care if it sounds ridiculous. We like to be ridiculous. Which is the kind of the short-hand definition of Dadaism. I just said it that one time in an interview because it came to mind. I don’t necessarily stand by Dadaism as a movement. I don’t know much about it to be honest.
SFC: Not a problem, you finished the question by answering it that way. It does seem though in your photographs with you’re drawn on tongues, the jackaloupe, and your sarcastic interviews, they all seem mocking of the press and our norms of how we do publicity. Am I wrong?
AW: Yeah. Although it could be completely seriously. At this point, anybody can get publicity. The blogosphere, the world that we have been living up until this point, is so democratic that there are a million bloggers, with a million points of views. This is an aimless time. You could do a straight photo shoot or you could do the most absurd, disrespectful, for lack of a better word, it’s all kind of the same thing. It feels more lost now, or for that matter comfortable, because there is no way up now, the compass is totally skewed now.
SFC: What do you mean?
AW: There is no editorial point of view. It doesn’t exist. There is no valid one that I’ve been able to see or defend. All the things that people come to hallow, or indicators of culture, have sort of really disappointed me. What has taken their place, this myriad of other, kids basically, with different things to say about new music, which is coming up on the blogosphere, of which there are literally tens of thousands.
We’re not in this period of time when in the art world you had ARTforum, and a few publications that you could count on being barometers of popular artistic culture. Similarly, we had magazine like Rolling Stone in 1970s, which was somewhat of a thoughtful paper with a point of view. Now, I don’t think we have one really. Everybody has their own point of view, nobody can really sway the clock of culture as it used to be.
SFC: Are there definitive points that you can think of that have lead you to these conclusions? Obviously, blogs, and the expansion of blogs, but is it MTV?
AW: Yeah, what is MTV doing now? They’re doing all these TV shows. Rolling Stone will do anything that sells magazines. Pitchfork is pretty much the same thing. I think they had at one point more an editorial point of view than they do now, but now they’re so predictable in their point of view that they’re pandering to their audience, which is not exciting.
The great waves that defined the topography of art have been wiped away. Now there is never anything more than what can be described as a micro-movement. There’s a final tenacity in style that is going on, and each of those styles is co-opted so quickly and hybridized, and acquired so quickly, that there is no compelling back-story that can be ascribed to any of them.
SFC: I was discussing a very similar topic with Emily Haines of Metric a few weeks ago, and she made this comment that you might look back at the Rolling Stones as “the real rock,” but then you ask somebody from the days of the Rolling Stones and they’ll say to you, “no this isn’t real rock, this is blues,” and then blues is the “real stuff.” This whole paradigm continues to repeat itself.
AW: That’s true, but there is such a thing as economy of scale. What’s happening now is the scale that we’re seeing of bands, I don’t think it’s going to be possible when writing a book, a hardcover book, like a print cover, coffee table type of book, to document any type of satisfactory narrative like “our times in music.” You could probably do something about the Williamsburg scene, and then you could actually tell a story.
SFC: I think what the story would be would be about the co-optation of music that was once vibrant that became publicized and diluted.
AW: That’s always been the case. What I’m talking about is about the speed of the internet. In other words, before Ariel Pink could even get to the place that he could be recognized for what he did, (and I do think that he was an innovator, and he’s a person that’s inspiring to me, even though my music sounds absolutely nothing like him I find him an aspiring person)–by the time his name got out there to most people at the point where he could make a living off what he does, 14,000 bands sounded just like him. The same thing was not true for David Bowie when he made Low. By going to Berlin, and hearing a lot of music, and coming out and doing the album that would be Station to Station, or Berlin Trilogy, by the time he had made those records he was being significantly rewarded for what he was doing. I don’t think that’s case now a days. To me it’s because of the internet that everyone’s attention gets fragmented. I think a lot of people’s contributions are overlooked.
SFC: I understand. I don’t know if it’s a sign of me getting older–I’m a part of those 10,000, bloggers–but it’s exhausting that I have to find new music for people to consume and I can’t just focus on what I really enjoy.
AW: That’s what I’m saying, that’s exactly what I’m saying. The attention span is so extremely fractured right now.
SFC: The only thing I can bring up on that point because magazines don’t pay to be a rock journalist.
AW: Exactly. There are certain that don’t get developed further. On the other hand, the standard of living, even though the top percentage are vastly wealthier than other people, the standard of living is high enough that people can have a garage band and fuck around with it. I think a lot of people are being creative, but in a sense it’s democratize creativity. I think that has very good qualities to it, and negative qualities.
SFC: On the other hand, playing the devil’s advocate, you do have an authority figure in the case of somebody like Perez Hilton.
AW: Who am I to say. This is a person that probably hasn’t devoted as much time as I have to learning about music. They’re businessmen more.
SFC: Completely. In the instances that we as journalists have focused our attention on one band for an extended period time, it’s a select few of Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Jay-Z and the redundancy of the same people over the last ten years.
AW: Well it’s because co-optation, and people who know how to formulate bonds with corporations. I do think while Lady Gaga hasn’t pushed the boundaries of music, musically, she seems to be ambitious and plucky that she will in her own way, the same way that Madonna did, and there will always be those people.
I feel like right now they have been much more influenced by the structures outside the creative realm, so to speak. They’re being much more influenced by market factors than by intellectual, not intellectual, even sensual factors. Really aesthetic endeavors. Really instinctual. Although making money is very instinctual. It is in our capitalist system. Basically, the upshot will be that Miike Snow will be making our albums from private islands in the Bahamas.
SFC: That would be good. I thought the best way Miike Snow would succeed later on would be by putting together songs with a single word submitted from every blogger.
AW: That’s how we should do it, that’s a good idea. That’s a really good idea.
SFC: I do think, as we try and end on a optimistic note, I think there are more bands that have been successful through viral marketing, through creating their own marketing team, obviously once they make enough money that they have the resources, but nonetheless–it’s a sign that people like Miike Snow or Metric can continue to push the boundaries by doing something like that and being free of a major label’s influence.
AW: Of course. As always whenever the climate changes, the responsibility is on the individual to adapt and make something work. You have to be resourceful to create, and that’s part of the deal. As I said, you have to come visit us for catamaran races on the island.
SFC: Yeah, I’m down. We’ll sit back and have a pina colada.
AW: And have a bonfire.