Micachu interview I did for Gigwise.
Micachu is perhaps the consummate post post pop phenomenon. Young, intelligent, attuned, intuitive, hyper aware and hyper exposed she has sucked in influences like a hungry void and re-emitted them coughing, spluttering and shiny new. Her songs shudder, stop and start, loaded with wide eyed ideas and idealistic innocence. The concept of a boundary is ignored to the point of total irrelevance, laughed at, tripped over and then sung about. Her youthful exuberance and ad hoc ability to move, manipulate and utiluse technology as willingly as her trusty, battered pawn shop acoustic has spawned unique day glow, junk hop, rubbish pop nuggets of sheer glee that have seen fans as diverse as Bat For Lashes and Saul Williams queueing up to ardently tip their hats and pledge allegiance. None more so than the rennaisance man of beat and string juxtopistion himself: Mathew Herbert who jumped at the chance to record the 21 year olds album in his home studio.
While Micachu now shares billing with friends Marc Pell (drums) and Raisa Khan (keys and electronics) who form her backing band, The Shapes, Micachu’s music remains very much her own singular, skewed vision and equally very much in the lineage offbeat pop musicians from The Silver Apples, to Beefheart to Bjork (another fan). In terms of contemporaries you are probably better off looking towards the wonky sounds of Rustie than the lazy Mike Skinner comparisons that seem to currently be chucked around. Latest single ‘Golden Phone’ (available now, Accidental Records) is as good place as any to enter into Micachu’s weird world of strums, beats and err… hoovers.
How are you today?
Micachu: Good, it’s really nice, nice weather. How are you?
Pretty tired. I feel bad. You look really uncomfortable. How much do you hate interviews on a scale of 1-10?
Micachu: 10? It’s not one of those things where it’s like, “are we lucky we have them?”, they’re pretty um, you just can’t do them right, if you know what I mean.
How long ago did you make the decision to go from just you on your own to playing with a band?
Micachu: Uh, 8 months ago. I was going off being on stage on my own. I mean, if it’s just doing production and stuff then being by yourself is ok but being on stage you just feel like an idiot. I don’t know, being by yourself is rubbish.
How long have you been producing for?
Micachu: Umm, since I was like 14 or 15. It was just a genuine love for the production of music. Listening to Tiger Beat 6 stuff. Drop The Lime and some hip hop and stuff.
And how far away from those early influences are you now?
Micachu: Pretty far.
Marc: I think its good get the difference between the live sound with the band compared to the electronic sound being produced.
Micachu: Yeah, I hate the way bands sound on CD. Well, not hate, I just think that, if they’re playing the same songs in the same arrangements it’s so obvious. I just think for your own piece of mind, being in a band, I mean how sick do you think we get of playing our same songs every night for years? Obviously it’s a great job, but you’ve got to change it up, keep trying to make it different so it remains fresh. We want it to become more like that. Changing live. I think that’s familiarity with playing together as well. You know you’ve got a certain amount of trust on stage
Has playing with the band had an effect on what you have been doing in the studio afterwards?
Micachu: Yeah. I think the aspects of simplicity and things that work when you’re doing things live can translate back pretty fast. There’s things you can do on a record that can be a bit busier and less focused, people have the option to listen to it a little less focused, but live people are just standing there with instruments, you’ve got to pare things down a bit, unless you’re making a real gesture with having real textured kind of meshing. I think the ideas of simplicity are what I’ve considered more in pop songs.
Marc: Simplicity is actually really hard to a do.
Micachu: To do well without just putting out shit and being boring
I have to ask you about the hoover.
Micachu: Well, the hoover thing comes from the original track that I produced with it because it was about listening to records when you hoover up. I was listening to a lot of records with the hoover on which is counter productive obviously, and I thought it’d be nice to start the record off with the sound of a hoover for all the other people that blatantly do that as well. When I bought it to the band I was like: “Why don’t we put a real hoover in?” because I thought it’d be funny. Obviously it’s silly, but you can get loads of tones out of it and you can filter it with the mic. It’s kind of a happy accident really. The other aspect of it is Harry Partch, He played and created his own instruments because western instruments couldn’t create the tonality he was after so he built out of necessity and he is a big influence.
What else has influenced you sonically?
Micachu: There’s so much stuff. Captain Beefheart, Nirvana, good pop and I love dance music.
Can you hear all of that on the album?
Micachu: I hope so. Half of it’s been my production and half of it is with The Shapes. Which is really interesting because it’s half of it’s like cleanly put together and the other half is live. We’ve been making it in Whitstable in Kent which has been nice.
In Mathew Herbert’s studio?
Micachu: Yeah. He’s been great. He gets it.
Lyrically what inspires you?
Micachu: To be honest with you, simple things. I try and avoid doing things about love just because I haven’t really had that much heartbreak; it would just be contrived and a little bit boring. ‘Golden Phone’ we found out had a quite interesting resonance though. It was originally about monsters and then we found out that on the Golden Gate Bridge, in San Fransico, there is a golden phone that people who are going to commit suicide can call up.
Marc: So the whole song’s basically about suicide
Not quite as light hearted as monsters. How did your mixtape come about?
Micachu: Oh, I’d done all these tracks with these rappers and I’d also done all these pop songs and I was never going to release the pop stuff so I just gave it all away on the internet. I’m actually doing another one, It’s going to be a bit shorter this time though.
And how about your night, the isle of S & M?
Micachu: That was a bit like and experiment in music. It’s gone a bit under, but we’re bringing it back this year. Basically it’s getting a balance between a respectful audience because the places are quiet and having an unpretentious atmosphere as well. It’s pretty relaxed, but it’s sort of like you have to be, because it’s quiet and you really have to listen.
Marc: You look at schools in like Newham and they have to sit in concert halls and take stuff in properly, there’s not enough of that now a days, there’ just people everywhere, people don’t just chill out and watch something.
Micachu: Yeah, it’s good when you don’t have those social barriers, people can be lost in their own little world. It would be great if people liked it either way though I guess.