HotStar: Miike Snow

What does electronic, pop, classical, punk, hip-hop, indie rock-tinged music sound like?

Answers: A) Danceable. B) Enticing enough to bring a jackalope out of hiding. C) Miike Snow. D) All of the above.

Miike Snow, a trio comprising New York musician/composer Andrew Wyatt and dynamic Swedish production duo Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg (aka Bloodshy & Avant), defies categorization and seems to like it that way.

The genre-bending band came together to collaborate in 2007 and released its self-titled debut last year before taking on a relentless touring schedule of clubs, theatres and festivals across the States, Canada and Europe.

But before they joined forces, Wyatt, Karlsson and Winnberg were each involved in music in various capacities.

Wyatt wrote classical pieces and staged productions of operas before joining The A.M. with Jeff Buckley’s former bandmates and embarking on a solo project. Karlsson and Winnberg had history with punk and hip-hop groups and as Bloodshy & Avant wrote and produced songs for artists including Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Britney Spears, whose “Toxic” scored them a Grammy for best dance recording in 2005.

Despite any cultural or musical differences, Wyatt told Pollstar that when the group got together to start writing, “It felt a little bit unusual, but we all had enough of a musical background that we could communicate with each other pretty easily.”

The band agreed upon two things from the very beginning. First, they wanted a relative level of anonymity so the music would speak for itself, which led to the use of their ubiquitous jackalope symbol and the donning of masks during shows. Second, they wanted to reconstruct the highly produced sounds of the album live – sans laptops.

Manager Brent Kredel of Monotone Inc. explained Miike Snow has made the extra effort to ensure every show is a great time for concertgoers.

“They decided early on that there would be no computers on stage,” he told Pollstar. “The band worked very hard to recreate the songs live to give the fans an organic experience. We don’t think the fans paid $25 to come hear the band play the CD. They want it to be real and unpredictable.”

Creating that sound involves some heavy instrumentation. Wyatt sings and plays guitar and occasional keyboard. Karlsson and Winnberg, who also sing, man an array of mixers, samplers and effects pedals. A backing band includes keys, bass and drums.
Though it sounds like a setup that could prove overwhelming at times, Wyatt said the trio wouldn’t want to perform any other way.

“I think there’s something exciting about trying to bite off a little bit more than you can chew in any situation,” he said. “I think we all have kind of workaholic personalities. First of all, that kind of equipment sounds better than laptops. Second, we wouldn’t find it very challenging just to open up some files every night and just stand there and kind of pretend that we’re playing.”

The band has also incorporated lights and fog into performances to add visual appeal even though it’s eaten into profits at times.
“They want to put on a high-quality experience even when it means losing money on smaller tours,” Kredel said. “It is important that fans leave a Miike Snow show excited to come back and see them again.”

Agent Tom Windish agreed that word-of-mouth has helped grow the band quickly.

“They have done better and better over the last year-and-a-half and I think a lot of it has to do with the quality of the live show,” he told Pollstar. “When people go see them, they go back and tell their friends how great the show was. They really don’t disappoint.”

Miike Snow recently wrapped a tour of the U.S. and heads to Europe, Japan and Australia this summer for a string of festival dates including Glastonbury, Splendour in the Grass and Fuji Rock. The band will hit South America in the fall and come back to the States for more festivals and some of its biggest venues yet, which should be no problem for Wyatt.

“I think that our music really lends itself to large venues,” he said. “The ideas are broad enough to fill large spaces very comfortably and we’re comfortable playing for large audiences.”