Miike Snow are back with a new record, and this week we scored some time with Christian Karlsson from the band to have a chat about iii, its hip-hop influence, acid trips, and why this is their best record yet.
How has your week been so far?
My week has been good, busy, I’ve been on tour for a very long time. I had two days off with my daughter, I live in Bangkok so I’ve been here for two days and then I go back on tour.
The fact that you guys have come back together after three years for this album is pretty awesome. Although I imagine the three of you individually would have gathered a lot of different inspirations, sounds and ideas in your time apart. All three of you lived in different cities and worked on individual projects. What was the biggest or most noticeable difference between working on ‘iii’ and ‘Happy To You’?
‘Happy To You’ was done much, much faster than this record and the first record. We had just been on tour for a year basically, the vibe of ‘iii’ was more like the first record, we weren’t in the room as much as the first record but we were able to do whatever we wanted to do when we came together, there were like no rules whatsoever, whatever music comes out that’s what we are going to release.
I read you guys had no intentions or plans to get together for a third album, the idea only came about after you reunited in L.A. for a catch up. Given those circumstances, does iii almost feel serendipitous?
It felt like one of the easiest records I’ve ever made, and one of the best for sure. I love all three but this one is my favourite by far and maybe it is because of the way it came together, maybe that plays a role in why I like it so much. When music comes together easily like that, I think it’s something good.
Since you guys had so much time apart, and worked on different projects, was the process of making iii a little more difficult, or did you all still flow quite well?
To me it almost feels like it was easier because we had had those years together now, we know each other like you know someone in your family, when you tour that heavily you live together. We all came in with something different this time because we’d been working on different things, so maybe we were a little bit different, we had different things in our heads, but it wasn’t hard. It was actually really cool, we played with different ideas and sounds and new pallets, and how to put together a song. A new experience for all three of us I think.
I’ve read that Andrew (Wyatt) in particular used to take acid to enhance the live shows, can we expect more of that when you tour?
I think a Miike Snow show will be different every night. Every night is a challenge in some different sort, but in a cool way. Miike Snow is aways doing a challenge too much, like something is going to go wrong or break, it’s always been one of the things we like, having some type of danger attached to the live show.
I have to ask, where did the title, ‘Genghis Khan’ come from? Because I’m imagining one of you sitting at home watching The History Channel and the episode happened to be on Genghis Khan and you thought, ‘hey that’d be a cool metaphor!’ Probably wasn’t anything like that was it?
Well actually we were in the studio in L.A. and Andrew came by and I basically had the track — the chorus, beats and melody and stuff — and he was like “I’ve got something”, he’d been thinking for about a second and he just basically started singing and jumping around with it, singing that name and I was like get a microphone and sing it and he did and we kept it. So that’s it. So ‘Genghis Khan’ came from his brain, it was something that went down really quickly and that’s what came out.
There is a big hip-hop and R&B influence on the record, where or who did that come from?
All three of us have a big love for hip-hop and we all have a history with it – I was a rapper for many years before I started producing. Nineties hip-hop is my bible, it’s always going to be the best music for me, it’s like my heart and soul. When we started to get this album together I was like “I’m going to do hip-hop”, and Andrew was like “yeah! Let’s do that!”. I’ve known them for so long that I know what they like, me and Andrew have been enjoying music together for the last 6 years and we both just love hip-hop. What we thought was something missing from our own music was samples. We hadn’t worked with samples in a long time. I used to use samples all the time, so we brought that into Miike Snow and particularly this record. So yeah that’s what came out.
Miike Snow used to perform under the guise of masks when performing live, will we see more of that in the future?
We will see, if we’re up to the challenge I guess. We will see what it will be this time.
Everybody loved ‘Animal’ when it came out, it’s still one of your most recognisable tracks, but just listening to some of the new stuff, you’ve gone in a different direction. What do you think fans of ‘Animal’ will think of your new album?
I actually feel like this record is closest to the first one than the second one. It has something new, but it definitely has a lot stuff from the first. In my head the first half of the album is like ‘Genghis Kahn’, but the second half, I love it, was done in a different way. I think that early supporters of Miike Snow or lovers of ‘Animal’ will love this album – I’m pretty confident about that.
Are there plans to tour in Australia?
Yes. For sure. Australia has been such a great market for us since day one basically, and over the three years with our separate projects as well. We really like being there and playing is such a fun time.
Miike Snow’s third studio-album iii will see its release on March 4th, where you will most certainly find these two incredible tracks.