Hailing from Brooklyn, the newly inaugurated musical capital of America, Milagres are an exciting new band due to release their eccentrically unique debut album 'Glowing Mouth' next week. With a finely crafted sound that is impossible to pin down they are a unique occurence in music: that uncanny band who refreshingly defy the art of pigeonholing.
With a work ethic to match Milagres have managed their own UK tour, produced their own record and come back from the trauma of singer Kyle's near fatal mountain climbing accident only to jet set across the pond in a true statement of intent. In a mosquito sized window in their schedule we caught up with the hotly tipped band to talk Brooklyn, songwriting and touring our great majesty's land:
So this is your first time over in the UK?
It is actually!
How have you been finding your visit?
We've been really busy, mainly playing shows for the first four days with lots of travelling, we did some stuff for Radio One, we've driven up to Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow, Brighton and all the way back to London - but gladly we might add! It's been great, a lot of fun. Hopefully we're going to get some time to walk around and see the sights at some point - we want to go see the Tate Modern and pay a visit to the Gin Mill down on Portobello road.
As of the last few weeks though we've been so busy that when we actually get the time to do something that isn't band related we are probably going to be totally dumb struck, we seem to have forgotten what to do with our spare time? Don't think we're actually going to be able to function as normal human beings anymore, although the first port of call will be to do some laundry, at least before we do anything else...
From the experience you've gained so far what would you say are the differences between British and American crowds?
There are so many different types of American crowds and probably the same thing here depending on the city you are in. It's hard for us to judge as we've gone back to being an opening band over the last few days but we got a great reception each night. Sometimes you look out at somebody in the crowd who looks like they aren't enjoying it and then they'll come up to you later, say they love you and buy the record. Other times someone is dancing around like a lunatic then they just leave. It's really hard to tell sometimes so I'm always reminding myself what I look like when I'm mesmerised by a band.
One thing we did notice though is that in America when you peer into the crowd a lot of the time you see a lot of people on their mobile phones. You never know whether that is a good or a bad thing though as they might be doing it because they are bored or telling a friend "look I'm at an amazing show". Here nobody does that either way, maybe they wait till they get home, it's much more polite.
Brooklyn where you guys hail from is a bit of a creative bubble, how do you feel that has influenced your sound?
It's definitely a bubble, it's easy to get wrapped up within and forget what the rest of the world is like because there are certain important aspects of music and culture there that don't necessarily pertain to the rest of the world, even America. As soon as we leave Brooklyn it always seems to be a world apart. Whether or not it's influenced us, I'm sure it has in certain ways but we've never strived to be a Brooklyn band perse.
We are part of an artistic community however so we do come into contact with people who we have reciprocal artistic relationships with all the time. In that way I think it does shape what we do as it's good to be in an environment with other bands who are extremely good at what they do.
What do you think it is that makes Brooklyn unique in comparison to other places?
Maybe just the fact that it's so densely populated, it's very much become and is becoming the cultural centre of New York, as opposed to Manhattan. There are a lot of different neighborhoods, a lot of different variations, a lot of diversity ethnically and income wise meaning you can live in a dilapidated loft or a luxury apartment on the same street; there are a lot of different things in the mix. From what we've seen so far though the city that reminds us the most of Brooklyn is funnily enough London.
Kyle is from the west coast actually, as opposed to Brooklyn on the east coast, the music from the west has much more space in it, it sounds like it's made by people who have more time on their hands, perhaps they are a little less self-conscious. In New York I think people are a little more used to being judged, it's a little more claustrophobic which doesn't make for worse music it just makes for different music. Also it's a lot more expensive to be an artist in a place like Brookyln, you need to pay for rehearsal space whereas in a lot of other towns in the states you can do it in your garage or your living room and the kind of music you make when you can sit around, drink beer, smoke and so on is a lot different from what you get if you have to prepare everything beforehand.
Kyle you had a mountain climbing accident which culminated in the writing of a lot of the material on the album, do you feel the experience helped the band manifest in its current form?
It wasn't so much that accident that changed everything, it was more the time leading up to it - after that I realised I needed to change everything about my life and I literally changed everything. We were all working together in some capacity but the way that I approached the band changed making it a lot more bearable for the others, everything began to work a lot better afterwards.
The influence of the incident, where do you feel it lies most on the 'Glowing Mouth' album?
Actually it's funny I have to write a track by track analysis on the album for someone so I have been thinking about this; to me it's definitely most evident in the title track, writing it was an extremely liberating process. I studied music formerly for years and years and years and ever since I've stopped studying I've been trying to break free of all the conservative nit-picky rules that I had developed - in writing that song I broke an awful lot of those rules. At the same time I ended up really pushing myself in order to get the best performance possible.
You've described in prior interviews the concept of writing in a conceptual manner, how did you approach this album?
With this album our approach was more along the lines of a stream of consciousness, writing whatever I wanted to and then fitting everything together, or at least hoping that it all fit together. It ended up being cohesive in the best way, where once it was finished it made sense as an album. When we were writing however it seemed to be all over the place!
'Glowing Mouth' chronicled a period of really significant change both in our personal lives and in our life as a band as well, if we were to line up the tracks chronologically I think you'd be able to see that change, it definitely starts at point A and progresses to point B.
The video for Halfway is quite out there! What was the idea behind it?
It wasn't our idea, we got a pitch from the director Dimitri Simakis, we read it and decided it was either going to be the worst thing in the world or the best thing we could possibly hope for, so naturally we thought let's do it. Dmitri is the brain behind a website called everythingisterrible.com, he's a master of finding clips of bad old 80s films, absolutely awful Youtube clips which I have no idea where he finds but we just really liked the aesthetic of the stuff he does. We knew that if he was going to make our video it was going to be entertaining at least and we were really really pleased with the results.
We enjoyed the fact that the effect was extremely polarizing: some people said it was scary, some people said it was awful and some people just loved it. That's kind of what we wanted as a piece of art should illicit a response, there's a lot of music videos out there today that you watch and think "okay that's pretty good".
So you're ruling out any videos with ladies in bikinis and sponge baths?
We think it's too early to say!
A lot of critics have failed to pigeonhole your sound, if you could how would you describe it?
Colplday lite! You know we've got Chris Martin on speed dial so we just ask him tips every night of how to continue, he's our vocal coach. Frasier who recorded the album is also Brian Eno's nephew so he's been drawing influence from there.
Honestly though I don't think any of us are good at describing our band at all so I don't blame journalists for having a hard time. Everyone in the band has certain different influences or different backgrounds that all come out on the record, most of those critics who see us though would say we sound like Coldplay. If Kyle's voice has even a slight reminiscence of it people like to jump on it, if that's his voice that's his voice however.
It falls under the branch of indie rock but we don't think about it that much, there are no constraints, we just do what feels right and if it's good it's good. If we set out to make a record focussing on a specific genre, say chillwave or something like that we would get bored before we finish it. There's so much music out there that is destined for a specific niche, we admire artists who can make an entire record or catalogue like that without losing interest but we can't. Everytime we sit down to write we want to make a completely different song to the song we made before and the same goes for each record. Hopefully when we put out our next one you'll be pleasantly surprised by where we go with it. The real idea is not to do something different each time though, it is to keep ourselves interested, if you've got to go out on tour and play the same song hundreds of times you've got to find a way to do something different.
Lastly some artists describe touring in a new territory as a refreshing experience that allows them to go back to the more intimate gigs they loved in the first place, what's your experience been?
It is a bit like starting again as the record is coming out on January 16th, so it feels like a second chance, it's completely different. Having toured the United States we're in much better shape, we're a better band than we were even a month, month and a half ago and I think we're continuing to get better. To come over here with the experience we've had we were able to put on much better shows than if we'd done it the other way round.