Bored of mainstream pop sounds? Then you owe it to yourself to check out Miike Snow's brilliant second album, 'Happy To You'. A first-class mix of pop melodies, skewed electro-pop influences with more than a touch of dark, David Lynch-esque undertones, it's one of the most innovative records of 2012 so far.
We caught up with the Swedish/American trio to find out whether they were tempted to make a mainstream record this time around, what drives Swedish people to make such great music and striving to achieve world peace with their second album...
Hello Miike Snow. Congratulations on 'Happy To You'. It's a great record. Was the second album as hard to make as people would have us believe?
Andrew Wyatt: I don’t think it was for us. We spent so many hours in the studio and whatever pressure situations there were it just felt like we were relaxing.
What did you want to achieve with the new album?
Andrew Wyatt: Somewhere between ten songs and world peace.
Christian Karlsson: I don’t think we had any thoughts like that, we were just hungry to get back in the studio after being on tour for such a long time. Actually this was the first time we knew we were making and album because we didn’t the first time round.
What are your personal highlights on the album?
Christian Karlsson: I do like the whole album a lot so it is hard to pick one but the way it is very Miike Snow, I like that.
Andrew Wyatt: I like the song ‘Bavarian #1 (Say You Will)’. I really like the way it doesn’t sound like any other song I know. It also feels quite joyful, it’s just one of those songs where everything kind of lines up perfectly.
Pontus Winnberg: I like ‘Enter The Jokers Lair’ because it is a little bit weird and it doesn’t really feel like a song - in a good way.
The album is unique to say the least. What sort of sounds inspired the album?
Andrew Wyatt: We don’t try to limit ourselves; we listen to everything when we are on tour from classical to Ol’ Dirty Bastard. The stuff we listen to covers a very broad spectrum from psyche bands to the hyper dub stuff coming out of East London has been very influential on me. We all had stuff we were bringing in.
Pontus Winnberg: It’s more about the environment we are working from and friends we hang about with rather than 'we will listen to this album so much while we write the record'. We never start by saying we will write this type of song, it’s more like whatever happens happens.
Christian Karlsson: I think we largely just go with instinct. Pontus Winnberg: I guess on some level on the songs you really love goes into that but it’s hard to say what that is. Over time so much goes in.
The videos for ‘Paddling Out’ and 'The Wave' follow a story; can you explain the concept behind them?
Andrew Wyatt: It is a piece of a story. They’re more videos coming out, revealing more of whatever story there is. It’s a pretty obscure story and I don’t think we should explain too much. So we will leave that for people to piece together the puzzle.
'Happy To You' mixes genres in a bizarre and brilliant way. Were you not tempted to go more mainstream in the second album?
Pontus Winnberg: No, that was not even a concept. We don’t think our music is pop, it’s just what happens when we are in the studio. If we really tried we could come up with something if we wanted to but Miike Snow is what happens when the three of us get together in the studio and do whatever comes into our minds.
Christian Karlsson: We are in the band to do whatever music we want to do, whether that fits in, I have no idea but it doesn’t really matter.
You work with Lykke Li on the album, are there any other vocalists you'd like to feature on a future record?
Andrew Wyatt: I think the Lykke thing came about because we are friends. I would put Lykke Li in the group we just talked about, she’s awesome. It really happened naturally. She was just hanging out and we had this label that we just formed in Sweden and with ourselves, Lykke Li and Peter, Bjorn and John, we have formed this collective label and she was like 'Let’s hear your new album'. We played her this song and she liked the song and wanted to get on it.
So many great artists come from Sweden, what do you think it is that is producing all these great artists?
Christian Karlsson: I think because it’s very cold and people form bands when they're 15 for something to do and keep warm. We are good at video games, hockey and writing songs because it is so cold.
At Christmas you released an amazing Miike Snow jumper, which sold out very quickly. Have you got any more plans to release Miike Snow merchandise?
Andrew Wyatt: I think the gears of Miike Snow merchandise are always turning; you just have to see what it churns out next. I think we just want to give fans fun things to advertise us.
Finally, what are your plans for the rest of 2012?
Pontus Winnberg: Mostly touring I think. We are starting off in the south of the U.S and moving on to more U.S states, then Europe, festivals and stuff.
Andrew Wyatt: I’m just going to relax, at home with my girlfriend. But I wish these two all the best.
Thank you very much, Miike Snow. 'Happy To You' is out now. Read our review of the album here.