This man's mesmerising manipulation of classic pop tropes are causing a stir on the Canadian underground - now it's time the world tuned in
11:52 19th February 2018

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“I think I might be a little bit high,” says Michael Brock, aka Mind Bath, sinking in for a long, warm cranial soak. He hasn’t decided to approach his introductory Gigwise interview in the same way that Snoop Dogg approaches most social encounters, however; he’s overdosing on neon citrus drinks that he’s using to fight a cold. “They’re the shit.”

You’ll need a sharp mind when approaching Mind Bath’s music, though; there’s much to unpick in this time-warped wash of distorted R&B, ambient adventurism and psych-flecked electro-pop. A real bubble-bath for the brain, it’s akin to James Blake coming to terms with a history in porn (“I was young, and I needed the money,” Michael whispers on ‘I Was Young’, the title track of Mind Bath’s 2016 debut EP) and is imbued with an otherworldly aura that might well be rooted in Michael’s past as a British Colombian child actor from kindergarten age.

“I did a lot of sci-fi, like X-Files and Outer Limits,” he says. “The last notable thing I did was this camp horror movie called Jennifer’s Body with Megan Fox. I play a goth kid and the cannibal cheerleader eats my best friend.”

A bright future as horror flick psycho fodder beckoned, until Michael’s grandmother sent him an unsolicited guitar when he was fifteen and changed the course of his life forever. At seventeen he moved to Vancouver and made pocket money playing Coldplay requests as a “live radio” in bars and restaurants then, at twenty-two, he moved to Germany and “started making experimental, really minimal music, just bass and drums and vocal loops because I didn’t have any instruments, I just had my laptop. I was experiencing a lot of techno and dance music and party culture there, I definitely went there with the intention of starting everything over again and put energy into making this my life. It’s the best decision I ever made. Some days it’s intense, but what else would I do? That was when I felt that true endlessness of creativity. That you can be completely alone but there’s a whole universe there for me to access.”

Delving into the sonic galaxies inside his Macbook, “following my heart and my ear”, Michael made “insane noise” until some of it started making a dreamy sort of sense. Back in Vancouver and later in New York he became Mind Bath, finding inspiration in the rush of America’s manic/romantic epicentre. “The song ‘Over New York’ reminds me of when I was in New York and in love,” he says, “the whole romance of being there, all the childlike dreams you have of going to New York had me flying all over the city, like I was above all the chaos and loving life.”

‘Over New York’ was the first song he co-wrote with Ouri, the best-friend and weekly jam partner he bonded with after a joint gig, and it closed out the Project Pablo co-produced ‘I Was Young’ EP, the record that focussed Mind Bath. “When I started seeing people light up, seeing their reactions to the music and how other people perceived Mind Bath, I started experiencing the healing power of being truly vulnerable,” Michael explains. “If I’m being vulnerable I’m being authentic and not playing games.”

Michael’s not playing about – 2018 will see a raft of singles and an album on his own Bedroom Dubs label, all in the good cause of messing with the mainstream. Besides the open-hearted nature of Michael’s work, the magic of Mind Bath is in his mesmerising manipulation of classic pop tropes. “I love pop music but I like to experiment with it,” he says. “I like to play with a total pop melody and my voice is very pop. Then put it over something a bit more hectic and bassy and left-field, production-wise… I hope people will continue to experiment and pop music will keep getting weirder.”

Weird pop? Mind Bath has it on tap…
Words: Steven Kline

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