Miami Horror’s fourth release “The Shapes” is a visionary project that focuses on the amalgamation between music and visual art. The sound is percussive and colourful, taking influence from 70’s post-punk as well as the hypnotic bounce of world-beat pop artists of the 80’s. Often known for their diverse sound and mix of influences, “The Shapes” gives Miami Horror the opportunity to focus on one specific direction, creating something that exists as a stand alone conceptual release. It is Art Pop at it’s best, a brilliant mixture of sense and nonsense, freak-beat avant-funk to pick you up from the doldrums of everyday existence. As part of the release, Miami Horror are working closely with their favorite visual artists on a series of murals, art cars and collaborations around the world that are set to inject colour back into daily life.
Please tell us about the beginnings of Miami Horror. What prompted the transition from it being your solo project to it being a fully-fledged band?
I was getting tired of DJing music I didn’t like and it felt like it would make sense to perform the music live. From there we’ve started to collaborate more and more and the live show became a huge part of Miami Horror.
You’ve said in interviews that what prompted Miami Horror to become this bigger thing was the attention it got on music blogs. Tell us about that music media ecosystem and how it has changed over time. Do you think it has become harder or easier for newcomers to rise to fame in a similar way you have?
I think it has become harder. It has become easier to make music for everyone, but that means more competition and more noise. Blogs were amazing because a lot of people really used them to find new music, so if you were above mediocre it was easy to get some attention and get the ball rolling.
You guys have said that ‘The Shapes’ has a much more ’80s feel than previous releases, but also that it plays with everything from the “…the art pop and lyrical wit of the Talking Heads to Caribbean funk and African beats.” How did all of this come together in the EP for you guys?
It’s not necessarily more ’80s than anything else, it seems like a lot of our releases are pretty ’80s. This EP , specifically, was more like an experiment with vocal and lyric styles, we wanted to do something different there. And it ended up sounding quite David Bryne-esque (Talking Heads). Then we found a lot of older music from that era that related to that post-punk theme and new-wave theme that the Talking Heads were involved in. We played with music that has a bit of attitude, I guess, with funk and disco influences.
Can you tell us a bit about the creative process behind ‘The Shapes’? Did you guys sit around doing African drumming circles or attend an ’80s themed prom perhaps?
Haha! No we didn’t really do anything like that. I actually worked on loads of the instrumentals myself and brought them to the band. And then, there was one song where we collaborated with this artist from Mexico, his name is That’s Nice. So yeah, the instrumentals were made first and then we tried a whole bunch of vocal ideas on them for a while. It was really just building it and layering it in the studio one by one over most of last year.
The aesthetic of Miami Horror as a band is so intriguing and increasingly ‘clean’. Why the brightly coloured suits and slicked hair for ‘The Shapes’ shots?
Well the EP is called ‘The Shapes’ because it’s inspired by a lot of current visual artists that we’re into, who use shapes and lines and these kind of defined elements with a lot of colour. We wanted the shots to look like a human version of these artworks, using bodies as shapes as well in a sort of mannequin kind of way. And we wanted to focus on primary colours and a few other colours. That was the vision we had for the cover, long before the EP was created. So we probably won’t be wearing those suits live or anything like that, but for the cover we wanted something bold that stands out.
Miami Horror seems to be as much about cinematography and visual design as the music. Please tell us about the people who’ve most influenced your taste in the visual department, any filmmakers or artists whose works you hold particularly dear?
It’s always changing. Over the last three years it was artists like Erin Garcia, Spenceroni, Annu Kilpelainen, and Sebastian Borkenhagen, all of which we’ve worked with on our previous and current releases. We’re really into bold shapes, lines and color at the moment and that has been the case for the last few years.
Since The Shapes seems to blend more music from around the world with the distinct sunny electronica you are known for than any album preceding it. How you stay inspired and keep finding out about all this music that’s far from the mainstream? Do you have to put in much effort in making sure you don’t wind up surrounded by the same sounds?
Yeah, I mean sometimes pop music kills me, it was great for a moment but it’s starting to get to that point again. It was refreshing when even artists like Rihanna and Drake were using a lot of cooler production influences but it’s starting to get old with all the cheap copycats that come with it. So we just continue to find our own thing. Also, a lot of alternative music sounds very similar at this point, which is uninspiring, to be honest. I’m hoping for some sort of electro-clash revival where it’s cool to do something different and edgy.
When writing lyrics, do you try to mine your own experiences or do you focus on some concept and explore that?
We do both. All Possible Futures was quite personal, whereas Illumination was more imaginative. To be honest I like the imaginative side of Illumination better. Nobody needs to hear more boring personal stories that have been told a million times. The Shapes was cool because we were exploring totally different topics. Some sound personal but they’re actually imagined concepts of a broader culture or character.
What’s next on the horizon for you guys? Are you thinking of making more conceptual work?
I think whatever we do next we want to get back to something moody, vibe-ey and emotional, but in a totally different way to how everyone else is doing it. Clean, downtempo modern R&B is becoming really boring … I love the feel of records like the new Avalanches one, as well as old house records, the repeated euphoria they carry. The way they can take you away to another place. We need more of that. At least that’s what resonates with me. I want to hear something that can always feel magical and timeless as opposed to really specific genres like hip house, dub step, post dub step etc. Those things only stick around for a few years.