Old School Jazz Initially Inspired Miike Snow Singer Andrew Wyatt

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, New York produced several significant pop and punk acts, including Talking Heads, the Ramones and Blondie.

But for Andrew Wyatt, the singer in the indie pop act Miike Snow, jazz had a significant role in shaping his music.

On tour in support of last year’s breakthrough album, iii, an intoxicating mix of rock, dance and pop, Miike Snow performs at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Goodyear Theatre in Akron.

“I was a little young to be around for the heyday of the Mudd Club and the Peppermint Lounge,” he says via phone as he drives to the airport to fly to the first date of a summer tour. “My sister used to go out with the guy from the Lounge Lizards, John Lurie. My dad wrote books about jazz. My upbringing was not about the Ramones or Velvet Underground. It was more in the jazz camp with guys like Dizzy Gillespie. It wasn’t so much the rock ’n’ roll world. Mostly, growing up, I just got jazz.”

During that time, he formed a short-lived experimental pop band and even worked on a project at Peter Gabriel's Real World studios.

He recalls being inspired when the New York scene started to blossom again in the late ’90s.

“I was around when it starting take off again and a lot of those people were my friends — Liars, Yeahs, Yeahs, Yeahs, the Strokes and D Generation,” he says.

He then met the producers Bloodshy & Avant in Sweden in 2004 when the duo was working on an album for Britney Spears. He began collaborating with them and never looked back.

“We had a great time,” says Wyatt when asked about the first time he met the duo. “I remember laughing a lot, way more than I ever have since.”

The band issued its self-titled debut in 2009, which it essentially cobbled together, and it generated a buzz.

“Of course, it was very surprising when the album became a success,” says Wyatt. “I would have never ever thought that ten years after our first session, we’d be in a car on the way to the airport talking about this band. No way.”

Having had some live shows under its belt, the band expanded its sound with 2012’s Happy to You.

Its latest album, iii, has been its biggest breakthrough. The album includes the hit singles/videos “Genghis Khan,” “My Trigger” and “Heart Is Full.” A true hybrid, the release draws from both indie rock and electronica. With its falsetto vocals and jazzy synthesizer riffs, “Pull My Trigger” comes off as a cross between Steely Dan and Marvin Gaye. Other tracks such as “Heart of Mine” and “For U,” a hip-hop number that features a cameo from Charli XCX, sound more like what passes as contemporary pop music these days.

“I feel a connection to some electronic music,” says Wyatt. “With [the EDM producer] Flume, I think his music is great, and I feel a connection to some of production techniques. I don’t see my music as an EDM. I don’t think anyone does. But we’re living in a computer age. It’s not the electric age anymore.”

Though the band initially didn’t want to use any laptops in its live performances, it has since brought them into the mix.

“It was back in the day that we didn't want to use laptops, but we’ve got some laptops now,” he admits. “We don’t ever do it in a way that we’re just playing to a backing track. We engage those laptop- produced parts manually in real time. We have a good drummer so that enables us to do that.”

Wyatt says the band has already started to write new tracks.

“We’re going to start putting new stuff out this summer,” he says. “We just want to make the coolest shit we can. That’s it.”

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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