Need To Know: Miike Snow


By Dustin Fitzharris

After releasing their critically acclaimed debut album Animal in June, Miike Snow is hitting the road for their first full headlining tour. Although the band, which consists of Swedish duo Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg and American songwriter Andrew Wyatt, has been playing together since 2007, their identities have remained somewhat of a mystery up until now.

But here's a secret: you have heard Karlsson and Winnberg's music. They're the masterminds behind Britney Spears' Grammy Award-winning song 'Toxic.' And in 2007 they reunited with the pop princess and contributed four songs to her Blackout album. And though they're straight, Karlsson and Winnberg have a knack for working with the kind of artists (Kylie, Madonna, and J. Lo) that tend to drive gay audiences crazy.

Out caught up with Wyatt after the band played their first stop on the tour in his hometown, New York City. He gave us a little insight into the band's ambiguous song lyrics, its unusual name, and what goes through his mind when he looks out into the audience and sees gay fans.

Out: The name of the band is Miike Snow but no one in the band is named Miike Snow. How did you come up with that name?
Andrew Wyatt: Because we wanted to avoid the whole process of coming up with a name, we picked the name of an assistant engineer of a video we had all worked on out in L.A. We thought he was a nice guy. Then we modified the spelling so he couldn't sue us!

Many music critics have tried to describe Miike Snow's sound, but each one seems to do it differently. How would you describe the band's sound?
I look at it as cubist pop music. We take different elements from different genres and just dump them on top of each other, but try to bring them together. It's not like you have to work that hard to listen to it. But it is actually a new juxtaposition of timbres and sentiments.

The title of the album and first single is Animal. Who or what is 'animal' and what does it refer to?
It can mean a lot of different things. It can deal with addiction. It can deal with just the basic instincts -- some of them are wonderful and some of them are very dangerous. You have to work very hard in this society to identify your own.

'Burial' is a creepy song. The lyrics you wrote are: 'Now it's the funeral / I become the serial killer of us both.' Where did the inspiration for that come from?
It's about when you try to prolong a relationship to keep it going. You should just let it go. You end up just being afraid to move on to something new, so you hold on to something that you keep repeating and it's a death experience. I know I've done that.

What is your formula for writing songs?
Not to have a formula but to be very active. Listening and experimenting.

How did you start playing with Christian and Pontus?
We got together in 2004. We met in a studio where I was playing the last song of my session and they heard it. Then I lingered and heard the first song of Christian's session. We then stayed in touch over iChat. When my band [The A.M.] was in playing Stockholm, I connected with those guys and hung out. We started playing some music together in a very casual way and then in 2006 we started talking about doing a band. Then we actually implemented it in November 2007.

How would you describe Christian and Pontus?
Christian is really intense. He's always, always moving. He doesn't sleep. He's emotional. Pontus is very mathematical.