Two weeks ago we managed to sit down with Mixhell just before they were about to go on stage supporting fellow Brazilian’s CSS in Liverpool.
Their debut album, mixed by Gui Boratto, blends old and new, taking the best elements of both dance, electronica and rock to create a fresh and exciting sound that’s entirely Mixhell’s.
Their live performances combine live percussion and dance fusion to create an incredibly engaging, wild and exciting show. In addition, they’ve enlisted the help of constant studio collaborator Max Blum, who adds live bass to their already unique and intricate sets.
With the Brazilian trio about to release their first debut album, ‘Spaces’, via Sunday Best & Boys Noize Records, we thought it was about time we grilled the trio on everything Mixhell, their influences, and what happened to their now scrapped first album.
HBF: Hey Mixhell welcome to Liverpool – first of all: give us five words that best describe Mixhell?
Iggor: Energy and Beats.
Laima: Tropical and Boogie.
HBF: Tell us about the concept behind the new album?
Iggor: The concept for the album was about the three of us coming up with up with something that was fun to make and, most importantly, was also fun to reproduce live. Like I’ve mentioned before we scrapped an entire album, because, you know, we weren’t 100% feeling it. But this time around I think we’ve come up with something we’re all really feeling this time. So I think those elements made the concept for the album. This time around I think we knew we’d made something we could really enjoy. For me, it’s all about mixing different elements from the studio, you know, capturing the madness of the studio; the drums, synths, bass guitars, sampling everything – but bringing it altogether where the listener can’t differentiate between the two.
Max: Yeah sound-wise that’s definitely the concept of the album – it’s about confusing the listener. So they don’t know what is acoustic or what is digital. It’s about letting it all bleed into each other. I think this new album does it a lot better than the last one.
Laima : It’s all about the relationship between analog and digital for me.
HBF: So when making the album do you all rely on each of your talents or do allow everyone to contribute on each element – so for you, Iggor, do you have any apprehensions using a drum machine rather than live drums?
Iggor: No no – I love it, that’s probably why we do what we do with Mixhell, it’s the love of both, you know, combining both elements together, because if you’re being too strict about one or the other that can be really bad. Its bad because you lose stuff from both I think. So we’re quite open with regards to who can do what.
HBF: So how does the now scrapped album differ to the new one?
Laima: I think it’s more organised, I think the first album helped us to get where we are now, it helped us organise our ideas, so for me, that’s the main difference.
Iggor: Yeah yeah, all that stuff came with time, all the DJing and playing live helped us to get to where we are today.
Max: I think the other tracks we were trying to emulate stuff we liked, but with this album we just made music we love – that’s the difference. This time we’re not trying to emulate anything.
Laima: Yeah I think we had too many influences. And I think we got a bit confused. The process was also confusing, too, because, you know, we also had too many collaborators. So sometimes you just need to focus on ourselves. So for the last album we’d been asking other people to sing, and then finally when I felt like I could sing we became a lot happier with this new direction.
Iggor: That actually happened when we made a cover of the Pixies to play out, it had Laima singing on it and then Max and I knew that was the direction we needed to go for the album.
HBF: Give us an idea of how you recorded the album? What sort of process do you go through – is it sending each other stuff or contributing together?
Iggor: We have a very open way of dealing with things so there are no restrictions, so sometimes there’s a beat already made so I don’t have to do the drums all the time – so it’s a pretty open recording process.
Max: Yeah, sometimes I’ll work on the drums from Iggor for something else, and then we’ll use some of those ideas for Mixhell – then sometimes its different: Laima and Iggor will appear with the whole song, and I’ll add the bassline – so anything can happen really.
Laima: There was a time where Max would come up with a song, and we work off what he had done and that was really good for us. But now there are times where I’ll come up with an idea, and it might not be the best idea – but, you know, I’ll do all the synths and programming and then I’ll send it to Max, who’ll take on the role of producer – so we have a pretty open way of working.
HBF: So how would you know when a track is finished?
Laima: Haha, well that’s probably why we didn’t finish the last album – but now we’re a bit more organised.
Iggor: You know what, we’ll probably go back to the some of the older material – because there were some really cool ideas in there.
HBF: So what do you have planned for the rest of 2013 and beyond?
Iggor: We’ve just finished a video for the third single ‘The Way’, so that’ll be ready really soon. Actually ‘The Way’ is the second song from the album as ‘Intergalactic’ was from the scrapped album.
Laima: Yeah, we thought that was a really fucking cool song – so we decided we’d use it for the first single which came out last year.
Iggor: We’ve also finished the video for ‘The Way’, which has Tyler from LCD playing live bass on it.
HBF: How did that come about? Max did you feel threatened by that?
Max: No way – I love Tyler.
Iggor: We’ve known him for years, and we just felt like if we could get Tyler that would amazing. So we played him some of the album and he offered to play live bass for one of the tracks.
Laima: Yeah, LCD weren’t busy at the time so when he said he was free we were like wow – we love Tyler. So when he said yes we just had to make it happen.
Iggor: For the remixes we’ve got Riva Starr, Bakersville, Ladytron and Sinden. Actually as we speak we have the masters to approve but we have no internet. So that’ll have to wait until we get back to London to check them out.
HBF: So when is the next single out?
Laima: The single will be out in a couple of weeks, as the album comes out June 11 – so it needs to be before then.
HBF: So did you play the album to any of your friends? What did they think?
Laima: Yes we have.
HBF: I personally thought it sounded like a Soulwax record.
Laima: Well we take that as a massive compliment – as they actually helped a lot .
HBF: In what way did they help you?
Laima : They tell the truth, haha. They gave us so much feedback, you know, everything from the process of recording to doing this and doing that.
Iggor: Yeah our friends have been a great help, Boys Noise also helped too – so it’s really cool we can call on our friends. Also they can relate to it as they’ve been there before with their own albums. So when we showed a load of demos to Alex he gave us loads of feedback, then he was like I want to play my new record (Out Of The Black) – so that was a really cool exchange.
HBF: If your studio was on fire and you could go back and choose one thing to save – what would it be and why?
Max: Can we have two? I would choose my Juno 106, it’s the first synth I switch on when I have an idea – and it’s probably on every track from the album. I’d also take my dog if he was in the studio, which he always is.
Iggor: I would grab the MS20 – it’s such a cool piece of gear, we call it our baby.
Laima: You know what, since the boys are saving the analog stuff – I’d save my hard drive because you know, I’m a DJ and it has all my music on it.
HBF: Iggor, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen whilst playing?
Iggor: One time I was playing with Sepultura, in Tijuana. And there were three levels of balconies above the stage, and there was this crazy dude who jumped onto the stage from the third floor wearing a chicken mask. It was really weird because it was really funny, but also the guy really fucked himself from the fall – all whilst we were playing live.
HBF: Which crowds are the best: Electronic or Metal?
Iggor: I think both, as soon as a crowd stops worrying what’s around them, and just starts feeling the music then that’s a beautiful thing – so I would say there is no difference.
HBF: If you could choose a collaborator to work with who would you choose?
Max: James Murphy.
Laima: Arcade Fire.
Iggor: Mike Brodin from Fake No More.
HBF: Of all your friends who would you say is coolest, you know, who’s the coolest of cool.
Max: Easy: Xavier from Justice.
Laima: I would say Dave Dewaele
Iggor: It has to be Stephen Dewaele.
Mixhell’s debut album ‘Spaces’ is out worldwide June 11.