If you’re unfamiliar with the name Milagres, you’re in for a treat: this Brooklyn-based five-piece specialize in crafting spectral indie symphonies that fall somewhere between Grizzly Bear and Wild Beasts.
Having just brought their sterling debut, Glowing Mouth, to our shores via the lovely folk at Memphis Industries, we caught up with frontman Kyle Wilson. For his musings on the new album, Billy Joel’s River of Dreams and lesser-known Brazilian mammals, read on!
Can you explain a little about the inspirations behind Glowing Mouth and what you set out to achieve sonically please?
Sonically, we set out to make a lush and well orchestrated album with a wide pallette of sounds. Our central goal is always to write great songs that work together towards a whole work of art. Business-wise, we wanted to start a musical empire to rival Sony/BMG and Universal.
You were recovering from a climbing accident when writing the album. Did that affect the record thematically?
Having already written an album about my obsession with mountaineering, and all that it implied, I knew this time I wanted to write about something else. The process, therefore, was much more stream of consciousness and I allowed themes to assert themselves, rather than contriving them from the outset of the writing process. But, the backdrop was this massive, desolate, empty, glacial space that I was still inhabiting at times literally, and also psychologically and emotionally.
Can you pick out one track on the album you’re most proud of and explain why?
At the moment I think it’s a toss-up between ‘Moon on the Sea’s Gate’ and ‘Fright of Thee’. ‘Moon…’ is an interesting and unique beast, I think. Each bizarre chord seems to unfold from its predecessor, and the whole thing adds up to something that is mysterious, even to me. I’m proud of its uniqueness and its tight structure, not to mention the string arrangements, which I stayed up all night writing the day before we recorded them with Osso String Quartet.
‘Fright of Thee’ was just a simple song that poured out all in one go. It was like something had been on the tip of my tongue for a long time and it felt great to finally say it.
A bit of research tells us your name means “miracles” in Portuguese! Are any of you fluent?
None of us speak a word of Portuguese, we just wanted to confuse people. And we wanted to make sure we’d get to go to Brazil if things took off. I’ve always wanted to see a capybara (the largest member of the rodent family) in real life.
Which artists have been most influential on your sound and why?
With all the competition there must be, is it easier or more difficult to be successful as a band based in Brooklyn? And are there any other emerging acts on the scene you could tip us off about?
I think it depends on your personality. For us, being in Brooklyn has made things a lot harder. Everything moves very fast here in this tiny Brooklyn bubble in which we live. There is a really beautiful and vibrant culture of art and music here, but it’s really hard for anyone to sift through all of it to find what is really timeless and great.
I can recommend The Milkman’s Union (who are actually from Maine), Nohow On, and Glass Ghost. All three of them transcend the clutter in their own ways. Also, our friend Fred Nicolaus – who you might know from the group Department of Eagles – is currently at work on some solo material. I'm very excited to hear that. He’s a very smart man.
You’re signed to Memphis Industries in the UK: how’s it been working with them so far?
Memphis have been really great to work with. Our friends Hooray for Earth are working with them and they made one of my favourite albums last year. But there are tons of great artists from both the US and the UK on their roster.
Having spent a lot of time on the road recently, how are you all getting on and which band member is proving the most irritating so far?!
Everyone is equally irritating. I’ve thought about getting rid of everyone else in favour of a less irritating experience, but I figure that then I’d just irritate myself.
Wow! I get to pick a band to support us?! I’ll take chips and salsa, unlimited drink tickets, an avocado, a bar of dark chocolate and a bottle of Laphroaig as well, thank you. Seriously, maybe one of those bands I mentioned before: The Milkman’s Union, Nohow On, Glass Ghost or Fred Nicolaus?
You’re about to start your first UK tour: what are you expecting from the British audiences? And is there anything you’d particularly like to do/see while over here?
I have no idea whatsoever what I should expect from British audiences, which is a great feeling. I think, being from Brooklyn, we’ve learned how to react (or not react) to just about every kind of audience we’d ever need to play in front of. But I like surprises. I like not knowing what to expect.
I’d like to make it to the Tate Modern, if we have time. I’m sure that’s a very touristy thing to say, but it’s a great museum. I was also hoping to see Edinburgh, but I suppose that will have to wait until next time. I also heard something about fried candy bars? Kindly email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. I love a good adventure.
Do you have plans to come back over for festival season in 2012?
Yes! Yesssss! We want to get covered in mud.
It’s clear you guys don’t take yourselves too seriously so can you tell us your favourite (clean) joke?!
What kind of bees make milk? Boobies!
What’s the best album you’ve heard in the past twelve months?
What are you most looking forward to in 2012 and what do you hope to have achieved as a band by this time next year?
Right now I’m most looking forward to our trip to the UK in January. I hope we get to tour a bunch and play some festivals, lay the groundwork for another album that we’re excited about, get in some fights, do tons of drugs, make out with some supermodels and trash some hotel rooms. You know, the usual stuff...