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Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt on Solo Debut: 'It Feels Like Freedom'

Singer-songwriter enlisted 75-piece Czech orchestra for 'Descender'

Andrew Wyatt
Sebastian Mlynarski
September 11, 2012 12:50 PM ET

After touring the world and releasing two successful albums with his dance-pop band Miike Snow, frontman Andrew Wyatt had more modest ambitions for his first solo record, Descender.

"The original inspiration was to make something my friends would want to put on at home," Wyatt explains to Rolling Stone of the album, which clocks in at a scant half-hour. "If people like it, they'll want to hear more. If they don't, then why subject them to more than 32 minutes?" 

Descender, which is set for November release on the Swedish collective label INGRID, diverges strongly from Miike Snow in its classical influences and dark introspection. Despite Wyatt's solitary songwriting, its creation was more elaborate than anything he'd attempted before. Recorded last October in Prague with a 75-member symphony, the album also features cameos from Anthony Rossomando (the Libertines and the Klaxons), Brad Truax (Interpol and Gang Gang Dance) and John Herndon (Tortoise).

"It's like a huge ship. You can't make abrupt turns," Wyatt says of working with the orchestra. "You have to turn the steering wheel quite a bit before you actually [get to] where you want to be."

Wyatt's intricate recording process was captured in a backstage video by Vice and the Creators Project, which will be released online in November. The eight-minute clip, directed by Sebastian Mlynarski, follows Wyatt as he rehearses in his hotel room (robe-clad with wet hair, no less) and pulls the album together with his many collaborators. "Ideally, the video makes you interested as hell," Wyatt jokes.

One notable aspect of the Descender documentary is the inclusion of a little-known French singer-songwriter named Hero Fisher. "I kind of feel like I discovered this amazing [prodigy]," Wyatt raves of the singer, whom he met in Paris several years ago. "I could not believe nobody knew about her." Fisher supplies the soundtrack to the film, a heartfelt track called "Break My Heart and Mend It."

Wyatt hopes to tour internationally with Descender in winter but has not set any concrete plans. Regardless, he considers the project a success. "For me, it feels like freedom. There's a great feeling that comes from not having to compromise anything with anybody, being able to call all the shots," he explains. "I think that's sort of what I was searching for."

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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