Miike Snow on Writing Pop That’s Not ‘Bad For Your Health’
The members of Swedish electropop trio Miike Snow know their way around a hit song. Separately and together, Andrew Wyatt, Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg have written and produced for some of the biggest names in pop — Britney, Kylie, Madonna and Mark Ronson, to name just a few — and released their own share of bangers under the Miike Snow name, such as the effervescent 2009 gem “Animal.” At the same time, the group isn’t exactly chasing its next smash. “We wanted to keep that Wizard of Oz feeling to our musical experience, where it’s more about the imaginative adventure we can put together in a fictitious universe,” Wyatt tells Rolling Stone.
Fans might remember that Miike Snow’s sophomore record, 2012’s Happy to You, didn’t skew quite as catchy as their self-titled debut, focusing instead on a more avant-garde sound. Now with their third full-length, iii (out March 4th), Miike Snow have again reinvented their aesthetic. The trio finds inspiration from hip-hop on the album’s lead single, “Heart Is Full,” a track that captures the mainstream feel of “Animal” without seeming like it’s trying too hard. And “Genghis Khan,” which the band unveils today, is a bright, funky reminder of Miike Snow’s serious pop chops.
Wyatt recently spoke to RS about his band’s obsession with hooks, why Miike Snow once wore masks onstage and how Max Martin has “shredded so hard.”
Miike Snow’s sound this time around is quite different. What inspired the change?
When we came out, I don’t think a lot of things sounded like us, but now I think a lot of stuff sounds like Miike Snow’s first record — “Black & Blue” or “Burial” — downtempo, piano, electronic music with pop melodies that’s melancholic. I don’t think the right move is to ever stay in one place. Maybe everybody else adopted it or got more successful doing a similar thing to us, but you can’t really stop the clock ever. I think you just make things by instinct and you can’t always control where that goes. We didn’t do this, but you can try to do something like that, but it wouldn’t be as good or have the magic. It’s about catching the moment and what feels good to you that creates the song. You can’t really pick and choose so much.
Maybe we’d be more commercially successful if we stopped the clock and did something that sounded like “Animal” now because a lot of stuff has that left-leaning pop sensibility now. You know, I guess you just do what you do. With music stuff, you can’t 100 percent control it. That’s what we did on this record. Maybe this would be a nice thing for people — when this comes out, maybe people will be happily surprised that we changed our sound and not unhappily surprised.