Welcome To Miami Horror.
I was lucky enough to have a chin-wag with the lovely Ben from Miami Horror (the one that isn’t me in the above photo) a couple of weeks ago in the lead up to his newly released debut EP Bravado (my review here). We discussed the history of the EP, his upcoming debut album, being shafted for OneLove DJs at an Alan Braxe gig, Michael from Van She and the future of Gameboy/Gamegirl. Read on…
Hello Ben Miami Horror, how are you?
Good how are you Adem?
Very well thank you Ben. What are you doing right now?
Well, me and Ooh Ee are setting up the live set today.
Wonderful! First of all, congratulations on the fantastic EP; good to finally have it out there?
Yeah. (Laughs) But I’ve been waiting so long, it just doesn’t make a difference to me now (laughs). It’s good though, from everyone else it’s getting a really nice reaction.
So how long have the tracks on the EP been knocking about for? I remember seeing “Don’t Be On With Her” on Discodust back in February last year…
(Laughs) Yeah, that was the only track that I had put out, and then I had a demo version of “Summerfest” that some people had ripped from MySpace, but that sounds nothing like the original…
Well… it is, but, not for me production wise. Most of it’s fairly new, the last three songs are new. And I spiced up “Don’t Be On With Her” quite a bit.
Yes you did spice it up a bit, the original version was without vocals before; was that always the plan, to turn it into a vocal stomper?
(Laughs) I think I always planned to have vocals on it, just that back at the start of last year when Discodust posted the track, Alex had just emailed me and said he really liked the stuff I’d done with Gameboy/Gamegirl and wanted to know if I had any demos that he could post, of course I was excited and really keen for it… it gave me a real kick to get things happening. For me, I was just in my bedroom you know? I couldn’t just whip up a vocal on my own, and I finished it how it was. But looking back on it six months later I saw… what it needed, I guess.
Completely happy now?
Well, looking back at it now, I would have liked to have put even more work into it, but I knew that I just had to let go of it eventually (laughs). I’ve kind of been touching it for two years.
Let’s talk about the video, which is full of lo-fi brilliance. This was your first video clip, yes?
How was the formation of all that? I understand you had this particular clip dreamt up quite some time ago?
Yeah, it was a concept I had wanted to do since the track came out, I thought it was kinda most appropriate for it. Just to really have a really authentic film clip, something that people would see and wouldn’t know if it was new or old (laughs). It’s actually on video, the recording. You can’t really tell on YouTube and things like that because it all gets blended together, but if you watch a high quality version it’s got lots of nice video grain and artifacts through it. And it’s all kind of bleeding and smoothed over. Once we ran it through the video it looked much better. We’re really happy with it.
Michael from Van She was supposed to play keys in it wasn’t he… what happened there?
It was obviously hard to organise the two schedules…
I can imagine…
I just thought, we’re good friends and he was in Melbourne, so if he could come down for it that would have been good. But we moved the date on him a couple of times and then it turned out he was in New York when we went to finally shoot it so, we just used the actual band from Miami Horror now.
Obviously there’s a thick air of 80’s and italo influences through the EP; who were the formative artists you listened to as you honed your musical ear?
I think the one that’s most obvious on the EP, but won’t show through on the album as much, is Prince. Coz I actually did grow up listening to Prince on repeat, there was something about the music that got me.
Has anyone said to you that “Don’t Be On With Her” sounds quite a bit like vintage Madonna?
(Laughs) No, only you Adem!
(Rapturous Laughter) Fucking Typical eh?
(Laughs) Nah, I think I have heard it once before. I know that it sounds more like Prince, I never really had the Madonna thing put on it… It’s definitely, I know exactly what you’re talking about though. There was a period where that whole production sound crossed over between Madonna and Prince, a few tracks with similarities.
“Make You Mine” features Alan Palomo from Vega on vocals. How did that collaboration come about?
Well I’d always been looking for vocalists, and then I came across this track in my iTunes, it wasn’t even Vega back then, it was from another project. And I though, geez, this guy has so much potential to fit to the kind of voice that I wanted.
Did you record together?
No, he recorded in Austin, that’s where he lives, and he’d be sending me stuff daily, back and forth, and tell him, “Oh, that’s not good enough, go do it again”… it was very hard, so much harder than I thought it would be, but we pulled it off!
So now that the EP is out there, are you seriously thinking about a full album release?
When is releasing that a possibility?
I hope by the middle of next year, but we will be dropping a couple of singles before then anyway, so it kinda will be able to hold off that long, if not a bit longer. I think about three singles or so before the album. Hopefully it’ll be ready by then, but yeah, it’s full steam ahead on that.
And just that?
Yeah, no more remixing, I’ll do the occasional good one, not much production for other people. I’ve just really gotta focus on this now, especially because it’s working and I can!
So how long ago did you start working on the album?
It was just an evolving concept for, about a year and a half now, once I’d started thinking about putting an album together and what I would want and how it should sound. But one of the tracks on it is almost as old as “Don’t Be On With Her”…
Yeah. But, most of it’s new stuff, and some is using parts of old things that I’ve made all joined together. So, all up, I’ve got about six to twelve songs ready for that. Not entirely finished but definitely on its way.
Any interesting vocal collaborations you can share with the readers?
Um, not just yet (laughs). We might be hooking up some through EMI because they have France and the UK. It’s been suggested that I work with Yelle…
It’s not as fitting for my album though. I’d be happy to produce her a track, but my album, it’s got a different vibe.
When did the EMI signing happen?
I only officially signed late August or so. But we’d been talking about it since June, I think… actually, maybe a bit earlier. Obviously Sweat It Out was the other option, and I was actually really prepared to go with them, but EMI seemed to have more faith…
And a better deal?
Yeah definitely, so I took that.
You’re about to go on tour for the EP launch with a full live band; is this the first time Miami Horror will be a fully-loaded band on the stage?
Yep, it’s the first time, and it’s definitely been confusing people (laughs).
(Laughter) How so Ben?
Where the people came from, and whether it’s permanently a band, that kind of thing. But they’re all people I’ve worked with, one’s someone who I worked very closely with on the tracks, and then there’s Ooh Ee who also helped out with a few tracks and has writing credits on the EP and album, then Josh, who’s the guitarist and singer; he sang on “Don’t Be On With Her” and a few other tracks as well.
People are quite confused as to whether it’s just you, or a band, or a duo, aren’t they? Because at Parklife there were two of you up there…
Yeah (laughs). I’m kind of working with Dan (DJing partner) on a side thing, sort of like a live DJ set. We’ll be mixing up a few other influences, loops and hooks from other older tracks, in amongst remixes and originals that will make it less of a club experience, and more of a party vibe. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while but because of the clubs I’ve been playing in, I’ve been limited. There’s gonna be the two live sets now; the band and the live DJ set.
Now, the name. Did you pull it from the 1985 movie also called MIAMI HORROR?
(Laughs) No I hadn’t even heard of it! I even did a search before I decided on it, and then suddenly six months later I found it! I dunno, I think maybe coincidently someone had written a review on it, just some kid had written about it, and it was now much easier to locate it.
Because the original title of the movie is actually Miami Golum.
Yes. It was only Miami Horror in some countries so really, they should stop being greedy and just stick with the one name, shouldn’t they?
Is there anything ELSE to the name other than that?
There’s a little bit of a story, but I’m going to save it for the album.
Recently you were billed to play alongside Alan Braxe in Melbourne but, for some reason, your name – alongside Ooh Ee’s – was left off the lineup at the last minute. What happened there?
Well, yeah, they sold all the tickets with my name on it and had my name on all the posters, and then when it came to organising set times, Future and OneLove decided to put their own DJs on, to save on a bit of money they were paying for Alan I guess.
Bit of a joke really, how unprofessional…
Well it is really, I was obviously really disappointed not supporting Alan – my favourite producer ever, and at first I didn’t kind of realise, it didn’t hit me that I was playing with him, but as soon as it was taken away I thought, how could I have let this go? I pushed harder but there was no success. They wouldn’t even let me play for cheaper…
Yeah. They just wanted to put themselves on.
Let’s move on to the digital age. Music is accessed in a vastly different way these days than going back 15 – 20 years ago, particularly with the emergence of blogs like discodust et al. But the digital age of downloading seems to be doing dance and electronic music more favours rather than hindering it, don’t you think?
Yeah for sure, it’s really good for developing artists, artists that are small and have good music can get their stuff out. And dance wise, it’s just the way it’s happen, it’s growing. It started out, for our scene at least, as very indie, and there’s still a lot of indie tracks posted, it kind of seems the poppier and dancier stuff worked on these blogs and took off a bit more. It’s been really good.
We as a country are certainly being recognised as one of THE places for that kind of sound don’t you think?
Well it’s between us and France pretty much. French music is a bit harder now though, we kind of do our own thing, it’s always been happier, it’s always been more light-hearted and synthier, that’s why, for our population size, we really are kicking arse (laughs). And the amount of really good music we can produce is incredible.
So what’s the plan regarding overseas?
Yeah, the problem with that is, most of the people that would know me would be off blogs, and they would already hear it or get it by the time it’s released over there. It just depends on if [the label are] confident with it, they can push it to a less internet-based audience which would be good, and the deal with that is, they’ve got three or four months to do so that is. EMI that is. Otherwise we can source our own. But four months later is pretty late… so I’m not sure how that’s gonna work. But we’ll just see how it goes, I mean, it IS officially a worldwide deal, it’s just their job to source it all internationally now and convince the other EMI’s I’m worth releasing.
You’ve worked with Gameboy/Gamegirl in the past so I’m curious to know if you’re doing anything new with them in the future?
I wanna take this album project a lot more seriously, it’s a priority for me to get it done, and I think that if I get these tracks out when they’re done they’ll work better. But Gameboy/Gamegirl are actually in talks about their future today. One of them is going back to school so…
At this point, the operator rudely interrupts to notify me we’ve hit the 19 minute mark in the interview and I need to wrap it up, which throws me completely just as I start getting a bloody scoop happening and, naturally, I forget to press further.
Well. Thanks so much Ben for chatting, it’s been a blast…
Cool thanks man.
See you soon mate.