Interview: Minuit

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NZ electronica gurus Minuit are making the most of their success – last year saw the release of their third album, Find Me Before I Die A Lonely Death Dot Com, a video for their track ‘Aotearoa’ featuring photos from fan submissions, and have kicked things off this year with a steady stream of NZ shows, planning a new EP, and recently airing one of their tracks on Grey’s Anatomy.  I recently got to chat with Paul Dodge about what the band have been up to – it sounds like things are only going to get more interesting!

You’ve got a great summer tour lined up, with recent gigs including Homegrown, Splore and BDO. Do you have a favourite summer festival?

We were lucky enough to play Rippon Festival this year – it’s a one day music fest set in a beautiful vineyard in the south island of New Zealand. 5000 people sit on the hill at the foot of which is the stage, and behind that is Lake Wanaka that leads up to giant snow covered mountains and then on up into blue sky – alright!  Or of course Splore Festival (when we played after Lupe Fiasco and before Basement Jaxx!) where the mainstage is on the shoreline…so you can hear and see the bands while swimming in the sea – if so inclined!

Do you have any pre/post gig rituals?

Beforehand Ruth is usually hiding out somewhere warming up her voice by making weird noises – Ryan will be DJing as our support act – and Paul will be trying to convince the bar staff that he actually IS in the band…

The video for ‘Aotearoa’ was really well received; it must have been quite a process to put everything together. Were you expecting such an outpouring of submissions and support?

Honestly, we weren’t! We didn’t know what to expect. We just opened it up to anyone to send in a pic that showed who they are. What represents them – because of the lyric that said ” you and me, we are, a New Zealand”.  At first we thought we’d have to ‘pad’ out the video a bit, but then they started rolling in and our inbox got such a hammering we got worried we wouldn’t be able to fit everyone in! It was a nice problem to have. Its actually quite heavy when you listen to the lyrics but has become a kind of anthem at the live shows. Last week in Dunedin it was like a scene from ‘8 Mile’ – seriously, freaking goosebump moments every show.

I’ve noticed you guys are pretty active on FaceBook, as well as Twitter and MySpace. How have all of these social media changed the way you interact with fans?

The biggest and best change is being able to actually interact with fans. People being able to respond to us, and we can hear their feedback and comments and reply to it, and anyone posts pics from gigs or comments, that’s great. I think that’s why the ‘Aotearoa’ video you mentioned above could work. Which of course brings with it the other side of interaction which is – crazy haters! They’re the funniest though ‘cos if you get into a conversation with them it is never ending..neeeeever endiiiiiiing…………

‘I’m Still Dancing’ recently aired in the US on Grey’s Anatomy, which was great to hear about. Grey’s is such a high-profile show; do you plan to maximize the US exposure, or are you happy just to make an appearance? (And did the Shortland Street [a NZ medical drama] crew come knocking on your door demanding a remix?)

Ah haha – i love that Shortland Street theme – its iconic. Yeah man, Grey’s was such a coup for a kiwi band to get on. And I didn’t realize music was such a debated part of the show. I’ve found blogs and forums online where people discuss the tracks used in each week’s episodes – it’s incredible!  I’m such a newbie, I don’t watch the show but my younger sister follows it religiously and she had to fill us in on the characters…our track plays for a couple of minutes while the action swaps between some intense operating theatre drama and a steamy bedroom scene…ah doctors…how do they keep it up?

FMBIDALDDC sounds much rockier than it’s predecessors. What was it like creating a much rawer, organic sound?
Even though Minuit is often billed as an electronic band, and we use hardware samplers to play live – its all about the songs. When we sit down to make an album we may have a few ideas of how it might turn out, but we’ve found you can’t force the songs so they kinda turn out the way they turn out! Like that acoustic track ‘Vampires’. Ruth sang it and we tried and tried to make it electronic…but in the end it was a rollicking Irish pub tune! And we all loved it so we kept it on the album.  If Minuit sing it and play it, then its still Minuit!  This album really surprised us. It’s heavy man, and it has some epic in it…I find it quite an intense listen.

How do you see your sound developing for the next record?

Haha – I would just have to retract it later if we made a guess now!

Any plans to head back into the studio soon?
Sure is. We’ve got the luxury of being able to make up tunes at home…Ruth has a huge pile of lyrics and ideas sitting there ready to go…we wanna put out the Stop Dancing EPthere’s a story of when the Taliban moved into a part of Pakistan a couple of years ago which had very old traditional dance schools, and Taliban chose to stop people doing certain things. One of those things was dancing, and the head of a well-regarded dance school teacher was found in a ditch near her body. The next day a notice was nailed to the door of another dance school reading: “We have stopped dancing, please, do not knock on our door”. Ruth has always wanted to put that line in a song.  In the “West” we get SO much freedom to go out and dance and do whatever we want – to the extent that its possible to do it so much we can get sick of it!  We’re lucky to have this band. We’re lucky to have the choice. So we’re gonna make a ‘dance’ EP based around all that – watch this spot!

Which artists are you really excited to be listening to at the moment?

I used to really like wall of sound music..but i’m really digging simpleness now, i guess guys like The XX have been pushed forward as purveyors of that recently, making the most of what the song has got, simplifying it, stripping it back, sometimes they can be the loudest tunes! And I’m liking the blend between electro and indie styles..electro has some cool sounds, its fun and kitsch when its retro, but there’s also some great stuff around that is pushing forward and mixing it with other styles and sounds and beats and influences, keep that stuff rolling forwards fellas!

I attended Vector Arena a few years back when you supported The Chemical Brothers – that must have felt like quite an achievement! Do you have any musical heroes you’d like to tour with?
If it was one of those anyone dead or alive questions for Ruth i think she’d say Billy Holiday, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald on the same bill with Ruthi carrying the bags on tour! She’s been inspired heaps by those ladies, overcoming such odds to simply practice their art – like Ms Holiday not being able to eat in the same restaurant as her band cos of her colour, and then being the main attraction in the same venue later that night because of her talent – its not about style, its about character, and THAT character is where their style comes from!

What would you like to accomplish this year?
Goals are good huh – deadlines even better! The Stop Dancing EP…then onto a new album…and in between try and play as many places as we can again, China and Vietnam…I’d quite like to get to the States again – and how about Seattle?

Any last words for our Seattle readers?
Anyone know any cheap accommodation for when we come play?

Watch the video for their latest release, ‘Wayho’ below:

By Nicky Andrews
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