Our guest writer Alexia Kauffman of The Torches enjoyed Miami Horror’s show so much the first time they played DC that we asked her if she’d like to interview the band’s creator for us in advance of their return this weekend.
Miami Horror is the electro/disco-pop creation of Australian DJ/producer/artist/musician, Benjamin Plant. Originally a solo endeavor by Plant, Miami Horror has grown into a full band and has done remixes for Gorillaz, The Presets & Bloc Party to name a few. Miami Horror is currently on an extensive world tour promoting their 2010 EMI release “Illumination”.
These charming gents played U Street Music Hall last year and their show was super fun, energetic, and a little goofy. They are returning to U Street Music Hall this weekend. If New Order and Air met at Studio 54 and had a torrid affair, Miami Horror would be their futuristic disco love-child. We Love DC was lucky enough to catch up with Ben for a chat amidst the band’s insane tour schedule; fresh off a week that included shows in Mexico City and Austin’s SXSW music festival.
Alexia Kauffman: Was there music in your family? What was typically playing in the house when you were growing up?
Ben Plant: I wouldn’t say my family was really musical but my Dad used to play guitar as a hobby, he made up his own weird method of playing, so I probably started there playing his guitar early on Saturday mornings. When me and my younger brother were growing up we just used to play the funnest sounding records in our parents’ collection. Usually “Mamma Mia” by ABBA and also lots of Prince.
AK: What music first sparked your interest in becoming a musician yourself?
BP: I think it was more the possibility of creation and expression that sparked my interest in art in general. I preferred music and design because you could do it solely by yourself and didn’t have to rely on other people like in the film industry, etc.
AK: When did you first start playing music? When did you start writing your own music?
BP: I had played the saxophone since I was about 10 and started playing guitar again when I was 13. I guess I started writing random bits and pieces from there. Then I got into early music technology and making music on computers from about 14.
AK: What was the process like for you, writing and producing this amazing album?
BP: Oh thanks, it’s hard to put it into words. It was LONG! And hard. I had been holding on to many of the songs since early days. They were probably the hardest to work on as they were made as instrumentals etc. I think we spent way too long perfecting and mixing the album, something which should be a lot quicker and more efficient next time. We’ll probably work with an outside engineer to do the final mixing. Whereas for this album the mixing and production was part of the creative process for me.
AK: What is the music scene in Melbourne like?
BP: The general music scene is Melbourne is pretty happening but still quite small. It seems to be most of the bands are very “Melbourne”, meaning they don’t get much support outside of that, which is unfortunate. It’s our hometown so we get a lot of support and play to our biggest crowds there.
AK: What do you miss most about home/Melbourne?
BP: Just friends, family, and not having to move around every day. It’s awesome to be able to relax and just write music.
AK: What was the process of getting a live band together/translating this into a live show?
BP: Initially it was hard to translate the songs from the EP to live, that’s why we started to change the sound of the music as we wrote the album. I let everyone into the writing process a lot more and opened up to using more guitar and creating our own songs together. Once we allowed that to happen the live show came a lot easier.
AK: What has it been like being on the road with the band/touring?
BP: It’s been really good, it took a few years to get the live show to a level we were happy with, but it finally got there and now we’re just enjoying playing it.
AK: What kind of response have you had from audiences?
BP: We’ve had pretty good responses so far, it seems whenever we play somewhere we haven’t played yet everyone gets pretty excited.
AK: Best tour experience so far? Worst?
BP: Our first live show in Santiago, Chile was the best show we’ve ever played. The crowd knew every song, it was huge, the biggest show we’ve played outside of Australia, about 20 girls managed to jump on stage and try kiss everyone while we were playing. The worst experience was playing our first show in Austin last year, at a crappy unprepared event at Phoenix bar. They had no proper backline for us, took hours to set up the stage (which they wanted to set up in front of the speakers), the support act finished 2 hours later than they were meant to and took about 1 hour to sound check, our keyboard shorted and finally we got on stage at 2am instead of 11pm, when the venue was supposed to close. We felt so bad for everyone waiting.
AK: Are there any artists around right now that are really exciting to you?
BP: I really like the Toro Y Moi album, was listening to Tame Impala, Ariel Pink and Dungen most of last year. Still waiting on this year’s many surprises. Enjoying some of the new Cut Copy album also.
AK: Do you have plans for recording your next album?
BP: Well we won’t start it until later this year, we want to see where music is heading and also think about the direction of the album before we really start writing anything.
AK: Has the tour experience/playing with a live band changed anything about how you make music yourself/plan on making music in the future?
BP: Yes we focus more on making the music live playable, less produced more organic and raw sounding mixes etc. That became more apparent on the newer songs of the album and throughout the album writing process. I personally write quite different now after the whole experience, but it’s about keeping it balanced with what we did on the last album and prior to that. I have to be careful not to lose the sound that Miami Horror is.