Ahead of their show at the Corner Hotel this evening to kick off their Australian tour, we managed to shoot a few questions with Miami Horror founder/producer Benjamin Plant. Enjoy!
T-Rex: You guys have been around for over a decade now, starting out as Benjamin’s one-man project. How did the Miami Horror we see today come about and evolve?
Benjamin Plant: At the end the of the day I see Miami Horror as a somewhat collaborative project that I am kind of like a ‘director’ for. We have the recorded music and the live show which are both different sides of the project, both evolve in different ways. Miami Horror for me has always been about a vision or concept and finding a way to execute it, kind of like a movie there are a lot of moving parts that need to come together. It’s always had that dichotomy however Im trying to bring it closer together. Currently we have a six piece live show which is my favorite iteration so far because it allows for both female and male vocals and to get closer to the original feel of the recorded music. Something which was a lot harder as a 4 piece band.
Can you paint us a picture of what your first live gig was like aa a full band? Do you remember the emotions and crowd?
It's hard to remember the emotions but it was a lot of our friends in the room os that was fun. It was at a 161 reunion in melbourne. I’d been ‘Dj’ing’ and remixing for a long time already(3-4yrs) but this was the first time the show came together. We used a lot of backing tracks and were just trying to figure out how to do it haha, I’m sure we were pretty terrible.
Have you got a favourite song to play live?
I think the songs that have the strongest reaction end up being your favorite (Sometimes), but I also like ‘Echoplex’ from the first album too as it is more original and takes the listener on a bit of a journey.
Illumination holds a special place in the hearts of so many fans and captures a real sense of nostalgia whilst remaining timeless, there’s really nothing quite like it. What inspired you to create such a unique record at the time?
I've really started to appreciate and see that, it is a big piece of what has sustained us for so long. It honestly was a huge amount of hard work and really really pushing to get each song to the place I ‘felt’ like it should be. Something that is a lot easier when you’re young and inspire. I guess the music that was around us at the time had lots of variety, we were immersed in a scene that celebrated a diverse mix of genres, rather than splitting off like it has now and was before. That combined with a bit of a hatred of generic ‘love story’ and self indulgent lyrics inspired me to want to create an original mood and feeling. A friend recently played it back at his house and I remember how it felt to make something like that. I can finally say I'm proud of it.
Sometimes, I Look To You and Holidays are just about ten years old now and get a good work-out on your live sets, do you look for ways to tweak them live to keep them fresh?
We kind of keep them the same, I wouldn’t know how to change them up at this point after hearing them for so long. I think “Sometimes” could definitely do with a 10year anniversary version that could be a little more dancey, who knows (but thanks for reminding me) It's so hard to go back when you’re looking forward.
You followed up Illumination 5 years later with the incredible All Possible Futures, which shifted your sound a bit. Was All Possible Futures always planned to move slightly away from the disco/house sound to incorporate more of your live instrumentation?
Yeah mainly because of the live band and how we were writing in a more collaborative manner, there became more voices in the mix and more intentions. I wanted to make an album that covered every base that people could expect to follow up illumination! It was hard! Now I think that we got over that hump and the band is becoming more of my thing again I’m moving slightly back to more ‘production’ based music or music that I would have created had I not been thinking about the live show.
You guys toured All Possible Futures everywhere and soon after dropped Shapes, was that EP a result of writing on tour or had they been a few songs in the bank you wanted to get out?
We had started working on it as soon as APF was finished. It actually kind of was a result of touring and listening to a lot of TALKING HEADS, I also found a bunch of other similar artists from that era, percussive and African influenced music at the time. One of our favorites off All Possible Futures was actually “Out Of Sight”. We had also discussed becoming ‘more of a band’ and I felt like it made sense give these other factors. The Shapes was ultimately a bit of a side project, there wasn’t a point in doing a whole album like that and we acknowledged that it would be a shock. We were trying something completely out of our comfort zone, separate to the long term sound of MH. I still love it but at the same time can’t wait to make get back to being in my comfort zone musically hahaha.
Wouldn’t mind talking a bit about Restless and Luv Is Not Enough. Both songs are stunning in production and writing, how did you go about crafting these two singles?
I’d been listening to a lot of down tempo funk artists along with soulection mixtapes, kaytranada, Anderson paak etc. I fell in love with the production, sound and colour of these artists because they were doing what I was always going for but had avoided for a few years. There was that whole era of “deep house” in the 2012-2015 period that just wasn’t my thing and finally I had started to be inspired again by these new artists who sounded more classic. So Restless & Luv were part of experimenting in that direction. Simplifying the production was also a huge part of these new songs. I wanted it to be clean but huge. Whereas All Possible Futures was far more textured and roughly layered.
Clear Mortifee features on Luv Is Not Enough and her vocals add a real warmth to the track, how did she get to featuring on your single? I had written the instrumental and hook then we jumped into the studio with 3-4 other writers coming up with little pieces of the vocal puzzle. Clear came in and finished the verses with us and they sounded so good on the track that we couldn’t see it any other way.
Restless is a gorgeous track and has a real summer feel, is this the style you are wanting to replicate in the new album? What should fans expect with the upcoming LP?
I guess besides this funk and jazz influence I really wanted to get back to the other side of what Miami Horror is. The “Sometimes”, “Moon Theory”, illumination feel. Try to create the nostalgic mood and be a bit more adventurous with lyrics but in a completely new way.
Final question is for our readers, what is one album that everyone should listen to at least once in their lifetime? Im feeling nostalgic, so lets say Air - Moon Safari - although it does feel a ‘lil’ cheesy these days it was quite original for its time.