Happy To You and happy to be here: Miike Snow are back with a big, bold, bright, colourful album bristling with tunes and (break)beats and ideas and more tunes – yes, that is an orchestra, and fo’ sure, that is a marching band – and it’s not so long since they were last here. They had started the band as an ad hoc side-project between other jobs – Wyatt had been working with Mark Ronson; as producer-writers Bloodshy & Avant, Winnberg and Karlsson had been cranking out the dancefloor hits such as Britney Spears’ ‘Piece Of Me’ and ‘Toxic.’ They ended up with an album that was synced over 200 times in Hollywood and beyond.
But the out-of-the-box success of the ubiquitous ‘Animal,’ ‘Black & Blue’ and ‘Silvia’ – still playing on a radio or computer game or film soundtrack near you now – kinda took them by surprise. They toured the world for 18 eye-watering months in support of the album, their global performance schedule stretching endlessly before them, a yellow-brick-road of adventure, as the Jackalope galloped away with them. Miike Snow did some 260 shows, initially lugging their own gear into a shitty van but eventually gliding round the world with crates of cutting-edge gear in a shiny hover-bus with wings (or something).
The trio went from the dizzy foothills of Later… With Jools Holland. “The first time on the show we played with Smokey Robinson,” recalls Wyatt, “and you can’t get higher up on the mountain than Smokey. Then there was Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, The Dead Weather, Basement Jaxx. Now that was competition.
They scaled the giddy heights of 3000 capacity clubs in Columbia and Chile, “hundreds of people singing along to every song,” remembers Karlsson. “And that was before the record was even out!” And they crested the peaks of some of the world’s greatest festivals, from Coachella to Glastonbury.
But finally, Miike Snow came off the road last spring, and went straight into the studio in Stockholm. They thought it would take a year. They didn’t care.
“We were starving to be in the studio again,” says Karlsson, “because before Miike Snow we were in the studio every day for ten years. So being on the road was very new to us.”
“The studio is kinda like our home,” adds Winnberg. “Prior to touring with Miike Snow, from about 15 years old I think I was in the studio pretty much every day – more than I was at home. So it’s a little bit of a safety zone. And also, after touring with the band, it felt we had so many ideas about how to move on musically. So we had that added urge to begin fucking around with that.”
The writing and recording of their debut had taken place in fits and starts. Wyatt would fly back and forth between Stockholm and New York for a few snatched weeks at a time. “Nobody really had any expectations with the first album,” admits Wyatt. “We knew we wanted to make a record but we didn’t know anything beyond that. We didn’t know if we would find anyone who would want to manage us as a band or put our record out.”
But this time, buoyed by the success of that accidental album, things would be different. Wyatt relocated to Stockholm. The move made sense musically, and also personally.
Bunkered in their own studio – named Robot Mountain, and housed in the stables of a hundred-year-old former fire station – Miike Snow were fired by the spirit of inventiveness. The songs came thick and fast. They worked together, and alone, and in rotation.
“We know how to do a lot of different things, so why do the things that you’ve already done?” says Wyatt, explaining the ceaseless sense of adventure on Happy To You – organic meets electronic, whistling meets raving, and no guitars allowed. “I think sometimes you can gain from taking away options… And it’s nice to try do some weird things – juxtapose things that shouldn’t work on paper.”