Monday, 1 November 2010

Middle Boop Focus : Brighton with Mirrors

When you consider Brighton's musical heritage, you might struggle to find a distinct sound that characterises its exports – unlike, say, Manchester or Sheffield. In fact, you might struggle to identify any musical heritage at all, apart from... um, Fatboy Slim? But ask any resident of this sea-side city, and they'll tell you that while there might not be a particularly homogeneous scene, there are countless up-and-coming acts whose originality, talent and determination are contributing to the timely vindication of Brighton's musical reputation.

In the first of a series of interviews with some of the city's most promising exports, I caught up with well-groomed synth-pop band Mirrors ahead of their independent club night at New Hero. While singer James confesses he is “not really aware of many other bands in Brighton”, Mirrors seem keen to assert their place at the forefront of the city's musical culture. It's an unsurprising sentiment from a band who have coined the phrase “pop-noir” to describe their sound, but while James admits a certain cynicism of the Brighton music scene, he concedes, “We're very proud of coming from Brighton, and we do reference the place quite a lot”.

“The thing is, we do quite like the idea of being in our own little bubble – we sort of consider it our own little world, what we do, so we sort of don't really let many other people into that, if you know what I mean.” But don't be misled: for all their aloof posturing, James, despite himself, comes across as positively personable, and their retreat into their so-called bubble an inevitable corollary of their admirable work-ethic.

I want to know what James thinks will inject some credibility into Brighton's musical legacy.

“Well this is what we're trying to change, doing these club nights. We have a chance. It only takes a bit of imagination and you can do amazing things.”

Tegan MB: I read that you wanted to do a residency at New Hero.

James: Yeah, well we're going to do this every month now. We're hoping to get around a hundred and sixty to two hundred people in tonight, which isn't bad, for a local band, but we'll try to expand it. If people keep coming back, we'll keep thinking up new ideas. We just want to offer people an alternative night to your Digital, one pound entry and a few cheap drinks. There'll be quite unusual music playing upstairs every night, DJ's – tonight we've got an artist who's going to be doing some painting over the course of the evening. It's going to be French themed, as far as I know. It just makes it a little bit more interactive, and a bit more fun – and plus, it's only a quid to get in.

Tegan MB: The thing about New Hero, though, is that not many people seem to know that it's here.

James: I think it's partly because a lot of the venues are run by the same promotion company and it's sort of monopolised the whole of Brighton. This little venue here isn't part of that, which I think was what sort of drew us to it, because it's really well situated, but without all that usual bullshit that comes with playing most venues. We can literally run it as we want it, so that's... a good and a bad thing.

Tegan MB: So you're hoping as your reputation grows you'll attract more people?

James: Well we're hoping to get a lot of students involved when they come back in September; these are sort of trial runs. Next month, I've got a friend of mine who can curate the evening for us, he's like a director, so it should be more professional, more theatrical.

Tegan MB: Will there always be a theme?

James: I'm not sure, today's theme came about just because it's Bastille Day, and we thought, why not? We like French cuisine, we like French poetry – I'm not sure we'll always do themes, but we'll try not to repeat ourselves too often.

Tegan MB: So have you planned very far ahead into the future?

James: Well I've got lots of little ideas, but you know, it takes time. In terms of our own show we want to keep things moving. Obviously we'll play at every one of these little nights. Tonight we're trying to do a live techno experiment... for about eight minutes. We'll see what happens there!

Tegan MB: Do you not think, with all the hype surrounding you at the moment, you might get a bit too big to carry on playing this night?

James: Well that was always our idea – if we're pushing people away... people will know you'll have to be early. I don't think we'd want to upgrade it; I always think it's cooler playing smaller shows. And it would be nice, if our reputation were to get bigger, to keep this as our little place.

Tegan: So what's in store for the rest of the year?

James: Well the record's being mixed in New York now, that'll be out next year; our single's out this month, called Ways To An End, we've got a tour with some very exciting bands, so we're very busy.

Tegan MB: I saw you in January supporting Delphic at Audio. Obviously Delphic have this huge hype surrounding them, being lauded as the next big thing. Do you think that's a negative thing?

James: No, I think it was the perfect tour for us at the time. Our live set has been a long time evolving, so it was really good, getting us around the UK and, you know, they asked us so we're really lucky that people out there like what we're doing.

Tegan MB: But do you think it puts people off, being associated with that kind of eighties revival scene?

James: I know what you mean, but to be honest, I always thought Delphic sounded more nineties... But as I said, I hope our shows kind of speak for themselves, because we always try to surprise people. Hopefully it doesn't matter who we play with, as long as we are who we are.

Mirrors will be on tour with OMD this month.

Words : Tegan Rogers

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