by Bri LaPelusa
Listening to electro-dream poppers Miami Horror is a somewhat visual experience, their music conjures up images of pulsing lights, sweat, and swirling psychedelia. The band’s recent Chicago performance incorporated all aspects of this ocular listening experience—plus stage diving, amp climbing, and synchronized hand clapping. Frontman Benjamin Plant was able to take a break from touring to catch up via e-mail with UR before their show at Lincoln Hall on the 25th. Plant talks dreams, surrealism, and Vegemite— the interview follows below.
UR Chicago: Your music is very dreamy, often referred to as “psychedelic electro-pop”— do you draw any inspiration from your dreams?
Miami Horror: I wouldn’t say I take inspiration from my actual dreams, I guess occasionally you have a strange dream and maybe try to recreate the feeling a little. But for me the inspiration or dreaminess of our sound comes more from trying to inspire listeners to use their imagination or dream. When we first made the later part of the album, especially the psychedelic-esque interludes between “Soft Light”' and “Illuminated," we used to listen to it in the dark and it had a really strong atmosphere to it. Doing that with any music really puts a different spin on it.
UR: Your sound and aesthetic has a certain surrealistic quality—what aspects of reality do you like to manipulate or “test” most?
MH: I think that is a really good way to describe it—that is pretty much an integral part of the concept of the album, however I still don't know how to answer this… I think any surrealism all stems from the subconscious and explored autonomously without a direct aim. I like the feeling surrealism brings. I actually wanted to explore it a lot more in clips [from] “Moon Theory," however once you hand the production over to someone else you lose that control a little bit.
UR: Your music videos are both visually and conceptually striking—do you keep a specific image or “vision” in mind when creating your music?
MH: Sometimes, some songs stem from a visual idea or thematic element and then we take the song further in that direction. Like with "Sometimes," Dan and I had imagined this futuristic world where two people were trying to escape and were being chased, consequently losing each other in this process. It was based around the old movie Logan’s Run, though the clip didn't exactly have this vibe the song lyrics and sound were thematically based on it.
UR: How much do you think your videos transform the music and vice versa?
MH: Videos are good for reinforcing the feeling or emotion of a track, again usually the themes of a song. It helps put an image or story to a song for those people who don't imagine one themselves. So far it has usually made a song emotionally stronger and the reception greater.
UR: What sort of immediate reaction or emotion to your music do you hope to evoke in listeners?
MH: Every song is different — I don't think there are any specific emotions we aim for.
UR: What part of touring have you enjoyed most?
MH: Just seeing places and things that we'd never see otherwise. There are many strange characters and places in America and in some ways its strangeness can be quite inspiring.
UR: What difference, if any, is most notable between your American and Australian crowds?
MH: It's hard to pick a difference at the moment, it seems everyone has been really into our live shows since the album came out.
UR: Can you cite a favorite or unforgettable performance? What made it so memorable?
MH: Playing in Santiago, Chile to 1500 fans was amazing. They knew everything back to front, girls were climbing the stage trying to kiss everyone… I’ve never seen a show that crazy in my life— the complete Beatles treatment.
UR: So, is it really true that all Australians like Vegemite?
MH: I think you'd find about 9/10 people do, so yes. Considering only about 1/10 foreigners like it.