“Complicated in an uncomplicated way” is how Mieux describe the rhythmic dance, mature electro tones, harmonic beats and drone sounds that combine make their songs. The duo spoke to The Red Bulletin about taking music seriously and how a visit from your dad can change everything.
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THE RED BULLETIN: Your mini-album is called Are you Happy – are you happy today?
FELIX WOLFERSBERGER: I’m just happy that we made it to the interview on time!
CHRISTOPH PRAGER: It depends on what you’re referring to. Professionally we’re very happy, on a personal level as well. But don’t get me started on the political situation right now.
What does happiness mean to you?
FW: As far as our music goes, it’s a wonderful feeling when we’re able to agree on something. [Laughs.]
CP: Being happy is about not being nervous or on the edge. Not worrying about things you can’t influence.
What does the title actually mean?
CP: It’s from a documentary made in 1968, something that Felix found. It’s about two nuns in New York. They walk through the city and ask people if they’re happy. It was very inspiring.
Why only seven tracks?
CP: We didn’t even think about the amount of tracks when making the record. We just wanted to get these songs out there right now, and a whole album would have taken longer.
FW: It’s about being in the moment and putting out something that’s fresh and new. After working on these tracks for almost a year, we didn’t want to wait any longer. You lose that freshness, and the more you work on something the more you begin to doubt your work.
What inspired you to first start making music?
FW: It started with the Detroit Sound, the rolling drums just stood out for me. I have always made music, though. I joined my first band in school with a couple of friends and we used to meet in the afternoons and just make noise. We were a kind of electro-punk-trash-something band. I cut my teeth with that band, both on the stage and in the studio.
Felix, how was your first live performance?
FW: Very chaotic, I even rapped a bit.
CP: What? Really? This is a revelation!
FW: I can remember it like it was yesterday. My dad actually wanted to come to the show, but then he found out that you had to pay. I was on stage and we were playing to about 10 people and he was standing by the entrance. He popped his head through the door, squinted like this [imitates his father] because he can’t see very well. Then he waved at me, turned around and left! He had no desire whatsoever to spend five Euros on our s***. [Laughs.] That’s when I knew that I needed to carry on making music!
So we shouldn’t expect to hear you rapping in the future?
FW: I think that shipped has sailed.
What made you want to make music together?
CP: We started making music together in 2011, remixing R’n’B tracks. Our first official release came out in 2012. We just wanted to have a bit of fun making music at first. We had no plan or target, we just loved music.
FW: We wanted to make something different to our solo projects, to see how far we could test ourselves.
CP: To push our own limits.
How does the creative process work between you two?
FW: It is pretty anti-social, at least at the start. We just sit at home on our computers and work on our own ideas. Once we have something, we let the other know and upload it to Dropbox. Completely unspectacular!
CP: It really is like that!
FW: We don’t have specific roles, though. Our ideas always start differently. Every track is a new beginning.
CP: We’ve been working together in the studio a lot more recently, but there are times when we don’t see each other at all. Dropbox is what connects us!
FW: iMessage is our main way of communicating in those phases. All you hear all day is, ‘ding, ding, ding, ding.’
CP: There have also been songs where we didn’t even meet up to do the mixing. Theoretically, we could live on different continents and still make music together.
FW: But it’s still nice to be able to sit down and talk about things in person.
CP: Absolutely – I do like to work alone, though. I read an article about Kamasi Washington, who was doing something in the studio for Kendrick [Lamar] and he had about five people watching him work. I don’t like that at all. Sometimes you just need time to perfect something, even if it is only 20 minutes. I don’t want to have people sitting next to me listening to the crappy versions!
It looks pretty complicated what you do on stage.
FW: Exactly. It looks complicated, but it’s not at all. We’re pretty stationary up there on stage for a lot of what we do, and this can be a bit boring for the audience. That’s why we developed a way of using as many instruments and devices as possible. Our live shows have a nice flow to them, we’re constantly moving, swapping instruments, crossing over, etc. It’s not complicated, but you need to think and plan a lot about what you actually want to do. If you have time to take a break, then you’re not doing enough.
CP: It’s much easier for fans to identify with what we’re doing on stage. They can see that we’re actually making music and that’s what people want to see. Otherwise it just looks like two dudes hiding behind their laptops.
Your name roughly means ‘better’ or ‘the best’ in French. Was that deliberate?
FW: It’s actually just the names of our two solo projects merged together. We took the MI from Minor Sick and EUX from Feux and it became Mieux.
So nothing to do with lingustic talent?
CP: Oh yeah, we knew what it meant! It comes from the idea of not limiting yourself, about always trying to improve and get better. To learn from the mistakes of our solo projects and be the best we can.
FW: But it’s more about us personally than the music itself.
You can’t help but feel happy after listening to the album – was that the plan all along?
CP: No, not really. I don’t think it’s a traditionally ‘happy’ album, but we did want to create something very harmonic. We deliberately chose sounds like steel drums to play with a mixture of different harmonies. It’s definitely not a dark album, though, that phase of my life, where everything had to be dark and deep is over and Are You Happy is the beginning of a new chapter.
FW: It’s not a shiny-happy album if you listen to it from start to finish. Fishing is pretty positive, but it’s not over the top. It’s a subtle kind of happiness. [Laughs.]
CP: We wanted to create a balance between rhythm and harmonies. You’ll never hear anything cheesy from us.
What’s a good electro track in your opinion? What can you not do without?
CP: I have to be able to sing to it!
FW: Drums are an essential part of a track for me. They’re the foundation of every good tune.
CP: But being able to sing to a song is important!
What about remixing? You’ve already done a few already – is this something you want to do more of in future?
FW: The whole remixing thing has become a bit of a plague recently. A track comes out and within a day there are hundreds of remixes.
CP: I’s become a massive industry, the majors are living off the dreams of young producers. They create remix contests and fish out the best from thousands of entrants and bleed them dry.
FW: That’s why we’re very picky as to what we want to invest our time in.
CP: We’re not into making the typical dance or house remixes, but we’re open to anything if the people behind the music have a vision that fits our own. And feel free to remix our stuff if you want to!