2011 Artist Survey: Miracle Fortress | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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2011 Artist Survey: Miracle Fortress

Jan 26, 2012 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

For Under the Radar’s 9th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2011. Pick up a copy of Under the Radar’s Best of 2011 Issue for Artist Survey responses from !!!, Acid House Kings, The Antlers, Art Brut, Beirut, Blonde Redhead, Camera Obscura, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., The Dears, Rose Elinor Dougall, The Drums, The Duke Spirit, Elbow, EMA, The Horrors, I Break Horses, Islands, Little Dragon, My Brightest Diamond, Nada Surf, Marissa Nadler, of Montreal, Okkervil River, Peter Bjorn and John, The Rapture, The Rosebuds, SBTRKT, S.C.U.M, and Vivian Girls. 

There are even more survey responses in the digital version of the issue, and we are also posting more surveys on our website. Here’s a survey from Miracle Fortress.


Graham Van Pelt

Miracle Fortress

Top 10 Albums Listened to in 2011


I really don’t keep up with releases year-in/year-out, so I can’t answer this unfortunately. I can list some of the things I actually listened to this year instead if you like:
1. Peter Gabriel: III (Melt)—This is without a doubt the record I played most this year.  I had an extremely intense experience hearing “Intruder” stoned through headphones the first few times. Totally changed my approach to making songs for the rest of the year. I still skip “Start” though. I need to work on that.
2. Brian McBride: The Effective Disconnect—I love a lot of ambient music but haven’t really liked much of the current stuff I’ve heard. Stars of the Lid are my favorite band and this record is close to much of their best work for me. This record is on any night I’m reading at home. These guys are craftsmen.
3. Sound Stream: Various Singles—This guy has a great ear making the kind of atmospheric house that I sometimes try to incorporate into my songs. I failed to get any of my friends on board with him but I love the stuff, which means it’s always on headphones. I really wish I knew a club in Montréal that would play things like this and people would dance to it.

4. Todd Terje: Ragysh—This one actually came out this year, which is helpful. All the stuff on here is really well realized melodically and moves very well. Great stuff for travel.  
5. Cyril Diaz & His Orchestra: Voodoo EP—Soundway reissued this recently, maybe this year. I don’t know. I think it’s supposed to be 45 rpm but I listened to it at 33 all summer and it haunted my apartment. 45 is too busy for this; it needs a good relaxed groove.
6. DJ Shadow: What Does Your Soul Look Like?—I was obsessed with Endtroducing for years and found this 12” in a record shop in London. It has some tracks I didn’t previously know that are totally at the level of his best stuff. It’s too bad he had to change so much. Hearing the first side of this felt like having an old friend come back from the dead to hang out for the afternoon.
7. Earl Sweatshirt: EARL—I liked this one quite a bit for a while before the whole thing became this horrible shitstorm, although I suppose the shitstorm is what brought the music to me in the first place. I really think going to one of their shows in 2012 will be like a circle of hell. Cool music on this, Rolling Papers and Bastard though. It was a fun moment.
8. Grimes: Oblivion—Seeing her live has become really fun and this one is exactly the kind of direction I’d hoped she’d take. She’s opening with this one at shows now and the feeling is amazing.
9. Sol Hoopii: Master of the Hawaiian Guitar Vol. 2—This is the kind of thing that is so wonderful and precious that who could ever care about hearing all the new ‘indie’ bands every week. I just don’t see how there’s time for that when you could be playing this and living the good life.
10. Tauchen-Prokopetz: Codo—I walked into a junk shop in Berlin that was playing this and I had to have it immediately. I hate buying maxi-singles so this will probably be the only one I ever own. Everybody I play it for loves it for the first couple of minutes and then gets irritated but I think it’s a classic.

What was the highlight of 2011 for you and/or your band?

Finally seeing a new Miracle Fortress record come out was definitely a big highlight in my life. It had been years since the last one and there was a great catharsis to it. Big weight came off my shoulders. Now I’m writing tons of stuff and having fun again.

What was the low point of 2011 for you?
I can’t think of much personally. I’ve been to too many terrible North American airports. You are essentially held captive inside of a cathedral of capitalism. What a shake down.

What are your hopes and plans for 2012?
I’m making an album right now and I’m really trying to make sure it comes out before next winter. I’m going to work extremely hard on that. I also want to make more videos and learn a little more about filming them so I can do my own for the new record.
What are your thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street protests? Do you stand with them? Are they accomplishing anything?
It’s certainly an exciting moment. I just hope they can turn out a few candidates or at least remember to get everybody to vote.
Several stages collapsed in 2011. Are you worried about festival safety? What else can be done to make stages and festivals safer?
I’m not really sure. I never heard the whole story on whether the stages and setups are declining in quality or if it was just a freak thing. Most of the festivals I go to are well run by good people. I would expect they’re doing everything they can.
Has it become less financially viable to survive as an independent band this year?
I think it’s getting more difficult every day, which is why I’m probably just going to do a more-or-less ‘solo’ project for the rest of my life. The important thing is to make all the music you can make and not get in over your head.
Which album would you like to see a band play in its entirety?
Dr. Dre 2001 with all the guests. Definitely will never happen.
Which song do you wish was being played in the delivery room while you were being born?
“Energy Flash” by Joey Beltram.
What’s been the best day of your life so far and what’s been the worst?
I think it might be the day I moved to Montréal when I was 21. Felt like home for the first time in my life is the huge cliché. Worst was probably one where I spent too long on the Internet.
Who has better taste in music, your mom or your dad?
I think my dad does but only because Mom worked for Loreena McKennitt and seems to have received Loreena’s entire discography, which can be problematic.  
What’s the smartest decision you’ve ever made in your life?
Leaving my hometown without rushing into college.
What would be the title of your autobiography?
Volume 1 would be I Am Not Graham. Volume 2 would be I Am Graham.

Which two artists, not including yourself, would you like to see collaborate with each other?
SAW-era Aphex Twin with Kate Bush.

Who’s the best lyricist in indie rock (besides yourself)?
Vic Chesnutt.
Which band, besides your own, has the best name?
Jichael Mackson.
Are there any songs that make you tear up? Which ones?
Tear up is a little extreme. Maybe an entire Paul Van Dyk Ibiza set.

If you heard that the world was ending who would be the first person you’d call?
Besides your parents, who has been most influential in your life?
The cool older kids from my high school days.
What do you wear to bed?

What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told?
Probably something bad I’ve blocked out for now.
Will you go to your next high school reunion? If you’ve already been to one, what was it like?
No and I see all the high school faces every year at Christmastime which is far more than enough.
In general, do you consider new communications technology to be a good thing or something that further separates us from real human interactions?
I think the project is ongoing.
What is the biggest hindrance to your creativity?
Which song would you like to hear on your deathbed?
“December Hunting for Vegetarian Fuckface” by Stars of the Lid.

In 2011, what was the best movie you saw, book you read, comic book you read, video game you played, and/or TV show you watched?
I don’t know yet.

Do you have any other thoughts about the current state of the world or the state of the music industry?
I don’t think so.



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