2015 Artist Survey: Mew

Jonas Bjerre on 2015's Best Albums, Music Streaming, the Election, the Paris Terror Attacks, Star Wars, and Childhood Memories

Feb 15, 2016 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Issue # 56 - Best of 2015 - Father John Misty and Wolf Alice
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For Under the Radar's 13th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2015. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2015 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2015 print and digital issues for answers from Arcade Fire's Will Butler, Julien Baker, Blanck Mass, CHVRCHES, Dan Deacon, The Dears, Dutch Uncles, EL VY, Everything Everything, Father John Misty, Field Music, The Flaming Lips, How to Dress Well, Sondre Lerche, Low, Luna, NZCA Lines, Cullen Omori, Natalie Prass, Small Black, Surfer Blood, Tamaryn, Telekinesis, Vampire Weekend's Chris Baio, The Walkmen, Youth Lagoon, and others.
 
Here are some answers from Jonas Bjerre of Mew. Mew's latest album, +-, was released in 2015 via [PIAS]. A shorter version of this interview ran in the Best of 2015 print issue, which is still on newsstands now. This is the full unedited version of the interview.

Top 10 Albums of 2015
 
In no particular order:
 
Beach House: Depression Cherry
Death Grips: The Powers That B
Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell
Tame Impala: Currents
Arca: Mutant
Mount Eerie: Sauna
Purity Ring: Another Eternity
Dan Deacon: Gliss Riffer
Prurient: Frozen Niagara Falls
Choir of Young Believers: Grasque (Technically not out yet, but it's gonna be amazeballs.)

What was the highlight of 2015, for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?
 
So many highlights: releasing the new album and touring with it. We've played so many shows this year, and there's still so much energy in the band. Everyone is fully embracing touring life and enjoying it. SXSW was a lot of fun. Right now I'm in Tokyo, and that's always a high point! I struggle to think of low points. 

What are your hopes and plans for 2016?

Everyone is kind of itching to work on new music, so I think we'll be doing that fairly soon. There will probably be some touring, but nowhere near as much as this year, so I'm looking forward to doing a lot of writing and work on music and visual art.

With the launch of TIDAL and Apple Music in 2015, there are more streaming music options, but the same issues of adequate artist compensation persist. What are your current thoughts on streaming and which service would you most like to have your music on?

The streaming model has to work, somehow. I can't see what else can be done. You need to look at the individual dealsif you'll notice, the record labels are not complaining as much as the artists. That's probably because they have a pretty good deal with the streaming services. So the revenue is there, and I think the artists need to be clever about what kinds of deals they make with labels and distributors to ensure they see a fair part of that.

What are your thoughts on Friday being the new global release day for albums? Is it helping or hurting album sales?
 
I have no idea. I didn't even know that had happened.

Mainstream pop music is increasingly embraced by indie rock musicians and listeners, as well as serious music critics. At this point, do you draw any distinctions between Top 40 pop and indie rock/pop? Are you comfortable with this shift?

I thought it was kind of interesting in the beginning, a flirt with a more polished aesthetic, and I think a lot of really cool stuff is happening in pop and R&B. I do feel like it's reached a point now, though, where I'm missing a counter-reaction to that whole thing. I am missing substance, especially in the real mainstream stuff. It just becomes increasingly formulaic every year. I am missing some anger.

What are your thoughts on how the 2016 U.S. Presidential election is shaping up?

I like Sanders, but as he himself has stated, a lot more has to happen than a simple election. We need to change the system before it completely exhausts our resources. The class division is ever widening, and that needs to stop. Bankers run the world. That needs to stop, full stop. You guys are not seriously going to elect Trump, are you? I mean... that would just be... surreal.

Ryan Adams covered Taylor Swift's 1989 (and then Father John Misty covered Adams covering Swift). If you were to cover another artist's album in its entirety, which would you pick and why?

It's never really been our thing, doing covers. I don't know. Maybe Jordan: The Comeback by Prefab Sprout. 

Have you ever been fired from a job (be it a day job or musical one)? Why were you fired?

No, I haven't. But I did do a gig once at a high school party with my friend Tobias from Blue Foundation. We were about 16 and played a kind of art rock set in front of people who wanted to dance. They booed us and threw stuff at us. So that was a bit like getting fired.

What's your earliest music-related childhood memory?

Watching Yellow Submarine with my dad. We both really liked the Blue Meanies.

What outrageous request would you most like to put in your tour rider as a joke?

A small, live dragon.

What's the most disastrous date you've ever been on?

Uhm... Probably a play date when I was a kid that didn't work out.

Which Star Wars character are you most like?

I so wanna be Yoda. Grow up to be wise and green. Who wouldn't?

Following the terrorist attack at the Eagles of Death Metal concert in Paris do you think that security at music venues should be improved and do you now worry about something similar happening at one of your shows?

I was in Paris when it happened. It's a terrible development and scary as hell. I do not think we should live in fear. I think NATO needs to investigate Erdo─čan's agenda, I think the U.S. needs to trace where the funding for ISIS is coming from. We all know full well some of the countries involved, and lastly, in the West, we need to somehow give the power back to the people and to the officials we elect to represent us, rather than leaving it in the hands of Goldman Sachs. If we continue to let bankers run the world, we will be in a state of perpetual war.

Which recent anniversary for an album, film, TV show, or historical event has most made you feel old?
 
Back to the Future. What a great trilogy that was. A lot of mainstream cinema has no charm now. It just becomes increasingly generic and polished. 

Mass shootings continue to be a problem, and yet the U.S. government still has yet to take action on curbing gun violence. What are your thoughts on gun control?

I believe gun control is absolutely necessary. Look at other countriesthey don't have this problem. I would understand it a bit better if armed civilians consistently saved the day, but look at statistics. That just doesn't happen!

If you could drop a copy of one album in the inbox of every citizen of the world, what album would it be (besides one of your own)?

Luzmila Carpio's Yuyay Jap'ina Tapes.

How prepared are you for the apocalypse, zombie or otherwise?

Not prepared at all. I've got unpaid bills.

If your house were on fire, what would you grab as you were running out?

My photos, my hard drives with all my work, my Fender Jaguar. 

What's the biggest goal for your life that you have yet to achieve?

I'd like to write a book someday, when I get really old and weathered.
I'll sit there behind my desk, with the look of a bald eagle, and write fiction.

www.mewsite.com

 

 

 



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John Graham
February 17th 2016
7:57pm

How can he speak about the Paris shooting, and in the same sitting call for more gun control in America? Did the gun control laws in Paris stop anyone from dying? I mean even the singer for Eagles of Death Metal has mentioned this.
America has mass shootings, of course, but the deaths from these don’t number over 100 like in Paris, mostly because someone with a gun stops the murderer much more quickly than they did in Paris.
I hate it when I get disappointed by artists.