Thursday, September 15, 2011

Milgrom Interview

Milgrom are a promising animated band from Tel Aviv. Their catchy, hook driven tunes bring to mind the more guitar driven music of Stereo Total and euro kitsch of groups such as DAT Politics. That said, the group have a sound all of their own combining elements of punk rock, new wave, 60s bubblegum and electropop. The tremendous music video for the band's debut single "Boy" is a must see for fans of stop motion or animation in general and introduces us to the band members Dolly, Tom and Blank.

Milgrom's debut release "Making Salad" is available for free download from the band's slickly designed website here and is one of the most uniquely enjoyable albums I have heard in recent times. "Blissful Abyss" is an infectious endeavor in soul searching with echoes of early Kinks guitar riffs whilst a French influence can be heard on "Blue Ball The Baird" and the upbeat "Summer". "Hot" continues the dark, cynical tone of "Boy" with unusual lyrics about a couple discussing their physical inadequacies and bodily hair. Perhaps it's because of my love of all things bleak, but it is the sombre closing track "Winter" which I found to be the most powerful and enduring track from the EP.

In addition to their music and animated video, the band have also created an impressive Jam Station arcade machine which allows users to create their own live Milgrom performances. The Jam Station is also available as an iPhone app and can be downloaded here.

I recently interviewed the band about their music, videos and plans for the future:

You have described yourself as an animated band. Could you elaborate on this concept? Who are Milgrom?

Milgrom are Dolly, Tom and Blank. They are stop-motion-animated figures and Milgrom is all about them.

The music is created from their point of view and has a strong relationship with the visual aspect. For instance the video for 'Boy' was created while the song was not completely done, not even fully recorded. We were building the two together piece by piece.

Your debut release "Making Salad" is available to download from your website. Do you feel that making music legally available for free is becoming an increasing inevitability for new bands?

Not necessarily, maybe it is more important for bands like us that don't promote their music in live performances. It's also getting more and more common those days that bands offer the album for free download aside selling it on iTunes and other digital stores. We hope that there will be a good balance and people who do appreciate the music will buy it and support the project this way.

The stop motion animated video for "Boy" must have been a labour of love to make. How long did it take to complete?

It was indeed quite a big piece of labour, and love (and arguments as well). It took about one and a half years of on & off shooting. The video consists of 4740 unique still photos.

Are there plans for more videos like this?

Sure! There are already ideas for some. We did some sketches for a 'Blue Ball' video which will probably be the next we make. Hopefully this time it will not take one and half years to get done.

Despite having a largely contemporary sound, there appears to be strong ties to 60s music on tracks like "Blissful Abyss" and "Blue Ball The Bard". Who are some of your musical influences?

Well, as the title "Making Salad" suggests, we have quite a long list of influences, even if they are not all immediately recognizable. To name a few - Deerhoof, Moloko, Primus, Micachu, Arctic Monkeys, Dat Politics, Cake, Bela Bartok, The Shaggs, french pop stuff and more and more.

"Winter" brings the EP to a close on a darker, more melancholy note than what has gone before. What is the story behind this song?

There's no specific event or story behind it, but more of a general expression of our generation's experience growing up in these crazy times. How we've lost trust in the system, how we start to understand that its all about what WE know and what WE do about it. I guess the tone is melancholy but there is hope and optimism hidden behind it. We're optimistic.

Could you describe how the Milgrom Jam Station works?

The Jam Station is a musical arcade machine we made because we wanted people to mess around with our music and animations. The machine lets players simply mix different loops and sound samples from our songs, or play completely freestyle using an intuitive set of buttons and joysticks. It allows up to 3 people to play together, one on each instrument, the drums, guitar and vocals. It's not only for musicians, though, but also for any music lover who wants to actively experience music in a different, non-linear way. The machine tours around bars and galleries, and kind of functions as our 'live' show. And we just released a special version of the station for iPhone, so now more people can enjoy it!

What's next for Milgrom?

On the upcoming months we'll probably work on more videos for 'Making Salad' songs and soon after we want to start working on the next album. We're also thinking about taking Milgrom to a live stage. But for that we will need to wait until we (hopefully) have enough resources to create a nice technologic-music-animated setup.

Follow Milgrom on Facebook here
Official Milgrom website here