Mimico: The Wavelength Interview

Purveyors of: Spacey, synthy, psychedelic explorations drenched in fuzz and reverb.
File next to: Spaceman 3, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Wendy Carlos
WL 630 (The Class of 2015) Saturday Jan. 10 @ The Silver Dollar AND our 8 Fest co-presentation Saturday Jan. 31 @ Polish Combatants Hall.

Mimico build their music along minimal synth riffs and rhythms that extend beyond the vanishing point. Songs seem to materialize and coalesce like clouds, subtly shifting shape and shades until they evaporate into the ether. I emailed a set of “get-to-know-you” questions to band member Jeremiah Knight. In response I received an almost stream-of consciousness response framed in the present tense detailing their history, relationships and ambitions. The initial questions became more or less irrelevant and so some have been replaced with simple headings framing sections of his response. Their 2012 self-titled album cast a hypnagogic spell on across Toronto, and they’re set to release their follow-up Incantations this coming February.

The beginning: Nick, Jeremiah, then… enter Ben.

Nick [Kervin] (drummer/bassist) and myself, Jeremiah (vocals/guitar), met in December 2003 at a show at the now-defunct Big Bop. We hit it off immediately and I joined [that] band in February 2004… Nick is actually a very talented singer/songwriter/guitarist and was the driving force of that band, which was renamed Easy Targets shortly thereafter. I was lead guitarist and keyboardist. During this time, Easy Targets went through multiple personnel changes, with myself and Nick remaining the core duo of the band.

[Easy Targets dissolves in 2010]

Enter Ben Oginz, Californian-born, analogue synth-prodigy. Late 2010/early 2011, Ben arrives in Toronto after performing as a touring keyboardist for a major-label singer/songwriter… Yes, Ben was on Leno!! Nick tells me about this awesome guy from L.A. who is super into our stoner/prog/ambient leanings and apparently an owner of vintage analogue synths/sequencers, etc… But I shy away. I’m intimidated. This guy sounds too cool for school… A few months pass and we’re [Jeremiah and Ben] at the same show. We meet and immediately click.

How do the early tunes take shape? Can you elaborate on how Mimico finds its “sound”?

We discover a shared love for the Kosmische — ‘70s Germans who tried to realize a completely NEW sound away from the rock trappings of blues and jazz. We literally talk all night and we’re soon recording on my newly obtained Yamaha MT8X 8-track cassette recorder. Our first sessions date from August 2011. By September, I’ve named the project Mimico after a childhood experience I had there, representing my feelings towards ‘80s/’90s suburban Toronto that completely shaped me growing up. The bleakness of this “New Toronto” seemed appropriate to the forward-thinking instrumental sounds Ben and I were creating. That September, we play our first show as an unadvertised in-store performance at Toronto’s Sonic Boom Records at their now-defunct Kensington Market location. Nick is in the audience. Next, we book a show opening for my [Reel Cod Records] cohorts Fresh Snow. Nick is once again in the audience and makes it clear he is interested in joining in any capacity we see fit. Next practice, Nick is there sitting behind the drums. Mimico now is truly born.

Your self-titled release from May 2013 features vocals for the first time as well as more cohesive song-structures. What leads you in that direction?

We continue to perform all-instrumentally. We rehearse in Ben’s apartment. We record everything. Eventually Ben puts a vocal overdub on one or two of the demo recordings. This occurs very naturally, without much conversation. Slowly the songs that appear on our first album (s/t cassette) begin to take shape. We discover we have an incredible intuitive prowess when performing with one another. We decide to allow our songs to breathe with this “openness,” while strictly trying to make everything we do sound neatly planned out — even if it isn’t!! The Yamaha MT8X continues to perform a large role. We start recording our debut in the summer of 2012 on the MT8X, in our rehearsal space on Geary Ave. We record live off the floor to try to capture our live sound/dynamic. The recordings, although varying in fidelity, come about very organically with half the album recorded in a single session on July 10. Soon we find ourselves ready to put vocals on several of the tracks.

Let there be bass…

Enter Ian McPhedran, brilliant musician, engineer, electronics wizard, intellect, and my then bandmate in the now defunct band Ostrich Tuning… In September, Ian begins to meticulously transfer our analogue recordings to the digital realm. He records our vocals in his living room. Songs are sounding great but still missing that low-end… Without much thought, Nick picks up the Ian’s bass. Records an overdub on one of the tunes. NOW its sounds complete! So I dub Nick both Sly AND Robbie and he records bass tracks for the entire record.

Between your self-titled cassette and February’s upcoming Incantations, the sound evolves…

Although we all write individually, Mimico’s songs are always conceived by the three of us, in the same room at the same time. Nobody brings in a song or a riff. In this band, we only riff together. So with Nick technically becoming Mimico’s bassist, he goes out and buys a bass and at practice begins to divide his time between the two instruments. This drastically changes the sound of our material. We begin to rely more upon our electronics (drum machines/sequencer) and this takes us into new territory. I begin to sing more. Ben’s lyrics are coming into their own, creating even more of a science fiction, dark futuristic, cyberpunk backdrop. While my lyrics seem to be more personal…More like the victim of the landscape created in Ben’s “Fate Screen.” Or his character “Lester,” in the song “Incantation.”

Incantations is sharper [than our debut]. More direct. It’s scary there, but love exists there. Mimico are best friends. We love each other very much. We’re family. And that’s gotta play a role. Still, we’re on our own out there.

How does Mimico fit into Toronto’s music scene?

I don’t know how we relate to other Toronto bands. There’s an incredible amount of talented bands in Toronto and Toronto region right now… It’s kind of staggering really. We’re really on our own path finally in the fact we can do what we want and Toronto continues to listen with open ears… A lot of really cool, open individuals here in Toronto and I think we’re poised to explode as a city.

— “Interview” by Po Karim