24/7 VALENCIA: Where did you meet and what are your backgrounds?
MI AND L’AU:: Paris. Mia was into art therapy and modelling, and I was working for a cinema production company. We then flew around, betting on the map, drinking one million bottles of wine, and finally woke up, half-dead, half-ecstatic, by a lake, butt naked, in the forest of Finland. Frontiers were replaced by horizons, walls by birds, cars by clouds, smoke by stars, some scary shit! Everything was upside down, like an old planet that some monster left behind. Anyway, that’s where we learned how to play the guitar. We sent about fifty songs to Michael Gira in New York who came to visit us, Stetson, boots, whisky and all, and signed us. After the recording sessions, off we went, fifteen thousand miles everywhere in the States, three European tours, three UK tours, kind of old-time American school of music. It’s still possible to find pieces of our brain somewhere on the road.
What are your influences (music, films, books, and people)?
The Adagio style in classical music, Nick Drake, Thelonious Monk, Avro Pärt, Chet Baker, Django Reinhardt, Serge Gainsbourg, Mark Hollis, Leonard Cohen, Ligeti, Satie, Nico. Writers like Arthur Rimbaud, Edith Södergran, Bukowski, Céline, Burroughs, Arno Schmidt, Nietzsche, B.E.Ellis, Gilles Deleuze, Plato, Hafiz, Dante, H.Selby, Jr., Li Po, Henri Charrière, Giordano Bruno, Artaud, Kerouac, Huysmans, Dostoyevsky, Mayakovsky, Chuck Palahniuk. The movies of Tarkovsky, Kubrick, David Lynch, John Cassavetes, Harmony Korine, Kim Ki-Duk, Leone, Coppola, Antonioni, Cronenberg, Bergman, Bresson, P.T Anderson, Jarmusch, Abel Ferrara, Kurosawa, Milos Forman, Kazan, Fuller, Chan-wook Park, Melville, Gus Van Sant, Scorsese, Andrew Dominik. Architecture and History in general, the dance of Pina Bausch, the photos of Man Ray, J. P. Witkin, Helmut Newton, the glass of Gynel Nyman, the spider of Louise Bourgeois, the puppets of Annette Messager, the mysterious Talleyrand, the lithographs of Goya, Picabia, the character of Dorian Gray, Schiele, the drawings of Beardsley, impossible to stop the list, but we wouldn’t refuse a late lunch with the boss of them all.
How would you describe your music?
A never-ending discussion between a man and a woman.
It is said that you lived together in isolation for three years in a log cabin by a lake in the middle of nowhere in Finland. What did you learn from it?
‘‘In the middle of nowhere’’, that’s a funny one! It’s almost as poetic as Baudelaire, ‘‘anywhere out of the world’’, except that Baudelaire knew exactly what he was talking about. There are people who apparently don’t. They have just never been there, that’s all. Also – and this is a sweet paradox – by writing about the lake and the cabin, they actually put this lake and this cabin, ‘in the centre of everything’. That’s usually what happens when we talk about something we don’t know anything about. We lived in the middle of ‘Nature’, in the wilderness, something exciting or mysterious or ludicrous when you watch it from a distance, but in a reality a wild energy that you have to listen carefully to, and sometimes obey, if you don’t want to end up like a little rabbit under the wheel of a car. It is all the ghosts in your head, those you can’t escape from, ‘cause if you try they will put you out of your mind. It is your body that can’t work properly unless your madness fights it until it becomes creativity. It is all the perspectives that become one. It is faith in the hand of your enemy. That could easily happen in a big city when you think about it. On Mars. Everywhere. You don’t even know what it teaches you, but one thing is for certain, whenever you find a cross, build a fountain.
Why did you move to Valencia and what do you think about it?
We came to record the second album. Just before that time, we were on the road for a three-year touring period. We felt like two astronauts coming back on earth, kind of a cosmic conquest that leads to personal exile. We were ready for new experiences. Right now, it’s time to visit, enjoy, rebuild the body, and sweat like two beasts in front of our dictionary. One of the coolest moments of all time! The city of Valencia is better than a spa.
Can you tell us a bit about the album you recorded in the Valencia region?
It’s called ‘Good Morning Jokers’. We recorded it in Castellón with Enrique Ara and eleven musicians. The skeleton is the acoustic guitar, the flesh is made of different instruments, such as piano, strings, brass, woodwinds, and an invisible source of electronical sounds for the nerves. Muscles being incorporated in the title. The first album was the result of our isolation, this one is a study of our roots, trying to put the Adagio classical format into songs, trying to understand the French school of piano, integrating free jazz into classical music and folk, dreaming of Dixieland, digging the non-circular way of playing acoustic guitar, lyrics turning around like haiku. We had three days to make it shine. Faster than a deadline, faster than a signature on a cheque… Lovely process. CHANEL have released two ‘‘after making movies’’ (short films on the making of adverts) directed by Anne Rohart, with two of our songs ‘Philosopher’ and ‘Dance on my Skin’.
You lived in Valencia in Spain for a few years and you have now been back in Finland for a fair while. How do the 2 cultures compare?
They don’t (laughs ). Two different territories. Two different kinds of people. Two different languages… And that’s the beauty of it! Our point being: Instead of making comparisons, we’d rather invite people to travel and see the world with their own eyes.
Could you tell us about the making of the album, ‘Four Pair of Wings’?
We don’t really feel that we are “making albums.” It’s just the way we live. We play music, sculpt, paint, draw, photograph, write… At that time, we were by the lake, just walking around in the forest, swimming, having late night discussions with good friends, good food and good wine. One evening, we plugged three microphones in the room and the result is what you hear. You see, this is what songsters do. They play for all those who come for a walk in their garden. Playing music is like having a discussion. And for us, the interest of the discussions, are the ideas that come after. We all live on the brink. Under these conditions, we cannot afford to neglect neither elegance nor delicacy, certainly not spirit. Until the last note, until the last word and, of course, until the last bottle. What’s great about this kind of recording is that you can also visit the garden by listening to the vinyl. The way we did it, as bare and simple as it sounds, we tried our best to give the impression to the listener that (s)he is in the same room as we are when the music is being played. And hopefully after (laughs )…
Take us through the tracks…
It’s about forgetting everything you know, everything you’ve learned, everything you think you know, everything you believe to be true or false, even forgetting the images, the symbols, the words and the alphabets, getting yourself into a state of mind where it’s possible to reach an unknown shore. It’s a way to establish the conditions of a new beginning… Some kind of a delirium tremens if you will (laughs)
Here, the only thing left is your mother tongue. It comes back to you like a whisper. A whisper that tells you that what matters the most is how well you walk through the fire.
Love in this song is nothing but a ticket. A bus ticket, a train ticket, a plane ticket. A simple ticket that wants to be in your pocket. Do you remember this song by Jacques Brel – Ne me quittes pas – ? Love is ready to become the shadow of your shadow, the shadow of your hand, the shadow of your dog… Well, here, it’s the same, in order to be by your side, love is ready to be a ticket in your pocket. It’s incredible how love can be humble… sometimes.
It’s about the delusion of grandeur. We met many successful people who thought, that because of their success, they were geniuses. But we also met many unknown people who had the conviction of having a great but unrecognized talent or insight, people who believed they had made important discoveries that others didn’t understand nor appreciated. Fact is, we all are simple mortals. So, the best is to go back to work before you can’t do anything about it anymore, even taming something as peaceful as a white piece of paper.
Four Pair of Wings
The fact that we fall doesn’t mean we should forget to fly. Life is fragile, but this fragility must not become a weakness. In consequence, let’s take some risks, fly as high as we can, enjoy the landscape, and laugh about it.
Under My Shoe
Someone asked us if we were talking about God! Not at all. We were playing the guitar and a cat came around and walked everywhere in the house. So it’s just a story about a cat walking around us while we play music for this very elegant feline. Strangely, it already happened to us in Kansas City, in 2006, when we played a gig at THE PISTOLS. Mira was singing a song called CAT, and a beautiful cat came out of nowhere and sat under her chair. We also had a white cat visiting us when we lived in Valencia. A wild, white cat. You have plenty of cats in Valencia. Valencia is the city of cats, like Kingston is the city of dogs. And that’s a fact (laughs).
Love asking love to fight for love. And vice and versa.
It’s difficult to see people falling around you when there’s nothing you can do to help nor rescue. So, one more time, when something is going wrong, when we might fall, when we don’t know what we’re doing here anymore, Mira and I, we look at each other, and our eyes always smile, cause we know, deep inside, that there is no turning back. We smile. The kind of smile that says: A TUMBA ABIERTA … And then, it’s always the same – although we never knew exactly why, nor until when – we fly again.
Sleep Now Little One
To rest is sometimes the best way to put your demons away. Tomorrow will be strong, and we will turn those little devils into pets!
Imagine that you take a walk and at some point you see a red river. What do you do? Your turn to answer…
One last question before we all go back to this red river. Do you have any recording and touring plans?
Yes, sir. There’s no end to this roller coaster (laughs…)
Interview by Owl
Mi and L’au photo copyright Rafa Monzo
You can hear the latest album ‘Nutrisco & Extinguo’ by Mi and L’Au via: https://miandlau.bandcamp.com/
For more info: https://www.facebook.com/wearemiandlau