Mica Levi (Micachu) first met Raisa Khan and Marc Pell (The Shapes) as students at the Guildhall School Of Music in London. But don’t dismiss the trio, known collectively as Micachu And The Shapes, as a self indulgent product of formal music education; all grandiose ideals, clunky mantras and an aversion to accessibility. Theirs is a skewed brand of glorious lo-fi mud that marries sonic experimentation with an exuberant, life affirming pop bent. The band’s debut album the Matthew Herbert Produced “Jewellery” compels feet to move yet is peppered with bleeps, white noise glitch and…vacuum cleaners. Pedestrian recently caught up with the band to discuss Bjork endorsements, future plans and inventing instruments.
Bjork premiered your video for “Turn Me well” last year. How did that come about? Yeah we were very excited. She came to a show we played in London about a year ago . She said she heard our CD and came along. She seems really great.
How has studying composition at Guildhall informed your songwriting process? The guildhall is a very open environment to study music, it really helped me to contextualize and evaluate music. We all did very different things in our time there so I think that the fact we are in a band together reflects the Guildhall attitude towards open music-making.
What are you working on at the moment? We are sitting on St Kilda beach in Melbourne talking about how life sucks. We are annoyed that we spent our money on an ice cream instead of a super smoothie.
How have you found Australia, any memorable experiences yet? The ‘Liberty Bells’ in Melbourne were lovely, as was the National Gallery; some fine carpentry by Ricky Swallow. And Grizzly Bear played an engrossing set at The Corner on Tuesday.
Because you’ve all studied composition formally does that make the songwriting process easier or harder because you all have such strong ideas? Well we all studied composition but not songwriting so this is all fairly new. With the songs we usually just follow the typical verse chorus structure which is much different to writing either in a classical format or writing dance music so this limitations makes it a bit easier. Because of studying electronic music and modern classical music I guess we’ve learnt to think more about timbre and rhythm etc rather than just melody and accompaniment.
How did you start to make instruments? Initially it was my infatuation with Harry Partch. But mine are really really crap. Its mostly just that I enjoy building things with found objects and wood and old guitar parts. Also when you use an instrument which is unfamiliar to write songs with you find you self less uninhibited and less reliant on traditional techniques and intonation.
What have you been listening to at the moment and how would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard your music? Generally the sound is meant to be fun- a trashy, punky textural mish-mash with pop overtones. We try not to be too serious. In my ipod at the moment is a mix by sub focus for radio one that I’m listening to at the moment. He’s a wicked DJ… We all listen to very different music!
What were your first impressions of each other? Mica used to have long curly hair always in a bun with big silver hoops and used to wear this beige coat and I remember being intimidated by how much she knew about music. But she was always really lovely and used to drop me music through my window and give me a music education. I meant Marc on the day of our auditions for college and we shared a cigarette just before the final talk with the principal. I just remember thinking that the David Beckham curtain style hairstyle was out but he still hasn’t gotten rid of it when we saw each other on the first day of college!
What does it mean to be young and British in 2010? Unemployed
You can see Micachu And The Shapes play this Saturday January 9th (12am-9pm) at the St Kilda Beach Foreshore as part of Sandcastles (Neon Indian, My Disco, Miami Horror and a whole lot more!).
You can purchase tickets online here or through the below vendors:
The St. Kilda Branch: 204 Barkly Street, St Kilda 9078 1104
POLYESTER RECORDS: 387 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy 9419 5137
POLYESTER RECORDS: 288 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 9663 8696
Cushion: 99 Fitzroy St, St Kilda 9534 7575