Introducing Interview: MIPSO

Having played shows extensively across the world, North Carolina band Mipso have recently released their latest album Edges Run. 

Taken from the album, new single ‘People Change’ is a beautifully poignant offering. Reflecting on themes of loss, it oozes a twinkling charm, flowing folk-fused melodies and lush harmonies.

We caught up with Libby from the band to find out more…

Hi Mipso, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about the band?
We are a group of four college friends from North Carolina, along with our wayward Wisconsonite drummer Yan. We play about 150 shows a year across the United States and the planet Earth. 

How did you initially all get together and start creating music?
We met when we were about eighteen and looking forward to bright futures in politics, science, academia, etc. Instead, we began playing weekend gigs at local bars and eventually decided to do it full time. Harmony singing was one of the first things we really liked doing together. We also all enjoyed songwriting and song arranging, so we tried to make a band where everyone could contribute to the creation of songs. 

Your new video for ‘People Change’ is out now – can you tell us what it’s all about?
The video is intentionally open-ended in terms of its narrative. In a general sense, it’s about looking back on a relationship of some kind that has ended, quietly rather than with a bang. We wanted a series of images that would evoke that particular dull heartache of nostalgia — the smoky haze that’s left over after the flames of love and rupture have burned away. Jacob had the original song idea about a friend he grew apart from after college, but we wanted the video to be vaguer, because I think one of the strengths of that song is how it feels relevant to range of types of relationships. It has some vivid specificity – “that night in Carrboro”, “I hate when people bring me flowers”, etc – but it calls to mind all the forms that follow that type of memory. Jake McBride’s video takes your mind into all those corners. 

You’ve been compared to the likes of Local Natives and Fleet Foxes, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
I’m very bad at these kinds of questions. The thing is that we all listen to different music, so our influences are more of a melting pot than a single through-line. We were born in the early ’90s, so we had Destiny’s Child, Blink 182 and Third Eye Blind in our ears during some very formative years. Joseph grew up listening to his dad’s Bob Marley and James Taylor records, Jacob got into jam bands via String Cheese Incident, Wood picked up a lot of jazz love from his dad, several of us sang in church choir. I have spent some time trying to play old time and Celtic fiddle, and as a band we have definitely studied harmony singing and arrangements for acoustic instruments via old bluegrass records. These days some artists at the intersection of our music appreciation Venn diagram are Buck Meek, Phish, Joni Mitchell, Wilco, Sandro Perri, Bedouine. 

How is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
Our local music scene is so wonderful it has made it virtually impossible for me to leave this area, even though I’ve been here for about a million years and sometimes I’m so sick of it thatt I don’t want to leave my house. Most of my hometown friends play music around here, and most of my music friends who live elsewhere play here on their tours. I do see a lot of live music, even though sometimes my instincts tell me to stay away from music venues after I get home from tour where I feel like I’ve spent several lifetimes in music venues. Generally though, if I can get over that mental block, I enjoy pretty much every show I go to. And then I get a lot of FOMO when we’re out on the road and I miss the great stuff that comes through; just this past week, Les Filles de Illighadad, who are an incredible Tuareg band from Niger, were here playing a free show in a park in downtown Durham. The week before that we had a great festival called Hopscotch in Raleigh, and I was luckily home to see some of my old favourites like Dirty Projectors and newer favorites like Mega Bog, not to mention an 8-hour series of purely improvisational sets in one of my favourite venues, Neptune’s, which is down in a basement with red lighting and no stage. 

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
I don’t totally know what falls into that category (like remember when the Grammys gave best new artist to Arcade Fire?), but I will take a swing: I really love the debut record by my friend Molly Sarlé, who is also a member of Mountain Man. It’s produced by Sam Evian, whose music I also recommend very hard if you haven’t heard it. Emma Louise’s ‘Lilac Everything’ is a gut punch. T. Gold, some more pals from around here, have the perfect soundtrack for your lazy morning or your late-night porch sit. And probably a bunch of artists I will remember as soon as I finish this!

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
Probably not much more difficult than it was in 1969 or whatever. Or, who knows? Certainly not me. It feels difficult to get noticed these days just as a human being, and it feels like getting noticed is at a premium. Basically everybody knows what it’s like to want more likes on your picture and simultaneously feel like an absolute piece of trash for wanting that. At least these days you don’t have to wait for a big radio DJ on his high horse to pick your record out of the stack. It does seem more difficult now to get people to listen to your music without first hearing some story about you via social media. They’re like, you want me to LISTEN to this record before I even know where you were born and how many times you’ve been to rehab and how your band name is an anagram of your bank robber uncle’s middle name??

Finally, what does the rest of 2019 have in store for Mipso?
We’re finishing a new record next month. Then this Europe tour is sort of the capstone on 2019 for us. I’ve never been to about 75% of the countries we’re playing, so I’m excited to at least wave to the scenery as we drive by. 

Big thanks to Libby for answering our questions! 

‘People Change’ is taken from Mipso’s recently released album Edges Run. Catch Mipso live in the UK this month:

26th October – Broadcast, Glasgow
27th October – Castle Hotel, Manchester
28th October – Thousand Island, London

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