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Minipop Band Interview

by Manav Dhiman on October, 2011

in Music

In the sea of music bands from all sorts of backgrounds and genres, it’s hard to find what you like. Sometimes it’s something you stumbled upon, something you read in the newspaper or a small interview you read on a website. In a similar way I discovered ‘minipop’, a band from California when I bought my Nokia 5800. It had 10 bundled songs and one of them was “Like I Do” by minipop. I immediately fell in love with the song. So, I went to their Facebook page and listened to their other songs which were as subtle and as melodious as “Like I Do”.

Fortunately, I work for the FRiEnDz so I recently got to interview my favorite band (and I tell you, it’s a dream come true!).

Minipop is an indie electronic and dream pop band from Oakland, California which was formed in 2004. The band’s lineup includes: Tricia Kanne’s vocals, Matthew Swanson as the guitarist and keyboardist, Lauren Grubb on the drums and Nick Forte as the bassist. They debuted with the album “A New Hope” in 2007. Read more about them, and their views in the interview that follows!

How did you guys come up with the name ‘minipop’? Is there a story behind it?

Matthew – Minipop came to fruition like most bands, as an idea in a bedroom.  the first recordings of songs for the new project were very short and super poppy.  I had a cheap casio keyboard and I was recording these little songs that sounded like nintendo music.  I started calling them mini-pop songs.  When the project started coming together the name just kind of stuck around even though the music changed with each member’s new influence.

Tricia – Once Matt and I reconnected after a number of years, he started sending me a bunch of 2 minute pop songs written on a casio keyboard for a female-fronted project he had dubbed “minipop”. I loved the cheery, hopeful vibe of the songs and the fact that they really belonged together as a family. I experienced a wave of nostalgia listening to these songs over and over again driving around in my car. Eventually this emotion was translated to words and melody on a handful of these songs, the first of which was a song called Fingerprints.

Do you feel that music has become complicated than it was before?

Matthew – That’s an interesting question, I’ve never thought about that.  I think with the addition of protools to every musicians home, music has become more experimental and different.  I don’t know if complicated is the word but it has definitely been pushed to new frontiers.  I think musicianship has declined from the 70’s and 80’s, but writing and recording are constantly being pushed to new areas.

Tricia – Yes, in a way. With all of the recent technological advances and countless music blogs, ways of listening to and finding out about new music has really exploded. There’s no doubt that the industry is saturated, but what’s neat is that there are so many avenues to find new music based on personal preference- you just have to know where to find them. Social networking and music listening sites like Facebook, DropBox, Pandora, Spotify and have introduced fun ways to share music and stay connected – these are exciting times.

Lauren – No, I don’t think music has become more or less complicated than before.

What’s your favorite song to play live?

Matthew – For me personally it would be a song called ‘Placebo War’, which will hopefully be on a new ep.  It’s got a very fun guitar lick to play and has a lot of energy.  It’s not very technical as well which is nice when you’re playing live to not have to worry about fucking up.  We close with it a lot as well so it’s a good fun note to go out on.

Tricia – Ask me a Question.

Lauren – Placebo War.

If you could play a show anywhere, where would it be?

Matthew – I would love to play some shows in Europe, and get to tour over there.

Tricia – Bali, we love to surf.

Lauren – China

Did your families support you guys when you were starting up?

Matthew – Absolutely.  We have had very supportive families who have been with us since the start.  We all feel fortunate to have had a good support system.

Tricia – It took a while for my parents to come around and understand my desire to play music in lieu of attending nursing school. The first mini show my parents attended was at the Noisepop festival opening for Rogue Wave. They have been more supportive since then. I think my dad likes Zach.

Lauren – Definitely, my parents love the band and we practiced in my mom’s basement for a long time

Today, teens love change in their music tastes. For example, now more teens tend to like Coldplay than Metallica. What are your thoughts?

Matthew – I wish I knew what teens wanted to hear.  I think Metallica will be alright.  To be honest I am awful at keeping up with music trends.  I usually get into bands a bit late.  Teens are minute to minute, they probably just want to hear what their friends are hearing.  With iPods and iTunes now there is so much more available that they can have a huge music collection, which wasn’t always possible.

Lauren – I think the internet has done wonders for bands and for listeners.  So many smaller bands, like us, are able to get more exposure because of websites like yours, as well as music blogs, Facebook, iTunes… There’s really endless amounts of music you can find online, so I think this has a lot to do with teens broader music tastes today.

What was the inspiration of your song “Like I Do”?

Tricia – Endless summer and a box of chocolate.

Matthew – That was a song that came together from a few different musical riffs from various members of the band.  Lauren came up with a cool pounding drum beat that helped shape the pre-chorus.

Usually we don’t see your CDs in music stores and that’s why most people are not learning about your beautiful music. Are you guys keen on marketing yourselves?

Matthew – We could probably take a marketing class for sure.  Self promotion is the name of the game in music and we definitely did our best to get our name out there for many years.  Getting CD’s into music stores, or what’s left of music stores is an expensive political ballgame that is tough when you are on a small indie label or self produced.  Our last ep and the next one will be done on our own so it’s doubtful you’ll see it on any shelves.  It seems digital is taking over anyways.

What will be your advice to today’s teens who want to chase their dreams in music (or in general)?

Matthew – If you want it you’ve got to be willing to sacrifice a lot and work harder than the next band.  Tour, record, write, promote.  Never stop being active musically and always be available, opportunities come up only so often and you’ve got to be able to say yes.  I think college is the best time to form a band because of the freedom you have with your time and the built in audience of your classmates.  Also, write good songs and have a good singer and drummer, those are the two backbones of the band.


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Aisiri Shankar October 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Nice! Off to hear a few songs of theirs ! :)