Under The Gun Review is pleased to bring you this exclusive interview with English electronic rock outfit, MiXE1.
Founder and frontman, Mike Evans, took some time to speak with us about how the group evolved from his original solo project as well as their new EP and the power of positivity in music. So read through the jump to get familiar with this act from Hertfordshire and check out their new EP, Lights Out, here.
Can you tell me about the moniker MiXE1? It has something to do with your actual name, correct?
Yeah, the name represents a “mix” of musical styles with an electronic sound. I’m influenced from pop right through to heavy metal and it all comes out in the music – there’s quite a range of songs and all with an emotional edge. The connection to my name is that when I first started the project, a song was played on an internet radio station and the DJ pronounced the name as “Mikes One.” Being a solo artist at the time and wanting to prove myself, I kind of latched on to it! Of course now a couple of years down the line and especially now that we’re a full band I do regret that decision a little as we’ve been established with that pronunciation. The actual name itself I feel represents the band well.
What originally drew you to electronic based music? Have you worked with other genres as well?
My previous band was doing alternative metal – I was the guitarist and loaded up my guitar sound with FX pedals so often it would have a hint of a synth to it. What drove me to electronics in MiXE1 is that I was feeling a little limited with the straight ahead band sound. I was listening to electronic music and wanted to expand beyond the straight guitars, drums and bass sound – using synths really opens up the sound. There’s an unlimited number of sonic possibilities and layers when you bring electronics in to the fold! I find that very attractive, it’s always fun to discover new synths and spark a song idea in a surprising way!
This started out as a solo project and eventually evolved into a band, right? Why did you decide to bring on other musicians to add to the sound?
That’s right – it just happened naturally really. It was never my intention from the outset when I started MiXE1. Basically I was looking at doing some of the songs live and Lee Towson (guitar) and Lee O’Brien (drums) joined me in the rehearsal studio. We played through some released and unreleased material and something amazing just happened. The stuff which they were adding was insane, really enhancing the songs – I thought, “Wow I’d love to have this on the actual recorded songs,” and it went from there. We recorded the Lights Out EP and here we are! We also have Marcos Farias (live bassist) to thicken up the sound at our shows and put his stamp on the low end. Everyone adds something to the mix.
Besides the obvious of adding more instruments to your creations, do you think the music has changed emotionally or in any other way since bringing the other guys into the band?
From my point of view, it’s the same mindset as ever for vocals/synths – lots of emotion and a mix of melodic and some harsher vocals – only now we have two other personalities expressing themselves on the songs too. The sound is definitely bigger for it! Lee O’B is very creative and adds a lot of dynamics on the drums. Similarly with the guitars, Lee T is adding a lot of extra riffs and his personality to the songs. I’d say the sound as a whole has even more edge to it! It could potentially be seen as more aggressive than past releases.
A lot of your past works have been influenced by actual things that have taken place in your life which adds a very personal touch to your music. Is your new EP very much the same or do you think you’ve steered away from that at all? What kind of themes would you say there are throughout Lights Out?
I’ve definitely kept that in this EP. I can’t seem to escape personal life entering in to the music and that’s a plus really as it makes the songs that much more passionate! The demos of these songs were written in between the first two EPs and during this time, my relationship with my girlfriend had turned into a long distance one. It was a crazy year which took a lot of work, emotion, money and life changes until we were finally reunited a year later. She is my wife now so it’s a happy ending – that year was mental though. You’ll find all this leaked into the songs so there’s strong elements of that, some romantic vibes and most importantly a lace of positivity to the lyrics. I don’t like writing negative songs – the “hate! hate! die! die!” stuff just isn’t my style so even if the subject matter is veering on a darker or negative route lyrically, there is always an air of positivity about it – we will overcome rather than woe is me.
Are there any particular bands/artists that are a heavy influence on you and have helped shape your sound or ideas that go into your production, lyrics, etc.?
There’s been a lot through the years – I listen to so much it’s often hard to pinpoint exactly which influences are being channeled these days! Over the years though for sure bands like Celldweller, Blue Stahli, Deftones, Linkin Park, Smashing Pumpkins, The Cure, Zeromancer have played a part and many more – too many to list.
I’ve read that you’re currently working on your first full-length as a band. Would you say that Lights Out is pretty indicative of what we’ll find on the new release or is there anything else you’d like to share about what we can expect from the album?
Actually I feel the vibe is a little different! The EP is definitely an insight into the new band sound you can expect – the addition of big drums and guitars. I’d say the songs on the album feel more epic, maybe a little less darker in tone than the Lights Out songs. The vibe within the band is that these are some of our best songs yet. There’s a mix of some of our heaviest music yet and our most chilled yet, some experimentation! We’re all very proud of it and excited for everyone to hear it!
Are you currently touring or have any plans to in the near future?
Apart from a show in October, we’re focusing largely on the studio and behind the scenes things at the moment. Closer to the album release we’ll be looking at announcing some shows, no tour on the cards at this exact time though!
How would you describe a MiXE1 live show to someone that’s never attended one?
Energy and emotion – we like to have a big driving sound on stage. There’s a lot of synths and electronics on the recordings but live we adopt a more rock band formation! All the synths are on playback so there’s no live keyboard playing or anything. It’s vocals, guitar, drums and bass rocking out on stage! It’s interesting as we’re all from a rock or metal background originally so combining that with electronic music is a lot of fun.
Apart from working on the new album, do you have any other projects or ideas in progress right now?
We’re looking into some interesting video ideas we’re discussing for promoting the album. If we can pull it off, it’s gonna be awesome! Other projects; I sing in a couple of side projects called M3SSAGE (electronic with 7-string guitars) and DEP featuring MiXE1 (darker electronic blasts).
What would you say has been the biggest obstacle thus far for MiXE1? Has there ever been anything that has made you question whether or not you wanted to continue making music or working in this field?
There’s never been a moment like that – I’m enjoying every second! If ever I start to get stressed about something music related, I remind myself of how it all started – when I was first making the songs in my bedroom. I said to myself, “these songs are cool, though if I don’t release these songs, they’re just gonna sit on my computer and no-one’s ever gonna hear them.” So I released them in the hopes they would reach and connect with some people. Now I’m reaching a lot of people. So although I’m doing things a lot more professionally now, I try not to lose sight of that and focus on the positive.
What do you love the most about what you do? What is it that keeps you wanting to create and share your work?
Y’know, I just love making songs that I want to hear, songs that I would want to buy myself and blast on the stereo. It’s hard to describe why it’s such a big part of my life – a love of music combined with a need to create and release perhaps. Expressing myself in a medium I love. That keeps me coming back. I can’t go a day without listening to music. It’s a way of life.
What’s your main goal for this project in terms of how long you hope to continue doing this and what you wish to accomplish with your creations?
It’s very safe to say I plan to keep doing this as long as I’m breathing. I think the same goes for a lot of musicians that when music is in your blood, it’s there forever. My main goal is to reach as many people as possible and generate a connection. It’s such a rewarding experience when a fan reaches out to say that our music has touched them or helped them through something in their lives. I know there’s a huge potential fan base, it’s just a case of reaching them. So…yeah, world domination is the plan [smiles].
Written and conducted by: Brian Lion – Follow him on Twitter