Editor’s Note: Responses have been edited for clarity and length.
Since their union in 2004, Brazilian husband-and-wife duo Mixhell has created their own brand of music. The band, which is made up of Laima Leyton and Iggor Cavalera, has released a series of unique synth-pop tracks, the latest being “Killer Whale.” Made in collaboration with indie musician Joe Goddard, “Killer Whale” features a conversation between abstract vocals and vibrant instrumentals.
I sat down with Mixhell to learn more about the recent single and their journey to creating music.
Ariel Zedric: When and where was the idea for Mixhell born?
Mixhell: Mixhell started as an excuse for us to do something together, something that wasn’t only parenting or being a couple. Friends invited Iggor to DJ at local parties, and Laima would jump in the decks and make choices as well. Not long after that we were invited to do our first remix for MSTRKRFT and went on tour with Soulwax and the 2ManyDjs.
What’s the significance behind the name “Mixhell?”
Mixhell came as a joke with another crew from LA. Their name was Mixwell, which was inspired by Maxell (the tape brand). As we were not that very good mixing tracks we called ourselves Mixhell. It seemed more appropriate at the time – we seem to be better mixing nowadays!
In one word, sum up your music style.
How has your music style changed, if at all, since your union in 2004?
In the very beginning, we didn’t really know how to do a remix and had to ask help for friends. Everything was very raw, but we also felt we needed to prove ourselves. We would record layers of sounds millions of details that would at many times seem too much. With time, we learned that less is more. More efficient and more interesting. In that way, our music changed a lot.
In what ways, if any, do you incorporate your culture into your music?
Well, Iggor’s drumming is, by itself, tribal. It comes from his roots to our land, Brazil. But our culture is not only from there. Iggor is also half Italian, and Laima is Lithuanian mixed with Panamanian. So in a way, we are attached to many cultures, so we incorporate lyrics in other languages, grooves, thoughts and beats from them.
Walk me through your general music creating process. Do you each have different roles, or do you collaborate on everything?
We do have different roles, Laima is more of a producer and likes to work in the studio while Iggor is very present on recording live instruments as well as planning structures and revising the work done. In the end, is a big collaboration, but Laima can definitely spend hours working on a single drum kick while Iggor is more into the moment.
How do you separate being partners and bandmates?
It is hard to separate both…as most of the things in our lives become inspirational to our art, but we try sometimes. When your job is what you love you never detach from it, maybe that is what happens with us.
Tell me about the inspiration behind “Killer Whale!”
We are so blessed to have Joe Goddard as a dear friend and collaborator, and Killer Whale is a result of it. Joe has a classic vintage synth called the Yamaha CS 80, we wrote the track using its ribbon with the oscillators, and it sounded like we were talking to a gentle whale. That is where the name of the track comes from.
How is this track similar and different from the music featured on your EP, Strong & Wrong?
As Killer Whale was based on the CS80, Strong and Wrong was based on the Roland System 100, in which we sequenced sounds to create a resonant synth bass line. They are both based on jamming on vintage synths, but Strong and Wrong EP has another great friend Mutado Pintado on vocals alongside Laima.
Like your EP, Strong & Wrong, you worked with Joe Goddard to create ‘Killer Whale’? What was it like working with him again?
Working with Joe is pleasant and based on fun. We don’t put any pressure on our selves to deliver music or to release music. We start by jamming on vintage synths and drum machines. Then we take a 30 or 40 minutes jam to our studio and create a story based on what has happened during the jam.
How does collaborating with another artist alter your usual writing process? Was it an easier transition for “Killer Whale” compared to the EP?
Collaborating has always nurtured our usual writing process. It gives us confidence.
Talk about your time on tour with Soulwax! What’s one of your most memorable moments?
We love playing with Soulwax. One of our favorite shows was at Calvi on the Rocks at the Corsica seaside where we jumped from stage into the sea right after soundcheck. It was great.
Have you encountered any major setbacks or obstacles in the music industry thus far? If so, how have you overcome them?
Being a musician is to keep fighting every day and pushing your limits.
You’ve collaborated with several artists in the past, from DJ Hell to Diplo. Who’s one artist you would love to work with that you haven’t got the opportunity to yet?
We would love to work with Brian Eno, one of our favorite artists/producers ever.
What’s your best piece of advice for young aspiring artists?
Don’t believe the hype.
Featured Image courtesy of Mixhell