Miami Horror

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Miami Horror


Producer/mastermind Benjamin Plant looks back on a crazy 12 months. “I’m surprised that we got 5 singles out of it really. They’re not all huge singles or anything but it’s good just to have something happening constantly – we’ve had a year and a half based on songs off that album.”

Though starting his career as a DJ, Plant has managed to flesh out the Miami Horror moniker into a fully-fledged pop ensemble. And looking back on Illumination, the ostensible dance qualities of the record are overridden by a highly crafted pop sensibility. In turn, this has given the record a sense of invulnerability to the multitude of ephemeral trends which so often plague the dance world. “I think there are a few things that people have to watch out for. Longevity, that’s one of them. Then there’s the style of production, which is hard to do because you want to make sure it’s relevant to now but you also don’t want it to date,” he muses. “I think that by making it more natural-sounding – not dance specific, but with a tendency toward that kind of sound – it almost gives it a kind of leeway that if there was a track that was too electronic or too dance-y, people might disregard that one in the future. But, there are still, hopefully, enough songs on there that don’t sound too specific to this era.”

One of the biggest trends to rise and fall over the past few years was the chillwave movement, with Neon Indian (aka Alan Palomo) being at the forefront of the genre. Though Palomo made guest appearances throughout a number of Illumination tracks, Ben explains that the chillwave aesthetic was never one he aimed to fully embrace. “He was just a friend that I’ve known for a while and we’ve worked a bit together before, it was more him as the vocalist more than anything. I think of the songs he sung on probably two out of the three don’t sound like chillwave at all. I mean it didn’t even sound like Neon Indian at all. But I guess it’s got that association and a little bit of influence there but I definitely didn’t let it go too far,” he recalls.

Returning to his roots as a DJ, the Miami Horror remix of Gorillaz’ Empire Ants set the blog world aflame when it dropped late last year – even going so far as to receive the thumbs-up from Mr Albarn himself. “We picked that song ’cause we’d always liked it on the album. It felt really nice, ’cause it was probably everyone in the band’s favourite, all of our friend’s favourite, so we were quite inspired by it. We were trying to keep the same vibe, or at least make it how we wanted without losing the original feel. Damon really liked it. He even played it at his DJ set that night when he was down in Sydney for the Gorillaz show, which was cool. Then it was number one on Hype Machine for two weeks, which is pretty crazy too. So, I think that might have really helped just giving our name a boost before we headed over to Europe.”

After conquering dancefloors across Europe, the group are ready for one last Melbourne send-off before their LA resettlement. “We’re just going there really for the experience, and just to see how that influences us writing. I mean we’re not dedicated to an entire album specifically, but we probably start a few songs. I’m also working on another project, but whether that comes together or not remains to be seen. But it’s more to inspire that a little bit too,” he ponders. “It’s just the characters and the location and the people there. But we like the streets of LA, as opposed to somewhere like New York, and we also like that it’s very near to the national parks and all that.”

With the Illumination tour wrapping up and the (presumably) final single being released, it appears that we shouldn’t be expecting an immediate sophomore effort anytime in the near future. “We definitely won’t start that until August I’d say. But you really have to think about, in this genre, or these genres, specifically what it’s going to sound like before you do it. You at least have a proper aim. You don’t want to do what other bands have done recently, as well as heading in a completely opposite direction to that last album. So it’s just about finding that balance really, before you even think about starting.”