Words by Georgia Gifford - Published on March 5, 2013
From their humble beginnings in the Brisbane music scene, Mitzi – not to be mistaken for a cute and cuddly cartoon character – made quite an impression with the recent release of their debut album Truly Alive two weeks ago. The Brisbane four-piece have created a quirky mix of 70s disco pop and fused it with modern mix of electro and indie dance music. We caught up with drummer and vocalist, Cale, for a chat about their debut album and what’s in store for 2013.
SCENEWAVE: You’ve just released your debut album Truly Alive, how does it feel to have it finally done and dusted?
CALE SUESSKOW: It’s been an absolutely huge process doing all of the production on our own. It takes a long time to figure out how we wanted it to sound. It’s just so great to finally have it out now after the big wait between finishing production and actually releasing the album. There should be an album tour coming up so stay tuned.
SW: So do you think the all of your experience being DJs and music production influenced your music?
CW: Yeah for sure, maybe not directly but being into the house music scene has been a huge influence for us. We are obviously influenced by older stuff like 70s pop and disco which we combine with techno and house styles. It all really comes together in its own way. It definitely helps that we’re able to record and produce our own music.
SW: Rumour has it that to test the ‘releasability’ of an album Cloud Control always listens to their tracks full volume in a car. How did you guys know when your album is ready to release?
CW: Yeah we do that a bit too actually. I guess if it sounds terrible in a car then you know you’ve got a bit of work to do. It can sound so different in the studio compared with a CD or on the radio and driving around listening to your own beats gets us really pumped about releasing it too.
SW: So how did you guys get together? Was Mitzi the beginning of your music career?
CW: We’ve all played in other groups before we formed Mitzi. Some of us were in electro pop bands, punk and even grunge, so really different music backgrounds. We all used to just hang around in a similar social circle so that’s how we knew each other initially. Dom and Jad wanted to explore a different genre and that’s really what got us all together.
SW: What has led your awesome mix of different music genres? And do you think this has helped you stand out in such a competitive industry?
CW: Well guess it comes from our different backgrounds in other bands and the fact that we all love such a variety of music. In terms of our competition, we don’t really think about strategy and how we stand out among other bands. We really just started out performing small gigs and club shows and not really expecting anything big. We’ve never done it to stand out we just did it because we loved it.
SW: One thing I was wondering is if you guys were fans of LCD Soundsystem? I know a lot of people sense a bit of their influence in your music.
CW: Huge Fans! We love them. We went to see them at Splendour back in 2010 and they were amazing. That whole DFA sound was a big influence in how we starting making music. They were doing something that no other musicians were doing anywhere else in the world. We absolutely love how they take that old retro, disco punk and fusing it with modern technology.
SW: I’m told that Parklife 2010 was your very first live gig as a band, what was it like having such a huge gig as your first performance together?
CW: [Laughs] Yeah it was totally rushed, we put together a few songs at the last minute and had no lyrics. We had jammed together only 3 times and had literally no idea what we were doing. Having never played something that big before, we were all pretty nervous to be playing on a big stage for our first gig! But after that that we realised we could do something real with the band.
SW: What do you find are the main differences between a festival crowd and a smaller more intimate gig? Do you prefer one over the other?
CW: I like club shows personally. There’s just such a good vibe when the club is packed and its intimate and easier to meet people. None of us have really performed for those really huge festival crowds like Big Day Out, so hopefully one day we’ll know! We’ll have to wait and see.
SW: Have you or the other guys got any pre-gig routine or essential onstage clothing pieces that you swear by?
CW: Jad is getting into these shorts and long socks lately which is about as far as onstage clothing goes. But I don’t know about the rituals. We are putting a little more effort into warming up now rather than picking up our instruments for the first time on stage like we usually do. We usually just have a few drinks before a show and collect our thoughts, if you can call that a ritual.
SW: What’s it like supporting bands as big as Foals, Foster the People and Tallest Man on earth?
CW: It’s absolutely amazing. You learn so much from more experienced bands, who have been touring and playing together for longer. We have played for some incredibly talented bands, we feel pretty lucky. On the other hand, it’s also pretty daunting warming up a crowd who’s waiting to see someone else. We’ve haven’t been booed off stage, yet, but there’s definitely a difference between those crowds and a crowd who have come to see us play.
SW: So I know you started out as a drummer in the band, but did you always know you could sing as well?
CW: I always did a bit of backup vocals in other bands, but I only started writing vocals for Mitzi. So actually writing vocals for the band was a bit out of my comfort zone initially. We decided against getting a singer in the early stages and Dom and I are pretty comfortable with the vocals now, we all work really well together.
SW: A band of four guys isn’t exactly what pops to mind first when you hear the name ‘Mitzi’. What was the inspiration for your name?
CW: There’re a few different stories, but Dom and Jad where writing music under a different persona while in their other band. So they stealthily created the band under the female name ‘Mitzi’. We considered changing it later on but it had already stuck and we liked it anyway.
SW: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you on tour? Any crazy fan moments?
CW: Well I’m not sure about crazy fans yet, but one of our support acts in Adelaide got really rowdy during their performance and jumped on stage in the middle of our gig. They were forcing straight scotch down our throats, which made it pretty difficult to sing. At least they seemed to be enjoying our music!
SW: If fashion weren’t a concern would you wear lace up or Velcro shoes?
CW: Laceups, nice and sturdy.
SW: If you could bring any artist back from the dead, who would it be?
SW: So what’s on the cards for 2013?
CW: Well we’re going to South by Southwest, which is the first time we’ll play overseas. There’ll be an album tour, which is really exciting. And basically playing as many shows as we possibly can and hopefully we won’t get annoying.
Mitzi’s debut album Truly Alive is out now on iTunes, Spotify or Rdio, get listening! Stay tuned for more deets on their upcoming album!