Mirror Mirror Are Not a Cult
Originally posted in September 2008 on Dazed Digital.
At the NYC premiere of Mirror Mirror’s music video for their song “New Horizons”, the atmosphere closely reflected the communal properties of the audiovisual DNA strand that the band and their friends inhabit. Spectators sat on the floor in awe as hyper-colored digital animation stretched and snapped over the band and David crooned the now infamous lyrics: “Soon you’ll know the code/ and enter New Horizons!/ Are you sick, are you lonely, are you out of your mind?/ Let’s go inside.” After a long haul of meditative recording on their album The Society for the Advancement of Inflammatory Consciousness Mirror Mirror is ready to recruit through Europe with their space-aged, choral rock n’ roll and beautifully sculpted live performances. Dazed caught up with front man David Riley on the eve of the trio’s departure for London.
Dazed Digital: What is the Society for the Advancement of Inflammatory Consciousness?
Mirror Mirror: SAIC is the title and the subject of our new album—a mysterious community who come together to explore higher planes of consciousness. I guess you could call us post New Age, technological hippies… we share some of the same preoccupations, like art therapy, self-transformation, organic architecture, the heightened attunement of the senses, and ritual use of mind-expanding substances… but adapted to the digital age. SAIC started off as a fictional creation, but we’ve since adopted some of their characteristics.
DD: In the past you’ve dealt with accusations that Mirror Mirror is a cult. How do you think this interpretation came about?
MM: It’s completely understandable… any sort of group that rejects mainstream society could be considered a cult. We’re fascinated by alternative communities like Oneida, The Family, the children of Ya Ho Wha and the Shakers, although we’re not a religious sect by any stretch of the imagination. No dogma, no messianic leader who drives a Rolls Royce and sleeps with every new recruit, no endtime fantasies!
DD: The new record has been a long-time coming. What was your experience like writing and recording this record?
MM: It was very slow, because we produced and recorded the album ourselves, in our apartment in Bushwick. It was a casual process. I would take a shower, write some lyrics, feed the cats, record some vocals, make dinner, record some guitar… you get the idea. Because our apartment isn’t a great live space, we recorded everything separately, and that really gave the album its sound. It’s a composite of folk and psychedelia and sci-fi all cut and pasted together. A mix of nostalgia and futurism.
DD: Any favorite songs from the record?
MM: “New Horizons” is a favorite, because it’s so melodic and fun to sing. Even after the thousandth time. Or “Don Coyote’s Confession” because it’s so schizophrenic and theatrical—I have a mini breakdown every time we do it.
DD: You recently debuted your “New Horizons” music video. Talk about the process behind the production of this amazing piece of video art. Can we look forward to more videos in the near future?
MM: Like the album, it was very casual. I had different friends come to our art studio over the summer and sit for me. At the end, I combined them all together in a big, digital-psychedelic mash-up. It mirrored the process of recording the album. All these people appear together who were never even in the same room. We’re already planning more videos because we love doing them—they’re like idealized performances that travel around the internet.
DD: Which bands or musicians have inspired you creatively?
MM: We’ve always been inspired by the eccentrics… Kate Bush, Scott Walker, Serge Gainsbourg, Brigitte Fontaine. Artists with longevity and complicated personas. For this album I was also listening to a lot of minimal and ambient stuff… Terry Riley, Harmonia, Vangelis and Wendy Carlos. She has an album called “Beauty in the Beast” that I absolutely love.
DD: Do you have any collaboration fantasies?
MM: We love remixes… we’d love to have our friends DJ Kingdom or Stay High remix some our songs. We’re definitely looking for a producer with an electronic and dance background for our next album. Or what about performing in a set by Jim Lambie… with costumes by Gareth Pugh?
DD: Now you’re back on the road in London and Paris. Where have been your favorite places to play?
MM: We love Europe, everyone is so hospitable, especially France, because I lived there for a long time, and speak the language—some of our songs are in French. California is amazing as well. We imagined that all the events on the album took place there. The Society creating its home, runaways and hustlers on a random boulevard, the parties in the hills, a naked man swimming into the sunset…
DD: What can we expect from Mirror Mirror in the future?
MM: We’re adapting, always thinking a few steps ahead to the next project. We’re already finishing up the material for our next album, and dreaming up more video and art installations. One of the songs on the album (The Inward Way Out) is dedicated to Marcia Moore, who was an early yoga practitioner and ketamine evengelist. She died rather tragically. She was lost in the woods in her nightgown in the middle of a snowstorm completely high out of her mind. She climbed into a tree and that’s where she froze to death. Who knows if it’s true, but we’re making a video about it.
We just want to keep doing what we’re doing. We want a house in the country where we can have a studio and be surrounded by friends and furry animals and creative energy. I want to be an old man with a long white beard swinging on a swing, humming future tunes.
Mirror Mirror’s full-length album The Society for the Advancement of Inflammatory Consciousness is available now on Cochon Records. They can be witnessed in London from9/22-25, and play in Paris on 9/26 at Le Showcase. www.mirrormirror-nyc.com