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Miike Snow Aims To Provoke Both The Ear And The Intellect

Miike Snow is (left to right) Andrew Wyatt, Pontus Winnberg and Christian Karlsson. The trio's latest album is called <em>iii</em>.
Miike Snow is (left to right) Andrew Wyatt, Pontus Winnberg and Christian Karlsson. The trio's latest album is called <em>iii</em>.

The production team known as Miike Snow makes pop songs about love (like Bruno Mars' "Grenade") and sex (like Britney Spears' "Toxic"). But the members take a different approach — more cerebral — when it comes to the music they make for themselves.

Miike Snow is actually a trio, made up of one American, Andrew Wyatt, and two Swedes, Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg. They've been together nearly, and they've developed an avid following — even if there is some lingering confusion about just who Miike Snow is.

"He is a real person," Winnberg says of the band's namesake. "He used to work as an engineer at a studio in Los Angeles. While we were talking about what we should call the band, I think he e-mailed me or something. It was very random!"

Miike Snow's latest album is called iii. Speaking with NPR's Audie Cornish at the South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas several weeks ago, Wyatt and Winnberg agreed there are a few different ways their fans relate to their music.

"People come to Miike Snow for a sonic, sensual experience that feels bubbly to them," Wyatt says. "And then the secondary aspect of it is, 'Maybe there is something in the lyrics that stimulate me.'"

He points to one song in particular, "My Trigger," which he says they started writing when Karlsson came up with the lyric "I saw you licking a dollar bill." After that, Wyatt just ran with the idea.

"That was kind of a song about a lost weekend with a stripper," he says. "But, in the tradition of a lot of blues songs, you can say some things that feel kind of truthful, or that are a little bit more controversial, inside of a song that's about something very simplistic."

Wyatt says that "My Trigger" is meant to carry a deeper meaning — specifically about the sex industry in the United States.

"If you think about how much this dark, misogynistic pornography is out in American culture, it has so much to do with the whole aspect of feeling a repression about it," he says. "So the sex thing has to take on this dark meanness or something, you know? I don't relate to that stuff at all, but it takes a long time if you're a young teenage boy growing up in America with all the messages that you get — both to be completely provoked by it and enticed by it, but also to suppress it and submerge it."

Wyatt says that level of interpretation is left open to the listener: "If you want to read that deeply into it, or if you just want to feel that it's a nice beat. That's one cool thing about the band: We know all the tools of working with big pop stars, because we have made those types of songs. [But] also, if people want to, they can dive in and maybe get something to think about in the lyrics."

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