We’re sent a lot of music here at raven + crow studio. True, our main forte is design, but we’ve written about music since day one because it’s a huge shared passion of ours, especially in the realm of inventive independent music. Doing so for so many years, we’ve gradually built up and maintained the avenues that provide us with new musical discoveries, which, with prevalence of home studios and self-promotion via the Internet, seem more plentiful than ever before.
In such a crowded field, we’re always appreciative of bands that immediately hook us on first listen, making our jobs pretty easy. One such band is newcomer duo, Mideau, based in Salt Lake City and Chapel Hill, NC. We loved their easily accessible, poppy sound right off the bat and, after some quick, relatively unproductive online research, reached out to the band to find out more about them.
Give their excellent track—”Way with Words”—a listen below and read on to find more about the two bandmates, learn about the musical scene in Salt Lake, and find out how the band raised $10,000 in a little over a month to record their forthcoming debut LP.
raven + crow studio: Okay, first off, you’ll have to forgive me—normally I’m either going into this kind of thing already knowing the band well or at least having done a good bit of research up front, but I admittedly don’t know a ton about you guys and, honestly, can’t find that much online. So…introduce me to Mideau. How did you guys meet?
Spencer Harrison: One of my old bandmates produced Libbie’s solo record—she’d be waiting around our house for him to show up which gave us time to commiserate on his absent-mindedness and more important musicophelia.
Lackadaisical serendipity! I know you’re a duo, but is that more in the song-writing phase of things or do you keep it to two live too?
Spencer: Mideau is a duo in the morning and in the afternoon and in the evening and in the studio and on stage in the night time.
Libbie Linton: We are almost always joined by two other musicians when we perform live—a bass man and a drummer.
Nice—we love a built-out live band. And you’re from North Carolina and/or Salt Lake City, from what I can tell?
Specner: Libbie and I both grew up in Utah, and I currently reside in Chapel Hill, NC.
Ah, we’re both huge Chapel Hill fans, but what’s the scene like in SLC, musically and otherwise? …also, do people actually even call it SLC or did I make that up? Seems phonetically odd to bring from print to speech….
Spencer: You’re right on, Troy (see SLC Punk Trailer).
Libbie: Utah is home to amazing geography and astonishing talent. The Last few years have seen the launch of Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees, Fictionist, Mindy Gledhill, The Moth & The Flame, to name very few. Kaskade lives in Utah, and so do the Osmonds. Our best friend/photographer, b3njamin, is currently shooting Beyoncé in NYC. The scene is wondrous.
Oh, yeah, I know some of those guys. Had no idea they were from SLC though. So, you did a (successful) Kickstarter to raise money for the album, right? What was that like?
Spencer: That was a wild ride. We started from the bottom and had an amazing amount of support from our community. Many things were learned and many friends were made!
It’s weird—I’m always torn with Kickstarters. Like, I would feel bad asking friends—many of whom are already inundated with that kind of request as is—for money for a project, but I guess it’s about finding a project that you really believe in, right?
Spencer: I think it does get overwhelming, another groundbreaking album with a “big vision” needs your help!! How to choose? The simplest way I can see it—people who would buy the record later can just preorder a copy now. I hear you though, in some ways it feels like jingling your charity-can at a party with your friends and family. But there is a lot that can be done to spread your net wide before you ever launch a crowd funding campaign. And plus, uncle Charlie hasn’t given you a birthday present since you were 5, so he stands with wallet wide open.
No, the whole crowd-funding model’s really cool in theory, so it’s great to see it work. Plus it’s totally impressive that you raised over your goal of $10,000 in 45 days. Did people cash in on any of the perks? You had some good ones—guest list for life, pick a cover for the album, lunch with you all, haircuts by Spencer…?
Spencer: We shipped many a hand written note and recorded special request cover songs that took far more time than we imagined. We did our very best to thank those who quite literally made the recording process possible.
Is Spencer a particularly skilled barber?
Libbie: I’m pretty good, actually. But they were haircuts with Spencer.
I love this, by the way: “Do you desperately want a Mideau cover of Simon & Garfunkel? Consider it done. You want to hear us do a sensitive version of 50 Cent’s “In Da Club”? Fantastic, we admire that kind of out-of-the-box thinking! We will record any song you want, just for you.” Can you clue us in to the cover or is that going to be under wraps until the full album’s announced?
Spencer: If you’ve seen the artwork for the EP or singles, you’ll see a strong visual language that will be represented in the album artwork.
Libbie: We wanted to capture a strange moment in time that would quietly inspire a viewer to wonder what happened before and after the still frame.
Oh, I was more looking into the cover song that was going to be recorded, but that’s cool too. Got an album title yet? ETA?
Libbie: Self titled for the debut. Feels right.
Spencer: Early 2015!
So, we’re always curious with everyone we interview—where does the band name come from?
Libbie: Honestly, we saw the word as our blank canvas that had the right raw materials—we want to paint it however we see fit.
That makes some sense. I really like the video for “Way with Words” (below). At first I was hoping that was a mustachioed Spencer, but I did some photo comparison and am pretty sure that’s not the case. Who is that dancing?
And did he just wing it or is that highly choreographed?
Libbie: How much can you call it an improvisation if you’ve been practicing in front of your mirror since childhood?
Well-put. I know you supported Katie Herzig for part of her tour—level of 1 to 10, how much fun was that?
Spencer: Touring with Katie for a string of dates was a dream. Her and her crew were extremely hospitable, we loved playing with them.
Awesome. Really liked The Waking Sleep—especially that RAC remix of “Free My Mind”—but have yet to hear her new one.
Spencer: Her new album is darn special. She is a killer writer and performer.
Any plans to play LA soon?
Libbie: Yes, actually. We had plans to be there this June, but plans changed and we will have to wait until fall. But can’t wait to meet you and the other LAers when we get there! Where do you think we should play?
Hmmmmmm. Echo/Echoplex is great, as is the Bootleg. Though, the Fonda’s walking distance for us, so…there! On a closing note, please share with our audience the weirdest dream you’ve ever had to date.
Spencer: Setting was a prim suburban neighborhood with a park during the golden hour of evening. I watched (and ran away) as a psychopathic samurai in civilian clothes cut through anything/anyone in his way with the sharpest sword one can imagine. I proceeded to try and reason with him when he advanced toward me.
In waking life, I would definitely categorize myself as a lover rather than a fighter but come on—trying to rationalize with an irrational killer in the heat of a rampage?
I don’t recall getting sliced before I woke up … but what does it all mean?
Your father once denied you a bomb pop on a hot summer’s day in your youth rationalizing that your lips would turn blue and people would think you looked like a weirdo; this resulted in both a mild eating disorder and the deeply held desire to ‘stick out’ amongst the crowd, defining, to a certain extend, your adulthood personality and social trajectory. Also, you think samurais are cool. You’re welcome.
You can watch the video for “Way with Words”, starring Jonathan Frey, below. If you like it, which you will, you can download the Way with Words EP and pay what you will via noise trade. Look for Mideau live this fall; they’re full-length debut is due early next year.
Photo: B3njamin Photography