The Slow Revolt – Interview 2015

BrightonsFinest first came across The Slow Revolt (aka Joe Miraza) at the Drill Festival in 2014. From then on we have not been able to stop playing his Soulful Electronic beats in the office. Tracks like ‘Never Get Close’ and ‘The Dark Matter’ have a timeless mystic feel to them, and when you hear Joe playing live single-handedly with a whole host of electronic wizardry, a guitar and his silky smooth voice your jaw starts to drop and your legs undoubtedly start to move. I met up with Joe after an auspicious show at The Hope & Ruin, on his first headline tour, to find out more about what makes The Slow Revolt.

What made you start this project?
I have been in bands for quite a while. Even though they were all guitar based, it was always abstract. This had always been on the back burner but I just never had the time to do it. I loved doing a Matmos style of live sampling, but my production wasn’t there as a whole. So I guiltily took some time to write my own stuff and get some beats together.

How did you come up with ‘The Slow Revolt’ name?
It was a phrase I had in a lyric book a while ago. It comes from that kind of world of bands like ‘Godspeed You! Black Emperor’ which have a romantic pessimism. I was reading a lot of situationist books around that time which was full of proto anti-capitalist writing. I was relating that of the idea of creativity, and what that means – to be in a constant state of flux. This fitted in with what I wanted from this project; not trying to be cool (pretentious) and something that wasn’t going to sound dated in a few years. I didn’t mind it sounding like a bit of a curmudgeon – being in my own orbit. Never resting your morals and never being static with it.

When was the first time you ever picked up an instrument?
I don’t know if the Casio keyboard counts, I would have been about 8 years old and it wouldn’t have been anything particularly musical. The first real instrument I got into was the guitar when I was 12. I was in lots of rock bands and it was pretty angsty stuff.

What has been a musical eye-opener for you?
For a while, every few years I would have a musical epiphany. Around the time I was 17/18 years old I was coming across stuff like Patti Smith 1975 debut Horses. Which lead me on to classic Joni Mitchell albums, and Astral Weeks by Van Morrison. Then I came across Tim Buckley and Jeff Buckley who helped me discover the higher part of my vocal range. Discovering Warp Records was also a big eye-opener for me, to hear artists like Aphex Twin or Autechre.

What are your main musical influences?
It’s hard to say as I absorb so much music. I always come back to mid-70s Joni Mitchell, and that run of amazing albums that went from about 1969 to about 1979. I will always buy every Autechre record. There really is such a range – if you’re a music fan, there aren’t any boundaries.

What music have you been listening to at the moment?
I am a huge fan of NTS Radio. Every time I listen, I’m creating a massive list of music to buy. The Murlo grime sets are absolutely amazing, and makes me completely lose my mind (in a good way). Also Throwing Shade – she puts together these awesome themed shows with music from all over the world.

How do you go about the recording process?
With this project it is totally solo – it’s a very solitary thing. It has only been recently that I’ve been getting some input for other people, some producers and someone helping me mix the tracks. I try and create situations where I can just play around and create accidents, using synths that I only half know how to use or create some process on the computer that create randomness. I try to find a song in there, and use that as a trigger to set a scene. It’s a funny thing when you come from a very organic way of relating to music with guitar and vocals etc. Having a band background I’m used to just jamming ideas out with other musicians, then you come across electronica and it’s a very different way of song writing.

What do you do when you are not gigging?
It has always been picking up a guitar and feeding it through different effects to abstract the sound. One of my favourite things is feeding it through chains of effects, creating this hybrid electronic guitar digital sound, but it’s not always the most productive when it comes to making a song although it is great for textures. Over the past year or so, I have been really getting into synthesizers because I want to try and understand them. I have a few small analogue synths, meaning each production I do now has a bit more fluidity. I really like the Night Slugs Record Label where these guys and girls have such fluidity and are so bold with what they are doing. The way the sound is modulating is nuts. I want to explore that a lot more, and gain the same fluidity with synths that I have with guitar.

What is the story behind your new single ‘Farther’?
I received a bit of money which enabled me to just purely write for about 9 months, and gave me time to completely get to grips with what I wanted The Slow Revolt to be as well as experiment and try stuff out. It initially came from playing around with synths ending up with this fairly House sounding back drop, then suddenly it was taking on this shape of a more reflective mood (almost an inversion of the celebratory feel the majority of House music has) and add a melancholic feel to the sound. Something that is catchy and poppy, but also has self-doubt in there – almost putting doubt on the dance floor. It was a perverse urge that came from a rock music world of saying “fuck you, I’m going to express myself even if it is something you don’t want to hear”, but I also wanted to make it feel sonically seductive as well.

Is there an album on way?
I have the material and more but building a fan base and an online presence almost gets in the way of what you would like to do creatively, which is making a coherent body of work together as an album. Given 6 months of concentration it would be completed, but I would say it’s only half done at this stage.

What are your future plans?
I will be doing lots of shows over the summer, as there is a new single being prepared. The next EP will continue to explore the dancefloor. I am looking to expand the live set up, so it’s not just me on stage, maybe someone who is a master of a modular synth.