For nearly the past ten years, Miniature Tigers has been an indie staple infiltrating our airwaves and giving us something special to dance to. Though the band is known for their calculated synth-pop, they are just as well known for developing an ever-evolving sound that remains too progressive to fit into one box. Quintessentially, Miniature Tigers’ latest release I Dreamt I Was a Cowboy feels like an even greater venture for the now Los Angeles-based band, as front-man Charlie Brand (CB) stripped their use of synthesizers and took their sound into a reflective, sincere world of its own inspired by Americana. While the album was primarily recorded as Brand traveled nomadically from one friend’s couch to the next, I Dreamt I Was a Cowboy feels like the band’s metaphoric journey to the Wild West and embrace of the great unknown that is life and love; and there is just enough room on the saddle for you to come along on the ride, too.
Since the band was formed over ten years ago, does it still feel like the same project? Did you imagine it taking the route that it has?
CB — The band started with just me in my bedroom, recording music I thought no one would ever hear. Since then the band has become a band. My lifelong friends that make up the band, now are what define our sound.
You have gone through such a sonic evolution throughout your discography. Why is it valuable to you to continue to experiment with new sounds and venture into different genres?
CB — I think there is value in finding a sound and refining it but that’s not what excites me about art. Naturally after I finish writing an album, anything I write afterwards feels stale if it sounds like what I just finished. I like to approach each album, as it’s own separate universe. On our most recent LP, I Dreamt I Was a Cowboy I revisited a certain aesthetic or time period of the band by using practically no synths and more simple songwriting.
Though your sound continues to evolve and the lyrics may be sad, your music consistently still radiates a sort of good vibe. Why is it important to you that your music makes your listeners feel good?
CB — It’s not always important to me that people feel good listening. I’ve gotten off on making people uncomfortable in the past. Switching our sound up so often has that effect. I think ultimately I love pop music and making people feel good, so we end up in that lane more often than not.
I Dreamt I Was A Cowboy has a bit of a country twang to it and there’s some Western imagery on the album. Have you felt any sort of cowboy exodus in your life recently?
CB — I grew up in Arizona and I lived in Texas for a few years before moving to Los Angeles. I’ve never identified with that aesthetic or sound but it’s such a huge part of who I am. I wanted to use southwestern imagery and country music as more of a texture in the bigger picture of what the album is actually about.
I Dreamt I Was A Cowboy kind of touches on a sense of defeat, but a light at the end of the tunnel. Have you ever come across something in your life or creative process that has inspired you to keep going?
CB — It’s funny that’s what you got because I think this is the most optimistic straight forward love song filled album we’ve ever made (laughs). Every album of ours since Mia Pharaoh, I’ve whole-heartedly believed it would be our last. I honestly never thought this album would ever be written or released. This is a tough band to be in because we don’t make any money but after 10 years we love each other so much and want to keep going forever. We obviously can’t, so it’s always amazing to me when we keep going.
Charlie, you recorded the album from your friends’ couches. What do you think this intimate experience lent to the album?
CB — I wrote and recorded most of the songs while floating around. When I started seeing it, as an album there was a certain vibe those recordings had I knew I couldn’t recapture in the studio. I decided not to re touch or re record on them and leave them intentionally raw.
Did your relationships with the people you were staying with seep into the music in anyway as you were writing and recording it from their homes?
CB — Yeah, definitely. Not really in a lyrical sense but the way the chords and production feel like those people or places I was staying.
Now that you’ve settled into Los Angeles, do you feel at home? Do you feel like you’re a Los Angeles band?
CB — I love Los Angeles. I lived here before when I was first starting to play shows with the band. I’ve always loved it here and wherever I lived, Texas, New York, etc. I always wanted to be here. I’m so inspired by the air and the light. I don’t feel like a Los Angeles band because none of my band mates live here. We’ve never all lived in the same place at the same time. I feel at home here though.
Charlie, you’ve said that you were a classic 90s grunge kid. How did growing up on Weezer and Nirvana influence you as a musician and how did this sort of stagnant, suburban period influence your youth and musical outlet?
CB — I’m sure they subconsciously influenced the way I write music. Their music while being complex is also very simple pop music. I think also teaching myself to play guitar to their music made me not be a flashy musician, which I think also helps the sound of the band. If I grew up on Metallica, I might be playing bass in 30 Seconds to Mars or some sh*t.
You’ve explored more visual art in recent years. What form of expression does this provide for you that are different than music? Or do they coincide?
CB — It’s a nice escape from music. I consider myself a painter as much as I do a musician. When music is feeling uninspired I can shift mediums and feel satisfied. Sometimes I will look at a song like it’s a painting or vice versa. Is it overworked? Does it need more color? They are very connected but separate enough to where it feels fresh no matter what medium I’m working in at that moment.
CB — As you continue to work on new music, where do you this project will take you? What sounds might you venture into next?
I’m currently writing new music for my other project, Promises Ltd. I also want to produce for other artists this year. I don’t see anything in the immediate future of Miniature Tigers but that’s what I always say.