"Let a Little Light In" - A Conversation with Mipso
(Photo Credit - DL Anderson Pictures)
We had the opportunity to interview with Joseph Terrell of alt-folk superstars Mipso! Their first album with Rounder Records titled 'Mipso' is dropping October 16, 2020. Check out our conversation!
1. Can you tell us a little about the writing and recording process of Mipso?
"We took more time to prepare for the recording process and the writing and arraignment process than ever before. This was partially because we've learned lessons from trying to squish records between tours. We really allowed songs to simmer and evolve. We got together in a converted barn space in North Carolina. Rather than trying to complete songs quickly, we were more open, spending time and distilling something. We went to Asheville in the summer at Echo Mountain. Looking back I can hear that we weren't hurried which is nice."
2. While musically, Mipso is pretty bright, you all tangle with some pretty dark themes lyrically such as climate change, the uncertainty of these current times, etc. Can you speak a little to that juxtaposition between music and lyrical theme?
"There's a lot of darkness to the lyric content under the surface, but it's presented in a deceptively positive blanket. I think there's a twist of the knife, like hiding a secret in the presentation of the song. We're all really anxious about the world and how could you not be? But at the same time we're gathering together to make music, and there's something very hopeful about that."
"I feel like the world has the same contrast about it as well. You walk into a mall and it's a dark place, but at the same time it's presented in a bright hunky dory "buy something" package. I think it's darkness in the service of honesty, trying to see the world through clear eyes."
3. What is something you feel that you were able to achieve on this release that you maybe had not before (or ever tried before)?
"I think every album, we've taken as a process of trying on a different outfit. The band is not necessarily genre related, but more so related to the member's interests. Our first album was a bluegrass concept album, but with every album we've tried to take a step back and try to see what are we musically curious about the time. This time we tried to go out into a space that was not filled. There's an element of British folk, I'm a huge Richard Thompson fan, as well as Irish and English folk, we kind of let those influences flex a little on this one as well."
4. One of the themes for this album that you've talked about is celebrating and amplifying your differences as a four piece on equal footing. Can you speak a little as to how this played out in the making of this record?
"Our band is a constant process, we're not a democracy, we're a consensus unit. We don't do three versus one. There are times where the individual steps back and examines the viewpoint of the collective. Our project is seeing what we can make with four personalities. We took that mentality into the writing process a little more than we ever had before. The more confident we get in our musical tastes and vocabularies, the more fun it is to take that and know that our voice isn't being covered up. Some songs are more like a stew when you can pick out individual elements and some are like a soup where there's one flavor. As much as we can remind ourselves that the process is the point, the more we can stay true to our North Star."
5. Releasing this record during the uncertain times of the pandemic has to have been a difficult/different experience. How did the pandemic impact how you approached releasing this music?
"We decided not to postpone the release when this all hit. There were some discussions about waiting. We quickly realized there was no timeline for when we're going back to normal. It's also not like we're the only one in this situation. Making records also becomes a phase of your life. If I have concern, it's not from business perspective because that's not going to help. If anything it would be that it could change that aspect of it being a phase of our life. We're currently working on an album release show and there's going to be no one in the crowd. It's just having a different relationship with the music because you're not doing it from the applause. It's not been all rosy, we got a PPE loan and have been on unemployment and I really feel for the people who are struggling out there."
6. What's next for Mipso?
"We're family, whatever happens in the world, we'll keep making songs together. I don't know what's next, but I really hope we can play these songs together and give it out to the world. My hope is the next few months is that we give this music to people and they appreciate it."