Catching Up w/ Manic Pixi Frontwoman Kat Hamilton
Photo Credit: Amanda Kaye
Today, we touch base with Manic Pixi frontwoman Kat Hamilton, the mastermind behind NYC's burgeoning alt-punk sensations. The group have been omnipresently featured on the site over the last couple of years with their non stop blend of infectious grooves, relentless emotional release through song, and an indelible stage presence that will leave you mystified time after time. Kat was nice enough to take some time out of the band's busy schedule to keep us up to speed as to what the band have been up to recently, their thoughts behind their new LP "Iron Heart", and how the band has evolved since first forming. Here is the transcript from our chat:
What has been going on in Manic Pixi's world since the last time we chatted, how have things been between the band?
We have been amazing. We have really fallen into a rhythm this year ( no pun intended). We have this ease with one another. Making Iron Heart brought us together in a new way. To be locked in a room creating music, can really unite you. It can also be a disaster. I'm thrilled that we became even closer through the process.
Give us a sense of how your music has changed in sound since when you first started and how that change has translated in the studio?
We have transitioned into a more mature and eclectic sound. The biggest shift you'll notice is that the writing process was approached as a group. I wrote most of the songs for Sugar Bomb and that created a very one dimensional record. Iron Heart is different. It's meatier and has a lot of genres mingling with one another. The studio reflected our group writing dynamic. We approached every day as a team effort. Each person's voice was heard no matter what instrument was being tracked. We all weighed in.
When you first started the group, did you all have a sense of how you wanted to it sound and how did you learn to resolve creative differences?
When we started the group, I knew what I wanted the music to feel like and how I wanted the performances to effect people. For our show to be a big rock n roll party where anything could happen. As for the sound, it's a struggle to let it evolve naturally. But i'm really pleased with where we are and the progression makes sense to me.
How big of a influence has Drew been since coming to the band and Drew, how have you evolved as a musician since joining the band?
Drew Bastian is one of the most brilliant and talented people I have ever met. He has an amazing ear for arranging a song. He has that X factor that I've seen in very few musicians. He definitely has a producer's ear. The band really gelled together when he arrived.
What is the secret of making your live shows so explosive and incendiary, how do you manage to channel all your emotions and still have enough energy towards the end?
The live shows are my baby. Out of all the things we have done in this band, the shows are what I have had the most intensity for. We all practice and live active lifestyles which keep us stage ready. We stretch, warm up, keep away from the booze, and try to stay rested. But beneath the physical stuff, once we get on stage together, we can't help but energize each other. If i'm having a slow night, i look at one of them and I remember what we are there to do. It does the trick every time.
Take us behind the recording process behind "Iron Heart" and what the experience was like for everyone?
The Iron Heart experience could be summed up in the word "Teamwork". From writing the album to recording it, everyone had hands on the music. We all submitted song ideas to each other in the form of pitches. After that we picked the pieces we were most excited about and chipped away at them. Something that really helped us refine it's sound was demoing the entire thing months before we went into the studio. We had "Camp Pixi" where we recorded every song like it was the real thing and then critiqued it all. That prep really helped us fine tune what we were going for. There was a lot of cuddling in the studio both during the demos and the crunch time. I have found that our constant cuddling is the secret to our longevity.
What is the one favorite song off the new LP that you're most proud of?
I feel like I have a new favorite every week! But I usually come back to Dredging. It is also what i'm most proud of because of how intense vocal tracking was for that song in particular. I'm proud of myself for giving a good performance despite my urges to cry.
After shows and recording, what can we find you doing to pass the time?
We all have our own side stuff that keeps us busy. I spend a lot of time watching bad teen television, riding around on my bike and writing blog posts for various outlets. I'm also a pretty good cook.
What's coming up next for the rest of this year, any shows planned in Boston and are we going to see some more shirtless antics from Emmett?
Lots of cool tour planning happening in the MP camp. We definitely want to come back to Boston and have it in our tour mapping google doc. Oh pete, as if Emmett ever wears a shirt on stage!
Lastly, what is the one favorite thing you enjoy the most about being in this band?
I love everything about being in this band. Every single thing.
Thanks once again to Kat for being so gracious in doing this interview! These guys have been a wonder ever since first featuring them on the site a couple of years ago, dating back to when Kat appeared in that famous picture featuring the shirtless members of Yacht Club Films on the set of their music video for "Kiss Me" that exemplified the band's sexual prowess and their ability to pull people out of their shells and expose their true selves to the world. For more on Manic Pixi, 'Like' them on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter over here.