A few weeks before experimental indie group Hundred Waters released their sophomore effort Moon Rang Like A Bell, now available for download on iTunes, I had the pleasure of speaking with front woman Nicole Miglis as she was en route to the OWLSA practice space referred to as "The Nest." Now a quartet, Hundred Waters have moved up in the industry extremely quickly in the industry as Skrillex himself and the OWLSA label took an interest in them early on. But after our conversation, I discovered that Hundred Waters has a unique view of both their music career and development as artists, with the full support of their big-name label.
EM: So you guys have an album coming out soon? I was struck by the fact that you formed as a group in 2012 and were signed the very same year. That's pretty rare.
NM: It did happen really fast, but I do believe that we've all played in different incantations and projects so we had experience coming in. The boys in the band all played together in different projects from middle school on and have all known each other for a really long time. I also did solo shows in high school and worked with different bands before we started playing together. So in a way, it was like we'd all been playing together for a really long time even though we did start writing our own material until 2012. It was pretty surreal how everything started falling into place and before we knew it, we were signed to the OWLSA label and on tour. It was kind of a whirlwind.
EM: It seems like you all came into this with a lot of prior experience, so even though it was your first time together you were all ready for it.
NM: Yeah, we were all pretty used to it at that point so it was just a Craigslist ad for a bass player (laughs) and it didn't feel like we were just coming into a band with random people.
EM: How was your SXSW experience this year in terms of promoting the upcoming album?
NM: Well SXSW was it's own microcosm and this year was by far my favorite. We'd played it twice before but this time was pretty hectic because it's always difficult to transport yourself there! Our set at the OWLSA BBQ was actually our first show; we rolled up about fifteen minutes before that and it was a nice warm up for the rest of the festival.
EM: As a band especially!
NM: Yeah definitely, when you have a bunch of equipment it can get really, really crazy. We only did about three or four shows and got to go to a bunch of other events this time around. We met a lot of artists and got to know a lot of new people.
EM: It's a great one for that, in my experience people are very approachable at SXSW.
NM: We definitely had that experience as well.
EM: So how was allying with Skrillex and OWLSA been in terms of your development as artists? From what I've read he took an interest in you guys pretty early on in your career.
NM: It's been nothing but positives! They're all very helpful and supportive of the things that we want to do. Like right now for example we're about to start practice at a place that they call "The Nest," which is a gigantic warehouse with a ton of rooms downstairs. It's great to have the resources to do what we want to do. They really don't put too much pressure on us.
EM: It sounds like you get a lot of artistic freedom.
NM: Yeah definitely, that's a big part of it. OWLSA is in the process of expanding the genres that they work with and they're really into doing more unique and bizarre music.
EM: I saw your latest music video for "Cavity" on the NPR site; it's very artsy in nature. What were some of your inspirations behind it?
NM: I found Michael Langan and saw a few videos of his and got really excited about what he was doing artistically. So I put together a package and wrote a letter to him explaining what the song means to me. But a lot of the concept was his for the actual video so I can't take too much credit but I did send some rough ideas to him of what it thought and felt like so we were on the same page.
EM: So you played off each other in a sense, because he obviously drew inspiration from what you sent.
NM: It was definitely collaboration, but he did a really amazing job executing all of these ideas that we'd put together.
EM: It was a beautiful video, very different.
NM: We really liked the way that it was put together, our label definitely wants us to make songs that will reach more people but it can feel really empty just making it to do that. It's been awesome how much artistic freedom that they have given us. I'm a big fan of abstract film and it was just so cool to have the opportunity to reach out to another artist and work with them on something through a label.
EM: It seems like you guys are in a good position right now. I'd heard the second single from the album "X-Talk," and wondered if there were any thoughts that you'd like to share on both the new single and upcoming album?
NM: There is a lot to say, "X-Talk" was the last song that we finished recording on the album and was hard to write like they all were. Most of the album was written on the road during our tour in hotels and places like that. The music was done before the words were done, the melodies were all in my head and I had a whole song mapped out but once we got off tour I had to fit a lot of words into predetermined melodies, which is always very difficult for me because more concentration is required and music is much more instinctual. You can let go more in music, and writing is more hard concentration.
EM: Music is so much more of a feeling, and does come out of you in a different way.
NM: Yes, with writing I feel like I'm battling so many more set rules and regulations and it's harder to get control of it and say what I want because it's so much more loaded. Music is much more abstract and there is more room to play with it.
EM: I would agree with that, it's a different type of intelligence and way of using the brain.
NM: Yeah, and with that song it came out of a conversation that I had one day, and had to fit in a lot of words and phrases around the music that had already been written. I felt like for some reason that was how it should start. It was difficult to shed all of those things in order to get the right order and pacing to it, and a lot of outlines to fill in that were already there.
EM: It's a different approach, but it looks like it worked out well especially with the lyric video to go with it! (Laughs)
NM: Yes, it definitely did. (Laughs)
EM: So what are your aspirations for you sophomore effort?
NM: Our only really aspirations are to make a good album, say what we wanted to and hopefully reach as many people as possible. Something that would engage the listeners from start to finish and hopefully last longer than us.
EM: I think that in any art form people hope for that.
NM: Definitely, and anything beyond that is somewhat out of our control, you put in as much time as you possibly can which we did, try to open up those channels and just let the rest happen.