After taking a break from the internet to enjoy another weekend at Shaky Knees Music Festival, we are pleased to continue to highlight the 2019 lineup with Mipso. Releasing its fifth album, Edges Run, in April, the band took over the stage at SK ‘19 this past weekend with its electric energy and North Carolina-infused sound. — Erin Patrick
You just released your fifth album, Edges Run, in April (congrats!). How do you feel that this album is different from previous albums?
It feels wild to look back on the years we've been making music together and have the albums as milestones. This one is a kind of settled, introspective record, taking stock of where we are individually and collectively. I think it’s the product of us having been a band for what feels like a long time now; we’re like 1000 shows in together, over about 7 years. So we’ve kind of run a long road, so, like any relationship, we were in that place of questioning why we were in this relationship together, and what it meant and what was important about it.
Simultaneously, we were reflecting a lot about the November election; I think the final recording session was inauguration day. Those things were definitely looming and we were confused and angry, and had maybe larger implications to our doubts than we’d previously had. So to us, these tunes are that reckoning; not all of them, but most of them, and I think even the ones that have a sunnier disposition — if you got in deep with one of us about them — I think they’d show a dark undercurrent. We were also more confident exploring some new sonic areas with this record. I think those are obvious, but what wasn't obvious until we got deep into the session was that we'd need some space to let them shine. Hopefully that space is around enough to make that clear.
How long did it take for Edges Run to come to fruition? What is your creative process like when it comes to creating an album?
Our process has changed for each record. We're actually writing the next record currently, and doing a massive revisit and recalibration of our process. For Edges Run, we had a number of tunes leftover from our Coming Down the Mountain session that we thought would be well suited to bringing to Todd Sickafoose, the producer of the record. We also had a lot of hooks for that record that we fleshed out in the studio, as well as a number of co-writes that happened either immediately before or during the session. It was a wild mixture of the many ways a song can be born, which I think adds to the magic we thought we were finding throughout. From the start of the gathering and writing process, to the release, we had been working on the batch of tunes for about two years, I guess.
How has your musical perspective shifted as a band, and where does that leave Mipso today?
Our sound and creative process have been changing from the moment they began. There definitely isn't a set sound or writing formula we're bound to. I guess we started with a shared interest in exploring the traditional musics of North Carolina. Initially that had a pretty strong bluegrass and old-time bend, though now we are more on the folk/americana side of things, but our focus on songs has stayed consistent. We like moving people with stories and feelings, and as we've grown and experienced more music — individually and collectively — the sound has opened up a bit to what we find most true and important in the moment.
Your ties to North Carolina come through in your lyrics, which often reference southern landscapes. How has the south, and both its traditions and progress, influenced your music?
I think we are definitely a product of our home state — and the contradictions, or tension, we sometimes feel between our past and traditions, as well as our progress and fluidity, is something we think about a lot. We wouldn't be the musicians we are without the specific roots that you can find in the traditional music of our state. And we wouldn't be the people we are without the moral backbone we've tried to hone in on that lets us raise our voices when we see something deeply wrong happening. For better or worse, both of those things have brought us some attention, and we're happy to keep riding the line between the two, while staying on what we see to be the better side of it.
Which acts were you excited to be sharing a lineup with at this year's Shaky Knees?
So many! I've been hoping to see Sharon Van Etten on this tour, been waiting a long time to see Natalie Prass and Lucy Dacus, and always love checking in on Rayland Baxter and Jim James. It was an insane lineup.