While Mindboy says he “feels so comfortable” in the indie-pop genre, the Swiss musician is equally interested in defying music’s algorithms. Below, Happy Mag caught up with the singer-songwriter to talk all things ‘drowning in your love’ and the promise of new music.
Every so often, a pop song comes along that subverts the formulas and prescribed digestibility of the genre, and instead uses the well-travelled sound for deeper introspection and experimentation. We were treated to that kind of song last month, when Mindboy released his pristine new single drowning in your love. While the track makes good on pop music’s promise of catchy hooks and immaculate vocals, it also enriches the genre with crisp self-production and a level of lyrical introspection usually avoided by mainstream pop stars.
drowning in your love is the latest in a string of shimmering releases from the Switzerland-based Mindboy. With its thoughtful take on the oft-overwhelming nature of love, the single packages deep themes within the context of a blissful banger, a feat only enhanced by Mindboy’s distinct rustic vocals. It’s for all these reasons that, when he sat down for an exclusive interview with Happy Mag, Mindboy says he “feels so comfortable in the genre” of alt-pop.
Below, we caught up with Mindboy for a chat on all things drowning in your love, self-production and his experience of the “hardest time when songwriting.” Scroll down for our full interview with the singer-songwriter, and listen to his new single drowning in your love below. In the meantime, keep an eye out for Mindboy’s upcoming single smile again, which is set for release later this month.
HAPPY: What are you up to today?
MINDBOY: Not much actually, I just got up and I think today will be a quiet day. I’ll probably make myself some eggs and do some Pilates to stretch a bit. After that, I will go to university, listen to what my professors have to say. Other than that, hopefully it will be a nice day.
HAPPY: Where’s home, and what’s the music scene like in your neck of the woods?
MINDBOY: I spend the week in Zurich and often go back to my hometown in a small village in the mountains. So, I would say I have two homes. In Zurich, there is an active music scene with many young up-and-coming artists. However, it is difficult to make a living from music. Most people, including me, do music and work or study part-time. I would describe the Swiss music scene as very inconspicuous and low-key.
I mean I really don’t mean it in a bad way. We have a few talented english-speaking artists that I am aware of. There are a lot of hidden gems who do great work and don’t get the attention they deserve. There aren’t really any artists who are known worldwide, but I don’t think that’s too desirable. It would be cool to see more artists who can make a living from music.
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HAPPY: Tell us about your average day.
MINDBOY: My average day starts with a good breakfast and morning Pilates with my girlfriend, at least I try to do it every day. After that I go to university, work, and edit some songs. After Uni, I either go to the gym, play football or eat something delicious. In the evening, I watch series, do some music-stuff, go out or build a dope Lego. I’m currently building a sick Ferrari which takes up a lot of time. So yeah, you can say I’m living the dream. I really can’t complain.
HAPPY: What about your ultimate day?
MINDBOY: I think my ultimate day would be exactly like my average day, but instead of going to university, I would prefer to play at festivals or concerts. But I would also love to go out with my friends, especially in the summer when you can throw something on the barbecue. I’ve heard the barbecues in Australia are on a whole different level, so that would certainly be a great idea too.
HAPPY: How has your background and experiences influenced your music – with regard to being raised in Switzerland?
MINDBOY: I have a very musical father who showed me a lot of songs and sang them to me at a very early age. I remember that we always listened to CDs, whether at home or on the road. My favorite bands were ACDC and Red Hot Chili Peppers, even though I didn’t understand a word of English. It just sounded right. My father was always a big fan of acoustic guitars and talked about how they were the most important part of the songs. Personally, I was always a bit more taken with the vocals, especially the harmonies.
I was never really a big fan of Swiss music. There was never an artist that I saw and thought “wow that’s crazy”. I was probably always too averse to the language. Swiss German had no artistic effect in my eyes. It was a language for talking, and English was a language for singing. I know that there are some great Swiss artists, just to make that clear. But I was oriented towards English music at an early stage. That hasn’t changed much today.
HAPPY: Tell us about your creative community.
MINDBOY: I’m not gonna lie, I am a very isolated person when it comes to music. I consider making and recording music as very personal. That’s why I would describe my creative community as very close. There are few people I like to work with, especially in the visual field. I always have the most fun working with my friends and taking photos and videos.
HAPPY: What drew you to the indie-pop genre, and what artists do you draw inspiration from?
MINDBOY: I am constantly trying out new genres. When I tried some indie tracks, I quickly realized that my voice and the way I write and produce songs fit with this genre. I love to layer vocals and for my music to be simple but filled with emotions. That’s why I feel so comfortable in this genre. Funnily enough, I don’t really listen to a lot of indie bands myself. My biggest inspirations are artists like Mac Miller or Joji.
I can just listen to just about anything and every time I think to myself, I could do something like that (of course I can’t). What I also like is that you can’t really find a single genre for both of them, or a lot of good artist.
As an Indie artist, many times you are forced by streaming platforms like Spotify to be classified in a genre in order to obey the algorithm. From time to time, I feel a bit limited by it myself. That’s why I think it’s all the better if you don’t always bow down to these guidelines.
HAPPY: Tell us about your penchant for short songs?
MINDBOY: The longer I make music, the shorter my songs become. I’m certainly influenced by this general trend that songs tend to get shorter.
For me personally, it’s often easier to write shorter songs, because otherwise I get bogged down in my ideas and concepts. Countless times I have put songs aside because I was not able to write a second or third part.
Over time, however, I have noticed that I prefer to write shorter songs and focus even more on the key parts of the songs. For example, I work longer on a catchy hook instead of writing any other part that sounds forced. That’s why I think in my case it makes sense to keep the songs short.
HAPPY: Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind your latest single, drowning in your love?
MINDBOY: drowning in your love was one of the first indie songs I wrote. It was actually a winter day and I was thinking about what songs I could release in the spring. I often find myself in a melancholic hole at this time of year and write a handful of sad, depressing songs that never get released. However, I was in a kind of euphoric phase and I didn’t want to sing that many sad songs.
So I focus on my favorite theme, lots and lots and lots of love. I had the lyrics and the melody within 10-15 minutes and was immediately happy with the result. I let myself be inspired by my own feelings, my infatuation and what it triggers in me. The song itself is really dealing with my own insecurities and how love can get me out of this hole.
HAPPY: How did you approach the production and composition of drowning in your love to achieve its impact?
MINDBOY: The production of the song was much easier than, for example, a rnb or pop-house track. I love to create an alternation between crips/clear and honest and raw production.
My vocals are usually quite heavily processed and enhanced, with a little character lost now and then. I try to work around this more and more by creating different layers. You record different types of vocals, high and low, loud and soft, far away and close. There are also 5-6 stems where I just sing along, as if I were my own crowd.
In my opinion, this is crucial part of this song. Otherwise, the structure and production are quite like other songs of mine. I think in a first step it is always important to imagine how you want your song to sound.
After you have recorded the first vocals, you often notice quite quickly in which direction a song will go, whether you can follow your own expectations or whether you should take a different path. Over time, I have learned that you can’t force much in music.
Either it fits or it doesn’t. Fortunately, with drowning in your love, it did fit.
HAPPY: Your music has been described as both raw and immaculately produced. How do you balance those two elements in your work? And could you tell us about your creative process when it comes to writing and recording music?
MINDBOY: Personally, I consider it a huge compliment when someone tells me that my songs are immaculately produced. At the end of the day, you try to do the best you can with every song. You invest hours and days to achieve that unique sound. For me, it was often the case that I got too involved in a mix and thus took all the soul out of the song. I try to avoid this by enhancing the raw factor.
The more I live with the fact that things must be imperfect, the more I recognize myself in the songs. Since I produce my own songs, I can get to grips with the sounds during this process. During the process I already think about how the hook could sound, what mood I want to convey and what I want to achieve.
HAPPY: You produced drowning in your love entirely on your own. Can you walk us through the production process and any challenges you faced?
MINDBOY: I usually have the hardest time with songwriting. But in the case of “drowning in your love” it was all a little different. I had a pretty clear idea in my head from the beginning and the construct of the song was put together very quickly.
That’s why I had a lot of fun with this song. The vocals fit right into the mix, the drums fit like a glove and when I recorded the baseline, I knew it was going to be something nice.
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I think the production was pretty straight forward if you just focus on the instrumentals. Compression, reverb, panning and the usual stuff. The vocals, in my opinion, live from a subtle distortion and layering. This creates a certain kind of euphoria and liveliness like a live performance.
This kind of production works best for me with indie pop songs. With RnB tracks I pay more attention to these crystal clear and crisp vocals. On the whole, I was able to experiment a lot, and to my delight, a lot of things fit together very well.
HAPPY: Do you have any gear that you rely on?
MINDBOY: Actually, I need very little to make music, at least if I look at other artists. To record my vocals, I only need my mic (Neumann TLM 102) and an interface (Focusrite Scarlett).
In addition, I work with at least a keyboard and a guitar. I edit all my songs on Logic. I think you shouldn’t focus too much on the gear, because it takes relatively little to achieve a pretty good quality. It’s often tempting to buy new tools, but there’s a lot of hardware that I still don’t use most of the time. I keep it simple.
HAPPY: What can we expect from you in terms of future releases or collaborations?
MINDBOY: My next song will be released on May 26th. The song is called smile again and combines indie pop with house elements. It’s a pretty personal song for me and I’m really looking forward to the release.
In terms of future collaborations, I’m always open to working with talented artists from all over the world. This of course includes musicians from Australia, so hit me up!
HAPPY: What makes you happy?
MINDBOY: The people and the things I keep in my life that I could never give up. My family, my girlfriend, my passion and my dreams that I hope to achieve soon. Fortunately, there are quite a few things that make me happy. Just like future would say, “life is good”.