We first got word of New Zealand native Miles McDougall’s Pikachunes project with “Nervous,” the addictive Pet Shop Boys-esque lead single off his first full-length release. In the last year or so, he’s also released two music videos from the new LP (check out “Shout It Out” below). McDougall is now slowly growing a following back home in New Zealand and more recently in the U.S., playing East Coast shows with Lil’ Chief Records labelmate Princess Chelsea. I recently got a chance to catch up with Pikachunes concerning the birth of his solo project, musical inspirations, gear of choice, and a recent visit to New York City.
Fishpork: How did you get started as Pikachunes? Where did the name come from?
Miles McDougall: Pikachunes started about 2 years ago after I had a pretty horrific skateboarding accident resulting in a lot of plates and pins being put in my arm. I was studying a Bachelor of Music, majoring in Jazz Performance on drums at the time. With the recovery time and rehab I needed on my arm, I turned to digital composition and production. The name came to me whilst I was in hospital under heavy amounts of morphine for pain. As cliche as it sounds I woke up with the name in my head and it stuck.
FP: You released your first full-length last month via Lil’ Chief Records. What was the songwriting process like for that record?
MM: The song writing for the album happened over the span of 6 months. Being a drummer I started off with all the beats and the songs really built themselves around that. I’m a firm believer in the stronger the rhythm section of a song, the stronger the song will be. So all the songs a bass and drums driven.
FP: What’s your favorite software to write music with? Favorite synth?
MM: I enjoy writing beats on reason. Then building the rest of the songs on Logic. My favorite synth is the Roland JX-305. Its the keyboard equivalent of the MC-505 groove box.
FP: Who are your musical influences?
MM: I like most releases from DFA records and Kitsune. I also grew up listening to a lot of the Pet Shop Boys, Eurythmics, B52’s and Matt Bianco, who are all groups I still adore and would definitely class as huge influences on my music.
FP: I really dug the videos for “Shout It Out” and “Just a Boy.” How did you come up with the concepts? Did you ever encounter a sleepy hotel desk clerk while in Japan?
MM: The Japan video was the concept of director Damien Shatford. It was part of his final submission for film school. The Just a Boy concept was my own. It was based around an experience I had as young boy where I was the only person that turned up to this boy from my schools 6th birthday. They awkwardness of that scenario has been something I never forgot and it seemed very suitable to portray a similar situation for that song. Japanese people are extremely welcoming and take their work very seriously. If anyone was sleeping I would say they’d be out of a job pretty fast.
FP: How was your recent trip to New York? What was the reception like? Any plans to return?
MM: I fell in love with New York hours into landing here. The shows have been a great learning experience and reception has only been positive. I want to eventually move here. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed coming from such a small country to New York but I feel personally like this is already my new home.
FP: I noticed the live show consists of you, your Mac, and mic. Any plans to expand the scope of the show with keyboards, live drums, etc.?
MM: I also use an Akai MPK 25 in my live set now, so I am playing keys live and triggering my drums live also. I am planning on putting together a band for my next album. The difficulty is finding good musicians that are able to take fairly strict direction, but I am already in the process of pulling a band together.
FP: What are you listening to at the moment? Do you have a favorite album so far in 2011?
MM: Best Album of this year so far for me is John Maus – We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves. Can’t get enough of it. I’ve also been listening to James Blake, Wu Lyf and re listening to the M83 back catalog.