9 Questions with Passion Pit Frontman Michael Angelakos

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This summer, the Mercedes-Benz Evolution Tour bridges both sides of the Atlantic Ocean together for an unforgettable set of shows that shouldn’t be missed. Thanks to headliners Passion Pit and Bastille, the tour combines British Rock with American Indietronica. We caught up with Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos after the tour’s recent pitstop in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Palladium to talk touring, luxury, desert island discs and his band’s latest album, Kindred. 

How did your involvement with the Mercedes-Benz Evolution tour come about?

I was asked as Passion Pit if I was willing to submit and recreate some of the music to align with Mercedes-Benz not too long ago, but initially it was how it came to work with our touring. It turned out to be a really interesting and fun collaboration. I can say that most partnerships don’t really end up allowing you this much creative freedom, so I’m very happy about it.

What can we expect from your stops on the Mercedes-Benz Evolution Tour?    

I can’t say too much at this moment, but I will say that the band and I are extremely excited to bring a much different show this late summer/fall. The Mercedes-Benz show will be maybe the first show that we play with this new setup.

What does the word luxury mean to you?

Put as simply as possible, I think it’s everything that you want but don’t really need, but particularly upper tier in that quality is often far more important than practicality. Quite frankly, there is a need for art, but most of art is technically luxury when it comes to ownership, etc.

What are a few of your favorite fashion brands?

Lanvin, Dior, Jil Sander, Fendi, Thomas Maier, Zegna… those are pretty incredible.

What are your secret LA spots?

I honestly know very little about LA, I’m always working.

Tell us about your favorite track on Kindred and the personal significance behind it.

We were supposed to be recording 5 foot 10 but we couldn’t figure out any of the production elements that we needed to start the song. So instead of giving up on it, I decided it would be fun for all of us to kind of approach the song the opposite way we had been approaching passion pit music prior to recording ten feet tall, which was always to use synthesizers and electronic elements first and then add any acoustic or acoustic-electric elements outside of synthesis later on, including live drums in this instance. So I thought it’d be fun to perform the song almost as live as possible. Chris played drums while I played B3 organ and as I played the organ I queued the studio assistant to engage the rotary to fast or slow rotary while also cuing Chris, saying when we would be coming up to a new part, or when to get quiet, loud, and so on. So while Chris and I performed live, Alex tracked the entire thing in the control room. We finished the tracking, came in, heard it, and realized this is going to be too great. Didn’t know if it was album-like yet, but there was something lasting about it. So I began to layer on only Mellotron strings and sounds, guitars run through pedals to make them sound like horns, and make everything essentially without the use of synthesizers. we got to 90% of the tracks without any synthesizers and then decided that when I sang, we’d tune/synthesize it. It’s the only element of every passion pit that isn’t really synthesized, it has to be messy. It was funny but great, and it helped keep five foot ten as a working track months later. Thats how we started the album but actually working backwards.

What are your 7 desert island discs?

Off the top of my head…

Nas – Illmatic

Verdi – Falstaff (I have my favorite performance, mint, first press)

Steve Reich – Music for 18 Musicians

Beach Boys – Surfer Girl

Oscar Peterson – Exclusively for My Friends 1-3 (I’m cheating, whatever)

Nina Simone – At Newport (live)

Blur – 13

What artist would you love to work with and why?

Paul McCartney. He likes jingles as much as hours of modular synth drones. Jon Hopkins and Fennesz, too. And Tim Hecker. These guys are some of my biggest influences regarding sound design.

What is the first luxury item you bought yourself and do you still own it?

A Paul Smith suit jacket from the Bon Marche when I was 17. That was my first fundraising call. I wore that thing everywhere. I think I got rid of it, but I don’t think it was in my control.

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