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Mutes Promo 800x800

If you haven’t already streamed Mutes’ self-titled EP, here are the basics: Mutes, aka James Brown, is a (fantastic) Birmingham shoegaze act that is sure to please fans of artists such as Lotus Plaza, Girls Names and Craft Spells. I was fortunate enough to talk to Brown about the project:

Noise Polluter: How did Mutes get its start?

James Brown: Thanks so much for having me!
Mutes right now is just me, and it basically ‘began’ around March 2013. I’d been struggling to form a band for a while and I’d been stuck in my room doing Uni work for the past year so I’d had a lot of time to myself and to mess with my laptop and pedals etc. I realised that I had a few recordings that were all half-finished, but all that all had a similar vibe to them – enough to justify releasing them at least! So I tied up a bunch of loose ends, spent a long time mixing late into the night with Merlot and put it up on Bandcamp as soon as it was done (over a year ago originally). It was all done in my bedroom, and I’m not exactly Flood so there’s quite a lot of primitive sounding stuff hidden beneath the haze. It was fun!
NP: I’ve seen you compared to artists such as Lotus Plaza. What are some of your other influences?

JB: The obvious ones for this release are the whole Deerhunter/Atlas Sound stuff, MBV, Panda Bear, Appleseed cast etc. But I’m into a whole bunch of stuff. Right now I’m trying to make up for wasted time – Television, Velvet Underground, Broadcast, Swell Maps, the No New York stuff… I’m really into the post-punk scene that Canada has – Freak Heat Waves, Faux Fur, Cindy Lee and Viet Cong (holy shit man they’re good).
NP: What got you into shoegaze and ambient music? What about the genre appeals to you?

JB: I enjoy noises a lot – drones, oscillations etc. I think it’s the hypnotic effect of it that appeals to me most, but also the fact that it’s quite a delicate genre. I think that the ambiguity of a lot of ambient stuff hits harder for me emotionally than clear-cut stuff, especially in lyrics. I’m not into overly sincere or earnest lyrics. I prefer stuff that’s aesthetically or sonically pleasing over that which is emotionally dense – it makes them easier to take for your own.
NP: What are your future plans for the project?

JB: Lots of things! I just finished tracking a new EP up in Leeds. Its like 50% solo 50% full band. Totally different sound – lots of feedback and alternate tunings. It’s noisy and also pretty bleak. I’m gonna try and finish up a little EP of stuff done on my 4-track over the next few weeks too. Trying to stay busy!
NP: What upcoming albums are you looking forward to?

JB: The latest Chad VanGaalen album is awesome! A local band called God Damn are also incredible and they’ve just finished up a full length. The Gentle Friendly album should be cool too!
NP: And, last but not least- how would you describe your sound in three words?

JB: Cheap red wine.


I also encourage you to watch Brown play ‘Smother’ live here.

Photo via One Note Forever Records


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