What the world needs now is ‘Love, Sex & Dreams’…
Sister and brother duo MINIMAL SCHLAGER began in 2020 as a consequence of the pandemic. Based between London and Berlin, Alicia Macanás and Francisco Parisi began to develop a brand of synth heavy dreampop that was debuted on their ‘Voodoo Eyes’ EP in 2021.
Using the services of producer Robbie Moore whose credits have included THE IRREPRESSIBLES and PEACHES, the Argentine siblings have released their first long playing record ‘Love, Sex & Dreams’.
Artful, alluring and enchanting, from the ghostly ‘Forbidden Fruit’ and introspection of ‘Fate’ to the gorgeous Europop escapism of ‘Rush’ and the seductive uplift of ‘Glow’, ‘Love, Sex & Dreams’ is a wonderful debut album that does exactly what is says on the tin!
Alicia Macanás and Francisco Parisi chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about their concept of MINIMAL SCHLAGER and how with just ‘Love, Sex & Dreams’, the world would be a better place…
How is the sibling dynamic when making music compared with other bands that you have been in previously?
Alicia: We trust each other, which makes a lot of what we do easier when we both have strong personalities. Probably, the biggest difference between playing together and with other people is that there’s a level of tenderness that goes way further.
Would you have been working together had it not been for the pandemic? What were your own creative challenges, especially being in different countries?
Alicia: We got started in real life just before the pandemic locked us in different places. Luckily we both had our own studios at home, so we had the knowledge and the tools to work remotely and send each other projects as we progressed the songs. We used that first lockdown to work on the sound that would define the EP.
On your debut EP ‘Voodoo Eyes’, you chose to cover ‘Disorder’ by JOY DIVISION, what inspired your chosen arrangement?
Alicia: Around the time when we made ‘FMB’, we decided to do a JOY DIVISION cover and ‘Disorder’ just felt like the right one due to the state of the world. The whole process was very organic and spontaneous, from concept to end, there were merely a couple of days.
Do you have any favourite synths or tools when in the studio?
Fran: My favourite synth is my Minimoog, and I use a space echo delay on top of it for saturation and that extra dreamy feeling. I also really like toying around with the MicroKorg.
Unlike a lot of modern bands working on their debut album, you chose not to carry over any music from ‘Voodoo Eyes’ to ‘Love, Sex & Dreams’, was there any particular reason?
Alicia: ‘Voodoo Eyes’ was a reflection of the time when it was written and recorded. For the album, we were granted a scholarship by the Musicboard Berlin in Hellerau, Dresden, where we took our time to work together and craft what we had to say, and as the weeks passed we realised how the music had evolved and we had grown with it. We really wanted the album to have a story of its own.
You primarily sing in English, has this been a conscious decision for MINIMAL SCHLAGER, particularly with your cosmopolitan outlook?
Alicia: We have been living in an English environment for a long time and many of the situations we bring up actually happen in that language. Besides the actual sound of it, the phonemes, the phrasing, signing in your mother tongue can make you feel very exposed when addressing certain topics.
The opening song ‘Nana Del Caballo Grande’ is sung in Spanish but combines shoegaze with classical piano at the end, that is quite a combination?
Fran: Yes, I got hooked on the version that’s in ‘La Leyenda del Tiempo’ by Camarón de la Isla. It’s so layered and psychedelic, and I wanted to pay some tribute to it since I also was going through this obsession of Garcia Lorca and his work.
‘Rush’ was a song that made an important statement, what had been the mindset when you produced it?
Fran: We were both going through some stuff when we wrote it, and we both felt that we needed to calm down, take a breath and go on… I think that’s why we put that Angel chorus in it, we wanted it to be as epic as possible.
The endearing ‘Rush’ video was partly filmed on the London Underground, where did the idea come from and are there any funny stories you can tell from the filming?
Alicia: That part was spontaneous, but also something that I expected to happen sooner or later. We were on our way between locations when Francisco said “dance!” and I just went for it. Dancing is a key part of my life, there’s a good deal of physical expressiveness when I perform live, so I took the opportunity to bring out the vulnerability and the strength of the song amongst a group of strangers. Just like in a gig.
‘Before’ comes with a simple but effective video, how important is the visual aspect to MINIMAL SCHLAGER?
Alicia: Our music has been coming through as cinematic from the very first song, even before the ‘FMB’ video came out. We are both very drawn to visual arts when we are not making music, Francisco designs and I take photos. He’s been working on all the videos and makes sure that our image is consistent with the universe of our songs. We are attentive to pretty much every artistic aspect of this project.
‘Submission’ is quite different from the other songs on the album and is quite bouncy, how did it come together?
Fran: I was trying to write a dancey song and I came up with more of a punk riff / beat, and I think all got mixed up and some wavy 90s stuff came out.
‘Euphoria’ is almost electroclash in its construction, has the club environment been an important influence?
Fran: Not really… I was really trying to make a punk song, and I got really excited with the riff and went in that direction. I think there were other influences more important than the club scene.
Which are your own favourite songs from the album?
Alicia: I love them all, but if I have to pick… ‘Ridiculous’ is very relatable to my personality, I’m a bit of a dreamlike owl, hence the nighthawk floating in the outer space vibe of the song. It came out of a “wow, what’s going on!?” situation, a bit like ‘Fate’, ‘Euphoria’, ‘Glow’, ‘Submission’… you can spot a pattern in the album: we’ve been turning downer events into something more upbeat as a cleansing way to deal with it. But then you find the opposite at the end of the album: hopeful intentions dressed in devastating melancholy, such as ‘Prayers’; here, its sad mantra is what champions the purification ritual – it’s my go-to song when I am waiting to board a very early flight, the final organ note marks the day breaking.
Silly question but do you have any favourite Schlager songs?
Fran: More of a folky Schlager… but I really like ‘Die Blume aus dem Gemeindebau’ by Wolfgang Ambros.
How does it feel to be out playing live to audiences again?
Alicia: It’s very exciting. We’re giving the songs a different life with a drummer, Adrian Bang, with whom we are currently touring Europe. It’s beautiful to see people that otherwise wouldn’t have come across our music connecting with it.
What is next for MINIMAL SCHLAGER?
Alicia: For the moment we want to expand the ‘Love, Sex & Dreams’ tour and bring it to as many people as possible.
Fran: Work, work, work.
ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to MINIMAL SCHLAGER
Additional thanks to Billy Burrell-Williams at 9PR
MINIMAL SCHLAGER play London Moth Club on 4th November 2022
Text and interview by Chi Ming Lai
11th October 2022