We first got into Mafia Lights after happening across a link to their label, the innovative Teeth Records, buried at the bottom of a long blog post, since then the Surrey collective have become a firm feature on our summer playlists and their brand of twitching, sun drenched, Lo-fi electro (yeah it’s pretty hard to define) hasn’t really been off repeat since. The guys, specifically James, were kind enough to answer a few questions about the Vhs release, their current projects and the extra-terrestrial mystery of their name:
Starting at the start, how did Mafia Lights come about?
In its current incarnation Mafia Lights has existed for about a year, a result of purging members of our previous band and replacing them with machines
Do you all have set roles in the group or is it fluid?
Everyone does everything, we try to avoid limiting each band members’ talents to one particular instrument. In live performances we rotate 2 guitars, a bass, and synthesizers between the 3 of us.
Who are your key musical influences?
We each have our own unique influences. There is no dominant ‘sound’ that we want to replicate or achieve, and whenever we have begun writing music that is significantly influenced by a band, it is dragged in 3 different directions and thus becomes warped and triangulated so that it is something new. Our overall influences extend from the first psychedelic era, to proto-punk, right up to today’s continually innovating electronica.
Do you feel like part of any particular ‘scene’ or do you find Surrey pretty barren musically?
There is no scene here other than our group of friends, who have each successfully launched themselves into the music eye. Mafia Lights, Vondelpark, Auction, Disclosure, Amusement, Beau, consist of about 11 or 12 members in total, who we see almost every day and spend most of our free time with… We aren’t a scene we’re just a group of people who love music. It’s incredibly motivating to see all of your friends succeed and to be able to ride the wave with them. Surrey in general, though, is pretty barren… There’s puddles of hardcore emo bands playing pubs and band nights, but there’s no momentum in any of the other acts that we very rarely come across. We’re the only ones who had the motivation to try and get something out of this.
I’ve heard you’ve been collaborating with Disclosure, how’s it sounding?
In the process of recording our new songs, set for release in the months to come, we hooked up with Guy Lawrence from Disclosure to collaborate on the production element of the music. We ended up spending a few days in the studio with him trying different things and working out all his crazy tools and programs, as well as smoking a lot of cigarettes on his roof, upsetting the auction that was being held downstairs, and listening to a teddy bear-shaped vinyl on repeat.
We had a lot of different ideas for the tracks but have since finished production ourselves, hoping that Guy will get his ideas down for a remix.
You released your last Ep on Vhs, how did all that come about and what plans do you have for the next release?
We’re really excited about releasing some material in the next few months. We’ve taken a song from the VHS called ‘Spiriting’ and have made a brand new video for it which has actually resulted in me being left with an infected hand, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg cos just round the corner from that we’re releasing some brand new stuff. We’ve got something massive in mind but we can’t tell you yet. The VHS came from the idea of being in an obsolete environment in Surrey… I mean it’s not old fashioned or anything but when you are making music in an environment that has nothing to offer you in that category, its like the environment has become obsolete to the interests of the younger generation. It’s not just the format but also the video content on the VHS that makes this point… we filmed the footage on handheld video cameras, tweaking the images of life’s simple pleasures with minimal, ageing effects.
Cheers for all your help, last of all why/what is ‘Mafia Lights’?
We can’t tell you exactly what Mafia Lights is, but it was originally derived from an ongoing extra terrestrial myth in North America, that has to this day had no definitive answers. We spelt it wrong and so it’s unlikely that anyone will be able to find out what it really is we are named after other than ourselves. That’s pretty cool isn’t it?
Check out the Ep below: