New Band of the Month: Mind Pool

It was a tough call this month, with a tight selection of some really great bands, but our (which is to say your; you voted from them, their yours) clear winners are… drum roll unnecessary because their name is in the title of this article… Mind Pool!

Yes, having fought off some stiff competition, you cultured vultures out there, fell hard and fast into the psychedelic sounds of Mind Pool. I’ll admit, you guys’ dive wasn’t graceful, it was closer to elegance of a belly flop, but you made a big splash in the way of Mind Pool. Okay, even I’ve had enough of my pool-based analogies. Officially stopped.

For those who missed the vote: Mind Pool are a three piece coming out of Cape Town. They’ve been making waves across South Africa with their own fluid brand of jam, flowing in and out of your more spacious and hypnotic genres; psychedelia, shoegaze, space rock, drone rock, dream-pop, and even getting some good ol’ blues in the mix too. However, the band are hoping to take their sprawling sounds to further afield, and if their winning the vote is anything to go by, there’s definitely some space to do so.

Knowing your thirst for new music, and your wrath when we don’t give it to you, we caught up with Mind Pool for a quick Q&A to help you get to know your New Band of the Month: November. The guys were kind enough to take us up on that, and the result is a great chat. The band let us in on how they got together, what music means to them, how they approach writing, and the South African music scene with some great in-depth answers. Oh, and there’s even some new music on the November horizon. November really is Mind Pool’s month. Have a read. Get to listening.

Firstly, congratulations on being voted Cultured Vultures’ New Band of November. Secondly, how’s things? Thirdly, who are we talking to today?

Thank you! It’s always nice to get recognized by total strangers.  It’s summer in Cape Town and things are good! We are Christopher, Kenan, and Oliver.

Having essentially voted for you as their new favourite band, I would imagine our readers would like to get to know you a little better. Could you tell us a little about yourselves. How did Mind Pool come to be? What makes the three of you tick?

Mind Pool started out as a solo project of Kenan’s back in 2013, when he put together a bunch of self-produced demos under that name.  It wasn’t long before he put out the call for some other musicians to collaborate with, and Chris and Ollie were logical choices.  Ollie had played with Kenan in a previous band, while Chris had toured with said group in his previous band! So there was already a lot of cross-pollination going on.  As often happens, we started out without any clear goals in mind, adapted some of Kenan’s songs and wrote some new ones, and fairly soon had a decent set put together. Having all played in very different bands before, Mind Pool presented a really cool opportunity for us to get into a new style of music, and one where we could really push ourselves to experiment with new ways of doing things.  It’s that drive to experiment with our own personal styles and with each other as musicians that makes us tick, if anything.

There is a potent strain of psychedelia apparent in your music, of all sorts of varieties. Is this a style of music that you’ve always been drawn to? Is there a strong scene for psychedelia around Cape Town, or have you always drawn from the classic touchstones for it? Hendrix through Hawkwind passed Pink Floyd up to Spacemen 3 and around Monster Magnet?

We don’t feel like we ever set out to make a specific type of music.  Of course, our music does have strong psychedelic tendencies, but we prefer to use that term in a descriptive rather than a categorical way, in the sense that we would describe music as ‘psychedelic’ because of the way it affects our minds when we listen to it, rather than because it fits into a specific genre. The three of us come from quite different musical backgrounds that overlap in an interesting way, so if you hit any one of us with any given list of artists it’s likely that he’d be super into a handful of them and have barely even heard of another handful – but this combination would be different for each of us!  Certain giants of the genre like Pink Floyd and Hendrix are fairly unavoidable though. We’re very free with and often unaware of the influences on which we draw, so it’s always really interesting to have those similarities pointed out. Within Cape Town, there is a growing psychedelic scene (spearheaded by the good people at Psych Night) that continues to provide bands like us with a lot of support and inspiration.

Given the sprawling nature of your songs, do you often write with a structure in mind, or is it a case of exploration through jamming to see where you end up?

The short answer is: a bit of both.  Some of our songs have fairly standard structures, while others are more complex or free-form.  We’ll often have a rough framework in mind when we start working on a song, but we prefer to jam songs out rather than put them together at a distance, so changes to the structures happen more organically this way.  We also record and produce all our own material, which allows us to build the songs in our own unique way.  Again, this is more born out of experimentation than any kind of plan!

You’ve got quite a catalogue of tracks in your armoury, can we expect anymore on the horizon? Any big releases planned?

To be honest we’ve only got two proper songs (our debut single, ‘Lacuna’, and ‘Fade Away’, released as part of a compilation of local psychedelic bands) and a handful of demos out at the moment, but we are currently wrapping up a five-track EP, entitled Recurrence, to be released around the middle of November. This is something we’ve been working on for quite some time, so we’re very excited about it!

How about live, are you touring at the moment? How do we get to experience Mind Pool in a live setting?

One of the unfortunate things about making music at the tip of Africa is that, due to the dual forces of geography and economics, being able to play for people around the world is a far more difficult task than it is for a band at our level in, say, Europe or America.  It’s one of the main reasons that a lot of South African bands that have something special to offer often don’t get a chance to do so.  It would be great to see some more international labels and promoters paying more attention to the South African scene and taking some chances on bands from here.  However, we’re not letting any of that stop us!  We are planning to make a tour of South Africa in January of 2016 and are setting our sights on the northern hemisphere for later in the year.

We touched upon the music scene in around Cape Town earlier, but are there any bands you’d recommend we need to check out? Then again, outside of Cape Town, who would you direct our attentions towards?

There are a bunch of bands in Cape Town and South Africa at large doing some really original and world-class stuff at the moment.  To name a few: Medicine Boy, Sol Gems, Bateleur, Retro Dizzy, and The Comet Caesar.  International names are too many to mention, but a random selection of some of the more obscure bands we’ve been getting into lately includes Dead Heart Bloom, The Limiñanas, The Make-Up, and The Warlocks.

And finally, our Cultured Vultures vulture goes by the name of Voltaire, if you had an especially cultured vulture, what would you call it?

Brian Pond, Esq.

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