Miranda Sex Garden's line-up has changed once again with the departure of Kelly McCusker. The core of the group is now founder Katherine Blake (vocals, recorder, glockenspiel, piano), Ben Golomstock (guitars, keyboards, harmonium, glockenspiel, piano), Donna McKevitt (viola, violin, vocals) and Trevor Sharpe (percussion). Two addition musicians, Hepzibah Sessa and Kim Fahey, appeared on much of the album but weren't part of the songwriting process.
"If we have any more people getting in the writing the music, it will get more confusing than it already is," says Blake. "With a band like this, the last thing we need is more confusion!"
"Fairytales of Slavery" was produced by Einstrzende Neubauten's Alex Hacke, who Miranda Sex Garden had gotten to know when the two bands toured America together in 1993.
"Alex is totally mad and he has a very bizarre approach to anything at all," explains Blake. "He's very into organic sounds, but it's weird organic sounds that he comes up with. He refuses to sample anything, he will not compromise. He's inherently German"
The new LP took a total of seven months to complete, including mixing and breaks. The band found it beneficial to take time off during the recording process and think about what they were doing, rather than just record the whole LP in one block of time.
Miranda Sex Garden's sound has changed quite a bit since their first release, "Madra." That LP was a collection of madrigals, a far cry from the bands current lushly instrumentated music. Katherine says that when the band began she had no idea it would be heading in this direction.
"Like other things in my life, it just kind of happened, like being discovered in the first place," she says. "I never even entertained the idea of being in a band, I was a classical musician. But I was suddenly in this position where I had a record contract before I had a band, and so I thought I might as well do something with it and see what happens. I didn't really have a plot, it just kind of grew and grew. I think only now we're beginning to come up with a particular sound and can actually be called a band."
Miranda Sex Garden had their start when Blake, McKusker and former member Jocelyn West met at England's Purcell School of Music. The trio was busking on Portobello Road and caught the attention of Barry Adamson. Adamson had them sing on the soundtrack he was doing to the 1991 film "Delusion" and that led to a record deal with Mute.
Miranda Sex Garden's music does seem ideally suited to soundtrack work, and the band is eager to get involved with the field again. Blake and Golomstock are particularly interested, as they have recorded music together that doesn't fit Miranda Sex Garden but would work as soundtrack music.
"I think that to me the most important thing about music is communicating an atmosphere, I think Ben and I are both very interested in getting something that's completely intangible if you try to describe it in words, so that would really suit a film soundtrack," says Blake. "That way you're not restricted to any kind of verse-chorus structure or any kind of attempt to make it into anything at all really. You can just bring together a lot of atmosphere and conjure up particular pitches in your mind, which is something I relate to a lot more."
Golomstock also has another side project, doing music that is "mello with an air of menage" with bassist Kim Fahey.
In terms of songwriting, Miranda Sex Garden usually start with Golomstock coming up with "some weird thing" that the band will try to turn into a song. Blake writes all of the lyrics.
"Every song is completely different, the way we reach each finished piece," she says. "It's like totally random, kind of a luck process, when we try to integrate so many different tastes that when it actually is gelled and everybody in the band likes it it's a complete miracle"
Miranda Sex Garden have toured with many of their Mute labelmates, and the results have been mixed. While going on the road with Einstrzende Neubauten lead to good audience reaction, touring with Depeche Mode did not.
"I think we played really well because we were getting such an aggressive reaction that it really induced a kind of chemical reaction in the way we were playing," explains Katherine on playing live to stadiums packed with "rabid" Depeche Mode Fans. "Personally, I get off on any kind of extreme reactions from the audience, and it makes me play better and feel more alive, And being hated is just as good, or even better than being loved."
"I felt as if I was raging a little battle on the stage," adds Ben. "Because we'd get into a situation where we were literally hated very loudly by 20,000 Germans or whatever and had to make more noise and be more unpleasant than they were."
The first single off "Fairytales of Slavery" is "Peep Show," for which Ben directed a video for. The band plans on touring America in the fall.