EXCLUSIVE: Interview and Performance from Midas Bison

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Midas Bison is an artist that defies traditional labels. Perhaps emulating the best parts of R&B performers, and James Murphy, the El Paso based musician has dedicated his life to discovering a way to integrate the poetry of existence into his music. The product of his efforts is a deeply personal sound that is difficult to compare to any other music being made today. I sat down with Midas Bison to discuss his processes, influences, past, and future. Midas Bison is also the first in Indie is Not a Genre’s Basement Sessions – lo-fi covers of randomized songs. Midas Bison got LCD Soundsystem’s “I Can Change” and provides a unique spin on the track.

Evan Almeida: When would you say your new song has been completely finished, how do you know?

Midas Bison: I feel like I have to police my creative process. I could tinker on a beat for hours. Historically my goal is to reach a point where I can’t help but bob my head. I try to let portions of the song come out organically, but often choruses and hooks are true to my original inspiration. The first verse of “I Still Try” was made up at the time of recording, but the chorus was something I’d been singing to myself for weeks.

EA: What are some of the other bands or projects you’ve been involved in? How have you prioritized what you do?

MB: In highschool I was in a band that my friend Tobin and I started, he played drums and I played guitar. The band went through several metamorphoses, changed styles and influences, and eventually disassembled due to a lot of personal circumstances. I had some rough periods when I was that age, I was not the person I am today and I’m blessed to still be friends with all of those guys.  I haven’t been in a proper band since. All other projects have been collaborations between myself and other independent artists.

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EA: Do you prefer to write music by yourself or to collaborate?

MB: I think that solo artists are control freaks, so there is a level I own up to wanting full agency over what I create. I think that independent customization is a really fascinating aspect of music today. Although the amount of talent generated by individuals with computers in their bedroom creates a surplus of music to sift through, at least everyone has the capacity to do what they feel inspired to create.

That being said, something I’ve gotten caught up in is an excessive desire to control every aspect of my artistry, I forget that it is healthy to let creativity grow in other ways. Its the same mentality as crafting a social media profile only to display what you want others to see – no matter what, the real you will always shine through. So I’ve been trying to collaborate more.

EA: Where did you get the name Midas Bison? The crown logo?

MB: I was in Portland, OR with my friend Monarcadia and we were joking about band names, and I suggested one of our EPs be named “Midas Bison.” It sounded cool and assonant. When I moved back to Madison the name really stuck with me, and it developed a complex meaning.

First, Midas. I’m a firm believer that we are monarchs of our own domain, and we have rulership over our bodies and our lives. King Midas was bestowed his power of the gold touch by Dionysus, my favorite greek god, because who doesn’t love wine, poetry, theater and partying? Midas loved gold and I love gold. Furthermore, Midas’ tragedy teaches us to not let greed shadow things that are truly valuable.

Second, Bison. I am highly aware that we are animals that coexist with other beings. Insulated by urbanization, we tend to forget our connection to animals. I’m not faux spiritual or anything, but there was a point when humans and bison formed a reciprocal relationship in North America. Whole ecosystems and species depended on bison. They are the original kings of the American Plains.

The dichotomy between a calculated, gold loving ruler and a wild, free roaming animal is an intersection that reflects my personality. I am always grappling to find a middle ground between these polarized ideas.

EA: Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations? Do they kind of evolve with every EP or some stay consistent? 

MB: I feel like each release has been influenced by slightly different things, but the albums that inspire  me constantly are “Merriweather Post Pavillion” by Animal Collective, “Give Up” by The Postal Service, “Alopecia” by Why?, “Ratatat” by Ratatat, “Swim” by Caribou, “Kid A” by Radiohead, “Glass Swords” by Rustie, and “LP” by Discovery. There are thousands of others but those come to mind readily.

EA: So each of your EP’s are written thematically does having a set concept make it easier or more difficult to write a whole EP? Do you prefer EPs over albums, and do you plan on releasing an album in the future?

MB: It makes it so much easier. It cuts the work out for me. I plan to release two full length albums at the bare minimum in 2015. TRIOS should be done within a month or two, the only hold up is gathering money for CDs and mastering.

EA: You’ve just released your latest “Glazer EP,” and described it as basically taking the mindset of sugar coating and sweetening the less than desirable current life situations. 
MB: It’s a breakup record. My girlfriend and I broke up in Spring 2014 in a really painful way and my creative process was shot for a few months. I risked falling into a depressive state, but with the help of some amazing friends and family I was able to convert that energy into an EP. Glazer was never an intended release, but I felt the need to put something out because it had been a year since Wavey Daze, and the recent heartbreak created a breeding ground for songwriting.

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