SXSW Artist Profile: Miniature Tigers

We had so much fun at SXSW we’re still catching up! One act that had us dancing all night was synth-pop group Miniature Tigers at Karma Lounge for a fun, punchy dance party. Vocalist Charlie Brand’s singing falsetto is so different from his speaking voice (think a low hipster-chill, slightly gravelly voice with a bit of ‘50s-movie star twang) that it’s a bit jarring, but it perfectly suited the shimmering keys and the ‘80s synth that underlined the beats.

Known for snappy, easy electro-dance numbers, they ran through popular songs like “Sex on the Regular” from 2012 album Mia Pharoh and generally breezed through their set, which also included a couple new songs from Cruel Runnings, which was released March 10.

However, there was an air of aggravation underlying the zippy performance; they seemed almost annoyed by the fans, which perhaps can be chalked up to the fact that it was their third show in a day, but that isn’t unusual by SXSW pacing standards. Even when Brand jumped off stage and danced through the crowd, which they absolutely ate up, there was a touch of aloofness that seemed out of place for the camaraderie between fans and bands one normally sees in Austin. After all, one of the biggest sells of SXSW is getting to see your favorite bands in tiny, hole-in-the-wall venues.

We caught up with Miniature Tigers the next day after they’d left the Converse Fader Fort, and there wasn’t a noticeable change in attitude.* “We just had an uncomfortable situation,” Brand said when asked how the Fader Fort was. “It wasn’t Converse. There was a gentleman dressed as Radon from Mortal Kombat, and me and Rick were laughing. We weren’t trying to be jerks or anything, but his friend came over and confronted us.”

So was that the weirdest thing that’s happened to them at SXSW? “I couldn’t get to my computer because Lady Gaga was blocking my computer,” said guitarist Algernon Quashie. “That was pretty weird.”

They released their fourth album, Cruel Runnings, just one day before their SXSW run. “We recorded it in Jamaica, and I don’t know…there’s this movie called Cool Runnings. It kind of represented the whole trip, the whole vibe of making the album.” They recorded it in two weeks, then jetted back to New York to mix and master it.

Near the end of our time together, we got interrupted for the third time by triple-booked media. Brand acknowledged the awkward situation with a laugh. “I don’t know how you’re going to write out this interview. Maybe just write: incoherent rambling.” The gents were more than coherent, though, and gave some good insight into life on the road.

“We love who we’re on tour with. We have options, like, ‘Hey, do you want tour with this band?’ And then sometimes you tour with a band that you don’t know, necessarily, but like, well, this band is doing really well and it would be good for the tour.” Do they stay in touch with their tour-mates? Yes and no. “Whenever you see them, it’s a nice feeling.”

And as for each other? I noted that they were all in polka dots the night before. “Maybe it’s subconscious,” Brand joked. “You know, we’re starting to look alike. We even have each other’s hair cuts.”

What’s in store? Continuous improvement. “We’re definitely still learning about each other and the whole process,” concluded Brand.

*Later research turned up that Brand had a case of strep throat at the time of the performance and interview

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