Mikkel Hess is a New York-repping, Copenhagen-bred electronic pop savant, a gloriously bent one-man rave weaving through some lighthearted indie hopscotch. His project Hess Is More is much like kindred spirits Erlend Øye, SchneiderTM, and Kaada-—a cuddly mix of quirky electronics, haunted sounds and softly cooed melodies. Creation Keeps The Devil Away (Nublu), due October 11, is an expansive feast, like Arthur Russell dragged through the blippy poptronica ’00s-—and that feeling is especially present in “Burn,” which combines throbbing indie-punk basslines with a whimsical croon. Hess sings “You can burn our house down/As long as you let me know in time to get my stuff out,” a thoughtful statement that he says should “suggest a set of rules for operation in relationships of any kind.”
What inspired this song, musicially?
This one just literally fell into my head while walking over the Williamsburg Bridge. When I arrived at the studio I knew exactly how it would go; so I quickly recorded a sketch of drums, basslines and vocals. This doesn’t happen so often to me… This one was special, because it sort of all came at the same time… This demo for “Burn” was the first thing I showed to my studio partner, Rasmus Bille Bähncke, and he got hooked enough that we ended up producing the whole album together.
What inspired it lyrically?
A married couple I know had a spoken agreement very similar to the basic idea of “Burn.” In their version it was something like, “First call and tell me—then you can go ahead with it.” Of course on one level it makes no sense, but there is something interesting about the very straightforward way of dealing with trust. The making of the song was probably also stimulated by my fear of being roasted and of course by worry over my own pyromaniacal tendencies. Also, just now, I come to think of Ingmar Bergman’s movie Fanny and Alexander, and how scared I was as a kid by a particular scene. The kids and their mother escape the tyranny of the evil stepfather by burning down his house—with him inside it.
What can you tell me about the noises after the first chorus?
Fire is great. It looks great and it sounds great. When I was a kid, we would very often sit and stare into the bonfire. That was the number one trance of my childhood.
Have you ever had to deal with a house/apartment fire?
The most recent encounter with the fire department was when we shot a small video at our studios for the track “Creation Keeps the Devil Away.” We were using the smoke machine quite a bit, and all of a sudden the fire alarm went off. We were not exactly proud to see Broadway fill up with people leaving the offices in our building, and when the fire trucks started rolling in, we had some explaining to do. Really, really sorry guys!
What’s your favorite place to eat in New York?
Our studio partner Jacob Wildschiødtz, who creates the visual aspects of Hess Is More, also holds a lot of authority when it comes to food. That’s why we call him “Lunch Man.” One thing is certain—we go a lot to The Smile on Bond Street. It is close to the studio, and has sort of become our cantina since it opened. Also, they make really nice coffee.
Hess Is More plays Cameo Gallery on August 20.