Alongside Bloc Party’s Russell Lissack, Milena Mepris (MM) is singer & guitarist for Pin Me Down, an 80s/90s pop powered project (who for me at least, sound like a lady lead She Wants Revenge with their urgency and attitude) that’s been intermittently developing since late 2004. MM kindly took some time out to answer a fistful of questions for the Glasswerk faithful!
AS: Why the name?
MM: When we started collaborating, Russell was on tour for a year straight with Bloc Party, so in order to find time to talk about the songs and their parts, we were emailing back and forth to each other across the Atlantic… We’d have to schedule phone conversations too! One day, Russell was playing a gig in France or Germany…I can’t remember where exactly and I called him. He couldn’t pick up because he was in the middle of sound check and so he sent me a text back saying “Pin me down at 7” or something like that. A light came on in my brain when I read it and I knew
immediately that it was the perfect name for our band.
AS: Who would be your dream collaborator?
MM: Ooh good question. I’d love to work with Jonas Bjerre and the guys from Mew. Russell and I are huge Mew fans. I’d also love to work with Damon Albarn or Patti Smith in any capacity. I dream of writing the perfect pop song with Cyndi Lauper or Cathy Dennis too. I’d also love to get in the studio with Stuart Price or Alan Moulder.
AS: Where do you go when it all gets too much?
MM: I go to my backyard in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We have several trees, grass, a bit of space and some of the most adorable stray kitties live in several of the adjoining yards. I am a city girl through and through, so I’ve never had a backyard or a bit of grass to call my own. It’s really nice to be outside in your pajamas, drinking coffee, not worrying about anything.
AS: Is bedtime more half nine with a half read paper or more half four with fully red eyes?
MM: Unfortunately I’m more of a night owl. I like to get up around 11, which has its advantages and disadvantages… It’s not good when you have business with people in the UK or Europe as New York is hours behind. Russell tends to be an earlier-type person.
AS: What do you do in your recreational time?
MM: Well lately, I’ve been obsessed with writing rap lyrics with inside jokes that are probably humorous only to me. Collecting costumes and Bro-ing down with my Southern guy friends who are teaching me how American football works, which is very out of character for me because I’m a pretty girly girl and football is quite physical and aggressive. But I’m weird and I find it all very mathematical, strategic, and fascinating.
AS: What’s the last gig/concert you went to?
MM: The Mars Volta at least favorite venue ever in NY – Terminal B.
AS: What’s the best music video?
MM: I don’t think I could just pick one. I didn’t grow up with MTV, so I feel a bit uninformed in that area. I discovered all my favourite 90s grunge videos way after the fact – but they still left a lasting impression on me. ‘Heart Shaped Box’ by Nirvana, ‘Today’ by Smashing Pumpkins, ‘Jeremy’ by Pearl Jam, ‘Cannonball’ by the Breeders (who have finished recording a new LP that’s out in April folks, so watch this space or contact me for more…), and also ‘Parklife’ by Blur. More recently ‘Hey Ya’ by Outkast – it’s a classic and Andre is amazing. Russell would probably say ‘Take On Me’ by A-Ha.
AS: Do you believe in love at first sight?
MM: Yes, absolutely. Pin Me Down is a band of softies. We wear our hearts on our sleeves!
AS: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
MM: Anything and everything. I used to only write music about other people or dreams I’d had, but lately I’ve been writing from personal experience too, which is more direct and therapeutic and sometimes even allows you to get your revenge by immortalizing people in songs, tee hee! Russell will send me tracks which reference different aspects of his musical upbringing. We have a song that didn’t make our record called “Sleazy Boy” that has trance-like keyboards, which is probably a result of Russell’s days as a schoolboy going to raves.
AS: Were/are you aware of your escalating popularity?
MM: We get lots of cool notes from people that enjoy our music. It never fails to make me smile.
AS: Will your past come back to haunt you?
MM: Um yes, probably. I’ve had some adventures; done some scandalous things. Whatever you’ve heard about me and ****** isn’t true!
AS: Who is most influential on your sound?
MM: For Pin Me Down, I’d say the biggest influences are 80s pop stuff like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Prince, New Order and The Pretenders. Russell and I are also big advocates of structured songs and the craft involved in song-writing, so I listen to a lot of Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and more modern bands like Queens of the Stone-age and Radiohead for songwriting and lyrical inspiration.
AS: Whose the most likely to go solo or crazy?
MM: Well I guess that would most likely be me, because I already have a solo project going – my band Milena Mepris. I’m planning on recording my 2nd solo record later this year. Russell has been doing a lot of remixes on his own too though.
AS: Any choice epitaphs, famous last words or something you’d like to be remembered for?
MM: I hope to be remembered for writing some great songs. I’ve only just started though.
AS: When do you plan to take over the world?
MM: Starting this year, 2008!
AS: Did you have any heroes when you were a teenager?
MM: Yes. Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, Billy Corgan, Stephen Malkmus, Daniel Johnston, Polly Harvey and Trent Reznor. Angela Chase, Claire Danes’ character on the TV show ‘My So Called Life’ and Winona Ryder in Heathers, Edward Scissorhands, Mermaids, and Reality Bites too. I also thought Charles Dickens, JD Salinger, Iris Murdoch, Queen Elizabeth I and Bill Clinton were pretty top-notch!
AS: What do you think of the paparazzi?
MM: Don’t even get me started. I think that the paparazzi unfortunately perpetrate the myth that successful people in the performing arts deserve to exist in a higher/more elevated state over ‘regular’ people. Bullshit. Just because a person has a job as an actor or musician or whatever and can afford the latest fashions, cars or a boob job, doesn’t mean they’re superior to a working mother of 2. I think the paparazzi are invasive, counter-productive and waste a lot of people’s time and brain power. I hope in the next 10 years that pop culture will gravitate back toward what’s really important.
AS: What are you listening to right now?
MM: Lately I’ve been obsessed with Tegan and Sara, Metric’s first album ‘Old World Underground’, the new Duke Spirit album, Queens of the Stone-age, Kings of Leon’s ‘Because of the Times’, M.I.A.’s ‘Kala’ and Justice. Classic groups like The Band, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Fleetwood Mac too.
AS: Any message to any underachieving or odds facing musician out there?
MM: To quote Journey… “don’t stop believing”. Also, it’s vital to practice as much as possible so that you can be super tight on your instrument.
AS: Any upcoming music / bands worth keeping an eye on that are destined for greatness?
MM: My friend just played me this band out of London that was pretty cool called Robots in Disguise. They’re a bunch of girls making really crazy electronic music.
AS: Are you unlucky in love?
MM: Yes, Pin Me Down is simultaneously lucky and unlucky in love. It’s an interesting place to be.
AS: Best song, movie or LP ever?
MM: Russell’s favourite movie is either Back to the Future 2 or Goonies. I would say David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.
AS: What’s your secret vice, what are you a sucker for?
MM: Ooh another good question (thankyou v much!). I love watching figure skating and gymnastics on TV, but not doing them in real life. I secretly enjoy arena rock power ballads like ‘Cold as Ice’, ‘Living on a Prayer’ and ‘I Nearly Died in Your Arms Tonight’. Pop songs like No Doubt’s ‘Don’t Speak’ and Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ too. I also love the really raunchy Howard Stern show, Jack Black, Chris Rock and Will Farrell. When I’m down or feeling ill, any girly movie starring Reese Witherspoon or Kate Hudson makes me feel better, along with chocolate too! I also love to eat octopus and squid, which a lot of people think is disgusting. (Smugly) Good, more for me!
AS: Are you a good dancer?
MM: It depends on how you define dancing. Russell’s been known to bust a move on the dance floor.
AS: Where will you retire to when you're tired of comeback concerts?
MM: Ha! I like Spain and Italy but I’d also like to check out Australia, Thailand and Hawaii.
AS: How important are the charts?
MM: Not that important although we’d love to be in them.
AS: What era would you have been born in ideally?
MM: I think it would’ve been amazing to be a teen or young adult during the 60s. So many things were changing and there were actually new ideas, modern thought, new music, media, movies, clothes and drugs. My dad was part of the Black Panther movement and he has so many stories like the march on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a dream speech” or the time he was the infamous Altamont concert when there was a panic during the Rolling Stones’ set because someone took out a gun, fired, and killed someone near the stage. My dad always talks about mass panic! As a teenager, my mom saw Jimi Hendrix play at Café Wha? in Greenwich Village before he was known at all. She couldn’t believe it when he set his guitar on fire and played with his teeth.
AS: If you could save 1 thing in the world, what would it be?
AS: Have you goy anybody’s autograph?
MM: I had the pleasure of meeting Patti Smith a few years ago. We talked about her paintings and music. She gave me a book of her drawings afterward which she signed for me. I still can’t get over it. She was soooo incredible.
AS: Which fictional character would you most like to be?
MM: Elizabeth Bennet in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for her wit or Janie from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, for her passion, strength and spirit. Of course, being Hamlet would be pretty cool too.
AS: Thanks for your time you minx and the best of luck for your surely bright future!
Pin Me Down’s debut single ‘Cryptic’ is out now on Kitsune Maison 5 Golden Edition, with a 12” remix single of ‘Cryptic’ following it in Spring 2008.
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