Finding a perfect musical collaborator is often a very tough undertaking. Other times, a happy accidental meeting can lead to years of creating beautiful music together. Our recent discovery of The Mystic Underground is a result of musical fate taking over for Benedetto Socci and Vladimir Valette. We had the chance to chat with the pair about how it all came together, their new single ‘Athletes’ and where they go from here. Enjoy:
Where did the name The Mystic Underground come from?
Haha! I wish I had a salacious story to share as to the origin of the name but The Mystic Underground is essentially a happy compromise between two really bad propositions that Ben and I presented to each other one night. We had decided that we were going to make a serious go of it and realized our current name The Vanishing Point was both bad and already in use. After a couple of teas, we wrote our ideas down on a piece of paper. I think we had about ten ideas each that we whittled down to one each. Ben’s idea was Mystic Proportions or something like that while mine was The Vanishing Underground Scene. As you can see, I have a certain love of long and pretentious nomenclature. Anyway, I hated Ben’s idea and Ben sadly wasn’t too fond of mine and I thought a happy medium would be combine the names and just like that, The Mystic Underground was born!
How would you describe your sound?
I always say our sound is the happy accident one stumbles into when taking bits of inspiration from influences of the past and in an effort to surpass them, you fall forward into some new and exciting concoction. Simply put, we write indie electronic pop music for people who like their pop music with an edge, a sense of purpose and at times with tongue planted firmly in cheek. We’re willing to write about situations that most would shy away from or think wouldn’t work within the framework of an accessible tune. Maybe I grew up listening too much Bowie and Morrissey than should be allowed for a young lad from the outskirts of New York City.
How did you two get together to form this project?
It was a long, long time ago in a strange land where I was killing time in a college library with my friend Gigi who at the time had a job working after school. I don’t remember what had prompted the conversation but I do recall bitching about how difficult it was to find collaborators to put together a group of young men to take over the planet and restore the legitimacy of decent music for all. Gigi saved me from yet another disappointment by telling me she knew someone who just so happened to be a fan of writing music for kicks and also had a set-up in his mother’s house to produce his tunes. My ears naturally perked up, my interest was piqued and I requested a meet.
A week later, Ben and I met face to face in the library and we seemed to click. As much as two strangers who barely said more than ‘So…you write music with synths?’ and ‘Wanna write a song?’ could click. Luckily, after a couple of sessions, we already had three songs and we were on our way.
What bands have had the biggest influence on Mystic Underground?
It’s rather cliche but there really are too many to list. I grew up as a post-punk, techno and hip-hop fan while Ben was into metal and hip-hop. I suppose my two biggest influences would be David Bowie and the Smiths but like I said, there’s a litany of artists that are not too far behind in my personal pantheon of influences. I’m sure Ben would tell you his biggest influences growing up were bands like Metallica, Rush and the Smashing Pumpkins. That said, I do take credit for getting him into Erasure, the Presets and Saint Etienne.
How does a song come together for the group?
A song usually comes about when Ben writes a piece of music and sends it to me via email. I receive it and listen to it over and over, humming a melody to myself with the hopes of turning this track into an actual song. It can be something as simple as a line that comes to me depending on the mood the track evokes. Once I have that, I scribble some words together to form a general outline until the words start to make sense and a lyric is completed. The tough part is ensuring the lyrics and melody I concocted actually fit the song. I’m not afraid to write really sardonic and downright melancholy lyrics to a song written in a major key. There’s no fun in doing the expected. It’s boring and if I’m honest, I find that to be our trademark as a band. Writing songs that are somewhat off-kilter but still work.
Tell us about your latest track “Athletes”
‘Athletes’ is one of those rare songs where things came together pretty seamlessly. It’s also a song that came to be in the way that I mentioned earlier with the basis being centered around one or two lines. In this case, it’s the first two lines of the chorus that go ‘under the clearest moon, she said that he should wait but she was outvoted two to one’. Coupled with the music evoking a certain rambunctious vibe, it turned into a sort of anthem for disaffected youth crumbling under the brutal weight of peer pressure and the ramifications for choosing a different path.
What do you hope listeners get from your music?
I would say that the hope is for listeners to feel something when they hear a Mystic Underground song. We thrive on emotion and tapping into the wall that is the human condition and we want anyone who listens to establish an honest and reciprocal connection with the songs. Any band worth their salt did so by successfully doing it. The aim is always to have you dance while thinking to yourself, ‘did they really just say that?’
We seriously want to be your new favourite band and the way to do that is to write music for your heart and your feet.
What is next in the plans for The Mystic Underground?
After ‘Athletes’, we hope to have another single and video to share with everyone. We are also currently recording songs that will make up a new record featuring our best songs to date. Granted, it’s pretty much standard fare for every band to say that their newest offerings are their best to date but in our case, we sincerely mean it. We also hope that you’ll agree but in the meantime, watch for more coming soon.
Follow them on Facebook as well.