Minke is an up-and-coming British singer-songwriter that released her somber EP The Tearoom earlier this month. We sat down with her to talk about her influences, the recording process for The Tearoom, and what she has going on for the rest of 2019.
BTS: Can you tell us how you got started making music?
Minke: It started with my dad, he used to play drums. For many years, I used to dance around in front of him, starting from the age of 3 maybe. I wanted to be like my dad because he was really cool because he was playing drums, so I started to thrash around on the drums when I was 6 or 7, to the annoyance of my mom. I think to distract me from the drums, she wanted me to play piano, and I started taking piano lessons which had a huge impact on me. The way I was trained really helped me learn melody and musicality. I picked up the guitar when I was 11 and I already had this rhythmic and melodic training. Then I became completely obsessed with music. My guitar teacher told me I should try writing songs, and I didn’t think I could because I couldn’t sing. He gave me this giant book of Bob Dylan lyrics and basically gave me a homework assignment to go home and try to write my own song. Even though I was so young, I realized that I was a teenager and I was going through a lot. I had all these feelings I could sing about, or I could sing about the guy I was in love with and feel better about it. When I realized that, it was game over and I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. I started playing shows when I was 16 or so, and then by the time I got out of school when I as 18, I was signed.
BTS: Who are some of your biggest influences?
Minke: All the stuff that my Dad used to listen to, which was mainly rock and roll and blues music. He used to drum along to Tom Petty, The Who, and all the classic rock bands. But he was also listening to Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix and they really struck a chord in me on the guitar side of things. I would just sit there for hours trying to learn the solos they played. When it comes to modern day music, I listen to everything. We live in such a privileged time where we can listen to anything. In general, I really just love all these women who are just kicking ass and making their art really individual to themselves and opening the door for other people like me. There’s a huge sense of that with artists like Lana Del Rey, Maggie Rogers, Robyn, there’s loads of them.
BTS: Can you tell us about your new EP The Tearoom.
Minke: It’s quite somber lyrically. I’ve been writing so many songs over the last few years, I never really realized that until I came across this set of songs and it just occurred to me that this body of songs was what I was supposed to release. It was a lot more sad then what I ever imagined my first EP would be. It was kind of a strange realization about myself since I wrote all of the songs. I was originally going to call it “The Tear Room” because it’s kind of a downer. I felt like that was too emo and literal, so I went with The Tearoom because like most people, I put humor behind anything that’s sad. Also, I’m a Brit and at the time I was reading this book about Japanese art philosophy about how art is in the imperfections. There was a period of time where I would come off stage after a performance and I’d just feel like shit because I thought that my performance or my music wasn’t good enough, but that book helped me realize the importance of imperfections in my art.
BTS: Would you say you’ve always been drawn to more emotional music?
Minke: Weirdly, yeah. Some of my favorite songs in the world are super sad. I think there’s a beauty to that level of vulnerability. Also, we’re all humans that are just trying to shuffle around on the planet and we’re all just trying to feel better all of the time. Sad music makes you feel better, it makes you feel less alone. I’m basically just an emo kid, it really stuck with me. I think it’s the most interesting to be the most scarily honest you can be. It feels uncomfortable as the artist, but it’s so valuable as the listener.
BTS: Can you tell us about the recording process for this EP?
Minke: It was done over a long period of time. We recorded in New York, London, in the countryside in England, in L.A., in all sorts of different studios, in bedrooms, in houses, in pool houses – in some of the most random places you can imagine. “Maybe 25” was recorded in a pool house in Beverly Hills, but in a deserted house. There was this dog that was terrifying and was always trolling around outside and we didn’t want it to bite us or attack us so we would only leave the studio when the dog wasn’t there. It was a case of balancing my life back home where I was working a normal job, to flying to New York for a month where my producer was. I would save up ideas for songs and I’d come out for two months where we’d finalize the ideas and put the songs together. I was only doing one or two trips like that a year, until “Gold Angel” was released and then everything kind of amplified. There was more opportunity, a bigger budget, and more time.
BTS: What was the hardest song to write on the EP?
Minke: “Bite The Bullet” for sure. It was the easiest, but the hardest in the sense that it’s the most emotional, most honest, most brutal and personal. Sometimes when I sing it I still get emotional. It came out very easily because it was a song that I needed to write, even though I didn’t realize I did at the time. I wrote it and everything kind of fell into place in a sense, the words were something I needed to hear. I wished I had written it before because it was so fitting for me and my life at the time. I felt a huge release, but it was also hard because it means so much.
BTS: All of the visuals that are paired with the EP fit the sound and vibe of the project perfectly – are visuals important to you as an artist?
Minke: They definitely are. It’s mainly based on the music. I do care about visuals, but I don’t ever overthink a visual. If it’s a press photo that feels like it will fit the project, then I’ll just use that. I’m not someone who needs to hire a graphic designer to get the most magical lines and spaces – I’m not that kind of visual artist. I totally believe in the feeling and the representation of the music.
BTS: What do you have going on the rest of the year?
Minke: We’re doing a European tour with X Ambassadors at the end of April, which is going to be insane. I met them when I was in my early 20s and watching them blow up has been so crazy. Watching their showmanship and watching Sam [Harris] run around the stage for an hour just singing in falsetto and playing 5 instruments, it’s so nuts and I’m always in awe. I’m excited to warm up that crowd for them. Then we have some videos and other stuff coming out in the next couple of months! There’s lots to come.
Stream Minke’s new EP The Tearoom below.