The new household name of indie discopop has arrived: Son Mieux interviewed

There’s a new household name in the indie discopop scene! Put Dutch seven-piece Son Mieux on your mind because something big is about to happen.

After their successful debut EP Vices Versa in 2016, the band worked their way up the ladder in the Dutch scene gaining a reputation for being a wild and energetic live act, and their 2019 electropop-oozing debut album Faire De Son Mieux pushed the boundaries even further.

While the pandemic still plagued the world the band worked on their second album, The Mustard Seed, and released it in December last year, and everything was set for their first big festival summer crowned by a lifelong dream: to play the main stage at Pinkpop Festival on home turf.

But before they even started to plan for their festival journey everything changed. The band won an Edison, a Dutch Grammy, for Best Rock album at the beginning of April, thus pulling in wider attention. As if it wasn’t enough, after the release of their latest single “Multicolor” in April, they were frequently played on Dutch radio, and just like that they had their first big commercial hit song. Today, “Multicolor” has received more than eleven million streams on Spotify, and the future lies open for an international breakthrough.

Just after the band had finished off an amazing afternoon show at Molotow during Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, we sat down with frontman and founder Camiel Meiresonne and violinist Maud Akkermans and chat about their successful year so far, how they tapped into the disco vibe, and about nurturing a dream to play a sold-out Malieveld in hometown Den Haag within the next five years.

The year the world heard about Son Mieux

The last year must have been an amazing journey for you. You have built up massive fan support at home, in the Netherlands, and in April you won an Edison, a Dutch Grammy, for your latest album The Mustard Seed. On top of that, your latest single “Multicolor” is your most streamed song on Spotify ever and has more than ten million streams as we speak. At the moment, it seems like you’re unstoppable. Is this the year when Son Mieux is taking off internationally?
(laugh) Things start to happen now, right? But internationally, probably not yet. It feels like we’re about to begin to put ourselves out there for an international audience, it’s just about to start. But in Holland, we’re definitely established and people know who we are. We played the main stage at Pinkpop Festival a few months ago and that was a very important moment for us, to see our fans and to see how many they are, but most of all to have achieved the dream to play at Pinkpop.

But it has been a very long road to building up to where we are today. We’ve taken it step by step and never really felt that we had to rush anything. And we’re happy that things start to happen right now after “Multicolor” when everything feels really good in the band. It all happened at the same time as we set off for our first big festival season; the success of “Multicolor” happened at the right time for us when we had everything planned. Let’s say that the stars are aligned (laugh).

Just by looking at the number of streams this year, the interest in the band has really taken off. Did the Edison Award open up doors that made you reach out to a new audience?
Not necessarily the Edison, many pieces happened to fall into place at the right time. Before the Edison and “Multicolor”, we had built up a reputation for being an intense live act and that gave us lots of attention in Holland, and we were selling out smaller venues way before the award, but we didn’t get that much attention from radio and that’s important if you want a bigger breakthrough. But when you combine that reputation with lots of airplay, just like what happened with “Multicolor”, our first big radio hit, it opened up for wider attention and we’ve seen more people turning up at the venues after it.

It’s kind of fun to watch the audience at shows and see what people we recognize from previous shows, and the part of the audience that returns is getting smaller. Not that our old fans stop coming out but because many new people turn up at the shows. We pull in bigger audiences today.

This year has been crazy so far and we’re just thrilled to see where it will end up.

But you play a few showcase festivals like Reeperbahn Festival to reach outside Holland and get international exposure. I remember an interview we did with Dutch singer-songwriter Blaudzun a few years ago and he told us he has to work harder to get international attention because Holland is a small music country. If he would’ve been from the UK, he claimed it would’ve been easier. Is it harder to come from a smaller music country?
He may have a point but if you’re from London there are at least forty other bands doing the same thing as you. That’s tough competition. Blaudzun is kind of unique in what he’s doing in Holland but there are probably forty bands in London doing the same music as him, but you probably haven’t heard about them because they never made it through the buzz.

But if you get picked up by radio or a big label in the UK or America, the step to reach a bigger crowd is a lot shorter. But to do that you need to stand out among lots of bands before it may happen. We’re kind of happy with how it has worked out for us so far.

“Disco was the genre that all of us tapped into”

Behind the success of the band lurks a ‘natural’ change in how to write music. Son Mieux’s debut EP was a one-man laptop job created in Meiresonne’s living room, but along the way, the band evolved into a disco-loving seven-piece with a clear goal: to write and record their music live.

Although the pandemic changed their plans and the album was once again recorded in Meiresonne’s home, the band tried hard to come together as much as possible to record music live. And the first song recorded and released as the band wanted it to happen was “Multicolor”. If that’s what comes out of their first ever live recording, what can we expect in the future?

When I listen to your first singles, like “Even” or “Easy”, it’s a completely different vibe than today. How did the discopop influences on “Multicolor” come about?
It happened because we changed how we write our music. The first EP was recorded in my [Camiel] bedroom, just me and a laptop, but over time we have evolved and expanded to become a seven-piece band, and disco was the genre that all of us tapped into. That’s what we play at home, on parties or when we’re in the van (laugh).

That sort of reminds me of how Daft Punk did it on their last album where they left their electronic sound and picked up real instruments. Was it something you always wanted to do as well, to get away from the laptop-based one-man productions, recorded in the living room?
Most definitely, but it wasn’t about the sound, it was more about doing something together as a band and playing and recording music live.

To have the opportunity to write with just a laptop and record wherever you are is just amazing. You can record music on your old fucking MacBook without having a label or any money (laugh) but there’s something missing. We felt like we were done and had moved on from our first record already when we started touring it. When we started writing our second album it was important for us to make a change and feed off the live energy we have on stage and put it on record, and it ended up sounding more organic.

The funny thing is that although we wanted to do all that with The Mustard Seed we couldn’t because of covid, and we ended up doing a big part of it in my living room, again but with the difference that we tried really hard to get together in between to play the songs together when it was possible. “Multicolor” was actually the first time we got together in the same room and played and recorded a song live. Ninety percent of that song is a live recording. And that was our goal, to start recording songs live after the pandemic. Apparently, it turned out really well (laugh).

Obviously, you have built up momentum in the last year and “Multicolor” pushes the boundaries further. Does it also mean that you work on something new to take advantage of the attention you’ve got in the last months and try to get another single on the radio?
There’s no album or EP on the way right now because we’re in the process of finding out how we want to sound more exactly and what the best way is to work in the band. At the moment we’re writing songs and releasing those we feel good about.

When we did The Mustard Seed we had the idea to only release singles again, just like we did when we started. But then the album created itself because we suddenly had twenty songs and sorted out ten which felt like an album, and we happened to release it. So for us, albums have to be created by themselves just like The Mustard Seed, so we have to wait and see what happens.

I know you have a few international dates this fall and will be back in Hamburg later. But isn’t it a bit frustrating to have reached the big venues on home turf and embark on a German tour where you have to restart the process of building up an audience again?
Not at all. Of course, it will be a lot of hard work but we’re doing it at the right time. It’s not that long ago we played smaller venues in Holland, it changed quite recently, and it’s good to do it now when we still have it fresh in mind how we did it at home.

And small gigs are fun. Playing at Pinkpop was insane because we fulfilled a lifelong dream to play there, and to do it in front of that many people was too good to be true. But doing these small intimate shows when you can look people in the eye is something very special as well. If we ever come to a point in our career where we feel like we’re losing contact with the audience because we don’t do these intimate shows anymore, we need to take a step back.

With all the hype around you right now it’s bound for something to happen soon. Where on the international scene do you want the band to be in five years?
We have this big field in our city [Den Haag] called Malieveld where some of the major bands have played, like Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones, and that’s our biggest goal as well because it’s very nostalgic for us. And abroad; if we get big enough to play a bit bigger venues than we do in October and do it twice a year it would be enough for us. Then we can keep this machine running for a long time.


Photos by Julia Schwendner
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About J.N.

Music researcher with an unhealthy passion for music and music festivals. Former studio owner, semi-functional drummer and with a fairly good collection of old analogue synthesizers from the 70's. Indie rock, post rock, electronic/industrial and drum & bass (kind of a mix, yeah?) are usual stuff in my playlists but everything that sounds good will fit in.