The Mystic Underground are the latest electronic pop band to come out of the US following the success of acts like Fischerspooner and The Faint. Strangely enough vocalist Vladamir Valette started off in Coffee Houses singing acappella versions of Blur's "She's So High" to bemused folk musicians, but when he hooked up with Benedetto Socci they found a love of the same music and formed The Mystic Underground.

Q: Over here in the UK we've had various media tags throughout the years from the simplistic Synthpop to tags like Romo (Orlando / Sexus / Viva etc) or Electroclash (Fischerspooner, Tiga and Zytherus etc). How would you describe your sound to our readers over here in the UK?
A: It's sometimes hard for us to describe our sound because there are so many ways to answer that. I guess we are a reflection of whatever music we were listening to reflected through how we see ourselves playing it now. Some would call it synthpop but we draw from so many areas that we feel that is a limiting sort of tag. We're both music fanatics so we can't help but feel the need to throw everything into the mix when we write songs. The best way I can describe what we do is write songs utilizing keyboards naturally so that one day we can play them on keyboards and stuff while the next day, strip it down and play it acoustic and then rock out the next day. So to answer the question, we are simply an electronic pop band.

Q: The whole Synthpop scene seems to be a very lonely place with years in the shadows before you find the right musical partner. Its kind of at odds with the whole band mentality of gang in a sense. Did you feel alone (in the musical sense) until you met Benedetto?
A: It sure seems that way, doesn't it?  Before I met Ben, I knew that my future lay in music and it was only a matter of time before I found myself immersed in the opportunity to do something great. Before Ben, I was writing songs in a book and taking them out every Wednesday night at a local coffeehouse called Cappuccino Heaven (RIP) and singing these songs a cappella to a throng of folk musicians and their friends. Imagine me a 20 year old desperate kid singing Blur's "She's So High" a cappella to people who were waiting to hear acoustic folk. Hysterical! Luckily enough though, I would eventually meet Ben in November of 1998 and we immedicately clicked and we've been together since. Being in TMU has honestly felt like a marriage of sorts in that we are always together, we know what the other is thinking and we always have the same focus in terms of what we have to do to get to where we want to be. That is important, I think.

Q: Obviously the whole New York scene had an influence on you, but the two of you must bring different cultural influences into the melting pop with surnames like Socci and Valette?
A: I think that with NYC being the wealthiest place on Earth in terms of the diversity that is present, we are just honoured that we have the opportunity to add a little spice into the great "melting pot".  NYC is a great place to be and it is really exciting to see that it is getting some attention again musically with bands like Soviet, the Strokes, A.R.E. Weapons and such. Our aim is to be the next of those bands to show the world that NYC is truly a haven for great and influential music.

Q: You're currently working on an album, but the most current release was "The Wanderers" EP. Would you like to tell the readers a little about it? Lyrical themes and ideas etc
A: The Wanderers was a song that I had written back when I was a sophomore in high school so I guess about '93. It's one of those songs that we just had to record because it touched on so many different emotions for us as well as people who had heard it live. The other tracks on the EP, Oxygen and It Always Rains On Wednesday were two of our earlist songs as a band but we still had a certain "crush" on them so we worked on them till we came up with something that we liked better. I guess lyrically the songs on the EP all share a certain sense of uncertainty within the characters about themselves and the starte they find themselves in. Are they good enough for someone? When loneliness becomes so suffocating that you feel worthless and immobile. How it feels to be away from home for so long, does it change you and how?

Q: Just listening to the EP there's a real range from pure pop to darker landscapes. What direction is the album taking and is there really one idea the record is trying convey? Any ideas for the title yet?
A: It's weird because we see ourselves as a pop band but not in the contrived sense. We want to write songs that mean something, that make people sit there and wonder, "what the hell was he talking about?" and make people gain appreciation for everything that is displayed in the songs like the music, the words, the vocals... you know the whole package. With our music, I guess you could say that we try to get the listener to see different aspects of life through various lenses.  Life is full of dualities, contradictions, misunderstandings and violent mood swings but there is always within every individual some commonality, some central running theme and that's what we are about. Exploring those timbres and colours of life and the people who go through it. With that said, our debut album is going to be a hodge-podge of styles, moods, and persepctives. Some of it may make you cry, some make you smile, there will probably be one on there that will piss you off but during the listen, you'll be bopping your head feeling something and that is the purpose behind the band. Unfortunately, though, no idea on a title, we'll probably come up with something when the album is done. How does "Subject to Nicotine Stains" grab you?

Q: The Faint and Fischerspooner seem to be making an impact over here in the UK and I know you get a lot of airplay in Europe. When do you think a UK / European tour will be on the table?
A: We're getting airplay in Europa? Wow, that is news, very good news! That is definitely a bonus for us as we both love the music coming across the Atlantic. Ben is into a lot of German techno while I am THE Anglophile. My fave band all time are the almighty Smiths with Morrissey and David Bowie being musical deities. It's definitely cool to see the Faint getting some press because they are ab fab! Not into Fischerspooner, but they have definitely got something going on over in the UK which is only good for bands like us who hope to squeeze in and throw a spanner in the works! As far as UK/European touring goes, you wouldn't have to ask us twice, all we need is a place to stay and money for cds and we are there but hopefully when this album comes out and we get some distribution over in your neck of the woods and we'll be there faster than you can say "Pulp"!

"The Wanderer" Ep is out now
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