Mild Orange On “Looking For Space”

Mild Orange have released their third studio album Looking For Space via AWAL – a groovy collection of melting melodies that features the already released What’s Your Fire?, This Kinda Day, The Time Of Our Lives and Oh Yeah. Mild Orange will celebrate the album release by kicking off their Looking For Space world tour and playing two sold out shows in London. This show will be an extra special one, as this will be the place the band will now call home and will be used as an anchor for their remaining shows around the world.

Looking For Space is the band’s most personal record to date and after spending two albums carefully organising the framed photos and applying an even layer of paint, Mild Orange felt the urge to tear apart the four walls that defined their bedroom pop sound, capturing the wilderness that lay beyond. Mehrt, Jah, Barry and Jack answer a few questions about the album for Hi Fi Way.

Congratulations on the album, was there a sense of relief and satisfaction getting the album done given how hard the last 18 months have been?
Mehrt: Thank you! Yeah, big time relief. Being able to pull such an ambitious project together in these times has been satisfying. There were certainly some challenges along the way but you got to carry on.

Jah: Cheers! There’s always a sense of relief with finally getting an album out. It never quite feels finished until it’s actually out of our hands and into those of the public.

Barry: Thank you! Compiling this project has taken us all over New Zealand during the recording process. Once all the tracks were down there was some amazing mahi by Mehrt, helped by the wizard Paddy Hill. Very stoked and excited for it to be done and going out to the world.

Jack: Cheers – Big satisfaction. Sounding good!

What was the biggest challenge you faced getting the album done?
Mehrt: Production and mixing. Some tracks required more work than others, and the ones that did really tested my patience and belief that the song vision could come together. A lot of listening, tweaking, long mixing sessions, and redoing things in order to get them sitting right. But the result always came on time. Thank you Paddy Hill for the immense effort and help during those challenges.

Jah: In the earlier stages of this album none of us lived in the same town. Having that geographical barrier is usually fine when we can travel freely, but having the uncertainty of Covid looming over us certainly made it a bit more difficult to plan writing/recording retreats. We got there in the end and it was all the more rewarding because of this process.

Barry: For me personally, it was knowing when to and not to play. The nature of the recording sessions meant that some songs were brought to the band almost finished, some were created organically in the moment. As a bass player I’m always conscious to not over play. So yeah figuring all that out took a while.

Jack: Yeah what Jah said. Some of the drum parts were trickier to get down than others too, especially on the songs that had been recorded in multiple locations after we’d been apart for periods of time. I usually get most of my drum takes on the first go, but it can get difficult when that recording moment is a while after you’d come up with the part and then you start getting into the second, third takes etc.

What did you think when you played the finished version for the first time?
Mehrt: This album slaps. All the life put into this was worth it.

Jah: Damn, this is my favourite MO record to date.

Barry: Super stoked and excited for others to hear!

Jack: Ooosh.

Is it hard to listen to your work as a fan without thinking what you could change?
Mehrt: I sometimes (rarely) get bugged by a mix decision sometimes and wish I’d changed it while I could. Other than that I love trying to listen like a fan would hear it. It’s different hearing it once you know other people can hear it too.

Jah: I try not to think like that, because unless we eventually wanted to really reopen a song and give it another crack, there’s little to be gained from having that perspective. Having said that, I sometimes cringe a little at the amount of reverb on my guitar on the first album hahaha.

Barry: Yeah kind of I suppose. There are a few songs off the first two albums where my bass lines have progressed from the recording when I play them live. The nature of it is that we’re all progressing as musicians, and the recording is merely capturing us at a point in time.

What is the story behind What’s Your Fire?
Mehrt: It was the first song we wrote and recorded together on the album. Barry’s parents kindly let us take over their family home in Bannockburn, and turn the living room into a recording studio. It really just summoned itself from the strange energy that lay in 2020. We played it live a lot as an encore before the recording was completed. It was always that one song that fans would come up to us after the show and be like “epic set but WHAT WAS THAT SONG!”. We knew we had to honour that energy in the recording that was felt when playing it live.

Sonically how would you describe this album?
Mehrt: I think of it like a wee companion to life. At times it’ll feel like you’re in the great big open, confidently free, ready to bring on life. Other times you’ll feel the lows as darkness approaches, but a light always remains, and it grows and grows with warmth. You’ll find new textures upon each listen, and depending on where you’re at physically and emotionally in different points in your life it’ll hit in new ways.

Jah: To me this album is best paired with a journey. My favourite time to listen to it is on a road trip or going for a run. Anything involved with travelling from A to B.

Were there any significant influences for this project?
Mehrt: Life. Spaces. Aotearoa. Live music. Family and friends. Our fans and mates around the world.

Barry: This album was recorded all over Aotearoa, so each space had its natural influence.

Jack: Westport (my hometown).

Is it exciting and scary at the same time locking in international tour dates?
Mehrt: Excited. There’s the uncertainty but if you don’t try you don’t know. Super excited for an adventure!

Jah: I think where things are at, there’s only so long you can hold off booking in shows. We took a couple of years off from international touring but are so hungry to be back! It is scary but overall exciting and well worth the risk.

Barry: Very exciting indeed! Also very tricky time to be travelling internationally. We are very grateful that we can do so.

Are you feeling optimistic about touring around Australia this year?
Mehrt: Very. It’s a top priority for us to finally see you!

Jah: 100%. We can’t wait to get across the ditch.

Barry: We’ve been trying to tour Australia for ages now. Certainly on the top of our list!

Jack: Yep. Very keen to get to Aus.

What’s next for Mild Orange?
Mehrt: More living. More music. More touring. More fun video projects.

Jah: A new and exciting overseas chapter. We’re relocating to London shortly so hopefully that results in plenty more Northern Hemisphere shows. We can also fulfill our dreams of going on some recording retreats across Europe!

Jack: Becoming football fans in London.

Interview By Rob Lyon

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