It’s not everyday that a music group is formed by a banker, an art gallery owner, and a metal sculptor. Yet, that’s exactly the makeup of New York indie electronic group Autograf, a trailblazing trio that’s redefining the way live music was meant to be enjoyed and experienced. The group, comprised of Mikul Wing, Jake Carpenter, and Louis Kha, met through friends and decided they wanted to shake up what it meant to combine music, art and fashion together, to create an immersive musical experience and put their own spin on the burgeoning electronic music scene.
I caught up with Mikul Wing, one-third of the group, ahead of their live show with DROELOE, Ramzoid, and Cofresi this upcoming Saturday night at Schimanski in Brooklyn. Read the full interview below.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
EB: I’m really excited about the tour – how’s it going so far?
MW: It’s good, we’ve had four shows so far, one of them, Seattle, was sold out, which is awesome. It was at a smaller venue called Neumos. I think it’s like a 700-person venue. The other three were really good as well.
(Editor’s note: Since our conversation, Autograf has played a total of twelve shows on the Caution: Live tour)
Tell me the story about how Autograf was formed. How did you guys come together?
MW: We met through the music industry and through art, I guess. We all were in former DJ groups, and we kind of wanted to do this music-meets-art thing when we first started Autograf. We felt as though at the time the visual side, the art side and the fashion side of music wasn’t there like it was in prior years, and we really wanted to get back to the roots that got us into music originally. We started Autograf as this concept party, almost. We had a party called Future Factory. The party was loosely based around Warhol’s factory, and the DJs were kind of on the floor. Above the stage we built all these crazy art installations that were interactive, built to walk around them, and photo booths. It’s just fun to create a bunch of art that people can interact with.
Both mine and Jake’s background, we both started in art. Jake’s background is in metal sculpture and welding. I used to run an art gallery in Chicago, and did a lot of street art and design, advertising design and things of that nature. So it was definitely something that was in our wheelhouse.
Living in New York, you’ve got a lot of opportunity to see and be inspired by art. What’s the last gallery or art show you went to?
MW: I actually helped co-open a gallery in Bangkok and I was just out there, not even a month ago. It was based around that first party – it was Future Factory Bangkok. We were also just down in Miami for Art Basel, there was some amazing stuff in that as well.
According to Spotify, New York City is your third most listened to location for your music. The first two are Mexico City and LA. How many times have you performed here in New York?
MW: We’ve done several shows here. We did Terminal 5 last time, in Manhattan. We’re about to do Schimanski in Brooklyn this time around. Prior to that we got a chance to do Webster Hall, before they closed down. New York’s always been good to us.
On the last tour, [Terminal 5] was one of the highlight shows, I would say. We were playing, and we have this drum. The top of it broke and Jake threw it out into the audience, and someone caught it, which was pretty cool. Glad it didn’t hit anyone. But yeah, someone got a djembe drum out of that.
EB: What got you sort of into producing in the first place with music?
MW: I owned an art gallery in Chicago, and we would throw parties in the basement of the gallery. I wasn’t DJing at the time or anything, but people told me I should. I had some roommates who were DJs who taught me how to DJ, and I kind of got into it and started playing these art gallery parties that we were throwing below the actual art gallery. Those kind of grew, and we had acts like Justice and Crystal Castles back in the day, doing these afterparties down there that were really fun. From there I kept going and formed a couple different groups, and finally Autograf, and this has taken off for us.
When you were growing up, did you listen to any artists that had any influence on your musical style now?
MW: I was into the whole indie-electro era. Groups like The Faint and Felix Da Housecat, those kind of acts had a really big influence on me.
Who have you been listening to lately that you’ve been playing on repeat or listening to a lot?
MW: Oh man, there’s so many good acts. I don’t wanna say someone and miss some people. Definitely Ramzoid, I think the stuff he’s doing is amazing. So I would say check him out right now. Chet Porter is pretty awesome – we had him on our last tour. The guys from Win and Woo, definitely check them out as well.
EB: The show comes to Brooklyn on the 17th. Do you want to give our readers a shout out on what to expect for the show?
MW: For this tour, it’s kind of a mix of that art background – we designed the whole stage setup for it, created brand new visuals, and it’s all based around this Caution: Live concept. I think a lot of influence was based around New York streets for this tour. A lot of construction that you see, and just the grittiness of the streets here, that was a big inspiration for the stage setup, so we decided to show that to people. There’s a lot of new music as well that we play on the tour, plenty of new tunes.
you can still purchase tickets for Saturday’s live show, which begins at 10PM and features supporting acts DROELOE, Ramzoid, and Cofresi.