Portland’s Minden is a saccharine pop powerhouse. The five-piece pulls influence from across the board, but their output is pretty firmly rooted in R&B/Funk-influenced pop, generally with a subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) sexuality that exudes from the lyrics, melody and groove as well as through the glamour of their live performance. Their latest release, Sweet, Simple Things, was released on Hit City USA and then re-released by a distributor in Japan on a special pressing with bonus tracks.
On Thursday, April 27 Minden will headline a showcase at Holocene joined by Seattle’s darling pop duo Sisters and Portland’s psychedelic future soul outfit PWRHAUS. Ahead of that show, we spoke with Minden’s frontman Casey Burge about the band’s transition from Kansas City to Portland five years ago, some of his favorite local artists and songwriters, some of his musical influences, new material in the works, and more. Read it below!
Minden is originally from Kansas City. What drew you to Portland 5 years ago?
True. We showed up May of 2012 after we’d been in KCMO for a couple years. I was looking for a change of scenery and really encouraged everyone to make the leap together. It was Lia (of Minden, No Lala & Lola Buzzkill) who was whispering in my ear about PDX. She’d been here for two years already.
Have you noticed any consistencies or drastic changes in the city’s musical landscape in your time here? Who are some of your favorite local artists?
Sure. There’s been a consistent presence of excellent songwriters particularly. Also, a healthy variety of genres. Much more so than some bigger, more lauded cities’ scenes, from my experience. Some of my personal favorites are Reptaliens, &&&, Sama Dams, Máscaras, Wave Action & Vexations. There are a bunch more, of course. Boone is probably my #1. Lia is one of the most talented songwriters and singers I know. I’m desperately hoping she’ll record a whole album of her songs.
Your sound has remained rooted in funk/R&B-driven pop, from 2012’s Exotic Cakes to last summer’s Sweet, Simple Things. Can you speak to some of your musical influences?
I fetishize the modern pop song format. So, where ever it’s found, I’m usually fascinated at the very least. Genre non-prohibitive. As a group, our influences vary wildly. Personally, mine are divided between stuff like Bob James, Azymuth, the Beatles and classic C&W with George Jones being my absolute tops. I’m influenced by any hit song, really.
You’ve recorded in some of the city’s finest studios, from Jackpot to Flora to Isaac Brock’s Ice Cream Party Studio. Do you have a favorite? Any other spaces you’d like to work in or producers you’d like to work with?
All is well. We certainly feel very fortunate to have been able to record in each of those studios. For me, working at home is the most fulfilling, though it might not sound even close to as good as a studio full of great gear with a professional at the mixing board. At home we have the most luxurious perk: plenty of time.
Outside of Minden, Casey, you also play in a handful of other local groups (No Lala, Bryson Cone, Boone Howard). How do you find balance in keeping focused on your main project while still finding time to rehearse and perform with the other groups?
I’m no longer playing with Bryson, just a major fan of who he is and what he does. Always have been! Between Minden, No Lala, playing with Boone and my own solo stuff, the days & nights fill up. The focus is always roaming with Minden remaining the main priority and investment. My whole life is organized and oriented around making music. It’s the other important things I have trouble finding time for that sometimes become neglected.
You’re currently working on new Minden material. Can you give us that low-low on what we might expect to hear and when that might be?
Yes! A new record is in the works and it’s shaping up real nice. Working with our dear friend Alexander on drums is refreshing. He’s bringing a whole new range of possibilities. Anyway, it’s a strong batch of songs. I’m excited, eager and a bit nervous to share them. Soon.