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MINKS Mastermind Sonny Kilfoyle Talks Captured Tracks, Likens New Album ‘Tides End’ to ‘Cooler’ Jimmy Buffet Record

Minks Sonny Kilfoyle
DM Harrington

Those who figure Captured Tracks for a label solely devoted to murky-sounding noise-pop records ought to hit up this weekend’s CT5 festival. The two-day event marks the Brooklyn imprint’s fifth anniversary, and the lineup speaks to the diversity founder and head honcho Mike Sniper has cultivated over the last half-decade. Among those taking the stage at the Wick on Saturday, Aug. 31, is Sonny Kilfoyle, aka MINKS.

MINKS’ recently released sophomore album, ‘Tides End,’ is anything but dark and hazy. Inspired by a season on the East End of Long Island, where Kilfoyle decamped to battle writer’s block and take a break from New York City, it’s a set of achingly pretty synth-pop tunes just right for the last days of summer.

Having already spoken with Sniper and one of his latest signings, reunited shoegaze heroes Medicine, Diffuser.fm shot Kilfyole a list of email questions about his new music and relationship with his label. The Boston native explained how ‘Tides End’ differs from his rougher, noisier debut, ‘By the Hedge,’ and shared his thoughts on what makes Captured Tracks great.

What brought you to Captured Tracks? Were you a fan of the label before releasing ‘By the Hedge?

Mike Sniper brought MINKS to Captured Tracks. He had heard some demos that I had just recorded and asked if he could put out the record. I was a fan of Captured Tracks but only really knew about [Sniper's] Blank Dogs, so at first, I think i was a fan of the band before the label.

The label is known for its visual aesthetic — did you grow up collecting records and obsessing over such things?

I was obsessed with collecting records from about the age of 14 on. First, it was punk and hardcore records. I have an uncle who is a big collector, too, and I remember one Christmas when he gave me the first SOA 7-inch on Dischord. I thought it was the holy grail. After that, I was really into U.K. imports and getting  singles that weren’t available in the U.S. just yet. For a short time, there was an Other Music shop in Harvard Square, and I would get a lot of hard to find minimal techno records from Germany. One night they packed up in the night and moved out of Boston, and it sucked.

Sonically, the first album is arguably more in line with what people expect from CT, even though the label hardly has a set sound. When you were making ‘Hedge,’ were you thinking of how it might fit into the overall discography?

No, definitely not. I was in a weird state of mind when I made that record. I actually think that it’s darker than a lot of what was coming out on Captured Tracks at the time. If you compare that record to the other records that came out in the same year, I think you’ll realize it’s actually very different. To me it seems inspired by some of the music on the label 4AD.

‘Tides End’ has a much sunnier, dancier, more synth-driven sound. Were you pretty much free to do whatever you wanted? Did you feel the need to tell the label in advance you’d be making a different type of record? We’re guessing not.

No, I didn’t tell the label it was going to be different, and I wasn’t really interested in making a ‘By the Hedge’ revisited. How boring that would be. It sounds much different because lately I’ve been inspired by different things, and wanted to explore different sounds. I feel that you always need to draw from the present no matter how different a turn it takes you. Once you make something you can never go back to it. It documents a period in time personally and musically, and you always have to stay true to the present.

This might be the summer album of 2013 — at least for a certain subset of indie rock fans. Did you set out to create such a thing?

I set out to create an album that feels good to listen to. I wasn’t up to challenging a listener with an abstract piece of music. I’ve been there an done that a few times. Some people love it, but to the rest of the listeners, it’s not really fair. The snobs will always want you to be weird because it gives them an excuse to be pretentious, but I just can’t subscribe to that. I moved to a beach town and wanted to make an cooler version of a Jimmy Buffet record.

What’s your go-to summer music? Is there an album you always come back to?

Anything by the Zombies or the Kinks. If I had to pick one ultimate track that I come back to, it’s ‘Hold On’ by John Lennon‘s Plastic Ono Band.

If you had to join another CT band for a tour, which would it be?

If Cleaners From Venus count, then it would be them, hands down.

Will you stick with CT for future releases? Where do you see the label going?

I really like the people who work for the label, as well as the bands who release music under Captured Tracks. If we all see eye to eye, then I’m sure we’ll release music together. As far as where I see the label going? I just hope it continues to grow and release great music by great artists. They’ve really grown since the first MINKS 7-inch was released, and I’m happy to be a part of it.

Why do you think CT has struck such a chord with people?

Because they understand the concept of gravity.

Next: 10 Best Indie Labels of the Last Decade

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