I probably can’t tell you exactly what I was doing in my late teens (other than eating pizza for most meals at Uni and getting progressively heavier because of it), but it certainly was a different path to that of Henry Kohen. Dropping out of college at 17, Henry became the youngest artist to sign to mega label Sargent House under his monker Mylets, and he’s just this year released his official debut full length ‘Arizona’ to heaps of praise. This is how I first became aware of Mylets, the album having generated a real buzz on social media this past year, most of which came from his peers and contemporaries. The press weren’t far behind, with glowing reviews appearing everywhere you looked.
Making the move from Indiana, Henry now lives in Los Angeles at The Farm; a Sargent House operated studio and artist residence where he fine-tuned his latest release. As well as putting out Arizona, this year has also seen Mylets hitting the road across the UK and Europe with label mates And So I Watch You From Afar. It was the second night of this tour where I got the chance to see Mylets in the flesh, at Gorilla in Manchester. What he lacks in other people on stage, he makes up for in occupying as much stage space as possible with his vast array of pedals. A tremendous live show, his intricate guitar work and looping, as well as use of a drum machine and other effects, is a joy to watch and the crowd were enthusiastic with their praise. For a full review of that show, click the link here.
With a penchant for pedals, it should come as no surprise that Mylets will be playing this year’s ArcTanGent Festival. In what is becoming a bit of a yearly tradition for them, this year’s festival is boasting a seriously stacked line-up as it takes on its third year, with Mylets performing on Thursday night alongside the likes of Alpha Male Tea Party, Cleft, Mutiny On The Bounty and 65daysofstatic!
Now a few months removed from that fantastic evening at Gorilla in Manchester, Henry was kind enough to speak with Birthday Cake For Breakfast about time on the road with the boys from And So I Watch You From Afar, his latest record and exactly why an album by U2 means so much to him.
BCFB: I’ve read that you dropped out of college and became part of the Sargent House ‘Farm Family’ pretty much straight away. Was there a lot of thinking behind it, or did you just pack up and go?
Mylets: For me there was no thinking involved. The second I got the offer I was out of there mentally and then the semester ended and I left as soon as my belongings were together.
How did you get involved with Sargent House in the first place?
I had been a fan of a few of the bands on the label after hearing them through my brother when I was probably 14. Over the next few years I just read all of these great things about Sargent House and their treatment of artists and human beings in general. When I got to college and became quickly disenchanted with it, I freaked out and was looking around for options. I emailed Cathy Pellow (who runs the label) just to ask advice on what a young person who dreams and daydreams of music can best do to become involved on a serious level.
What’s life like on The Farm? I’ve heard you’ve got quite the penchant for looking after the dogs on site?
It’s very secluded and full of options. I’ve spent a lot of time there rehearsing in a way that I don’t think any other environment could provide. There’s a definite mindset surrounding the Farm that, for me, really promotes productivity.
It’s there at The Farm that you wrote your latest album ‘Arizona’ – How was that whole process for you?
Arizona was actually mostly written back in Indiana, only two songs were fully composed out on the Farm, but I definitely refined the full album out there. I do think the isolation provides a comfortable place free of outside influence. I like to think that this record sounds like mine and only mine and that I could attribute that to being out at the Farm reworking all of these songs, free from intrusions whether they’re conscious or not.
I’ve read a few interviews in which the idea of solitude and being alone crops up quite a bit. Was it a conscious decision to work alone as Mylets? Do you bounce ideas off others or do you like to have control over the whole process?
It was a decision that I made years back, but partially made out of necessity. I’d be a moron to not bounce ideas off of my friends since all of my friends are musicians that I have the utmost respect for. I do love having control over all of the more intricate aspects of making a record, but I love showing friend’s new ideas and getting some level of input.
A lot of folk have been going pretty crazy for the new record – How have you been finding the response?
It’s a very nice feeling. This record is so far from what I put out 4 years ago (which got rereleased 2 years ago) and people seem very on board with the progression.
You’ve just finished up a tour around Europe and the UK with Sargent House label-mates ASIWYFA, who seem like the sweetest dudes. How has the tour been for you?
For a 34 day tour it went unbearably fast, I think we were all shocked and a little saddened by how quick it went. This is my second tour with ASIWYFA and I have so much love Rory, Chris, Johnny, and Niall. It was a wonderful experience.
What have been some of your highlights?
There was a day off in Verona, Italy where we rented a condo, went grocery shopping, and then some of the lads cooked a massive dinner which we ate out on the lawn of the condo. I also went on a walk and saw some old amphitheatres and medieval frescos.
I caught the Manchester leg of the UK tour and it only took a song or two for the crowd to be fully committed to you! How have people been taking to your stuff elsewhere?
It was a generally good response everywhere. I think there was an initial shock whether it was figuring out how I was doing what I was doing or maybe just why I was being so shouty on stage.
You seem to really be getting on with TTNG and ASIWYFA – yourself and Henry recently joining ASIWYFA on stage for a song. What’s it like touring with those dudes?
Everyone I’ve toured with and everyone who works at label all happen to be the most amicable people I know. It was very terrifying to move out here alone at 18 and start traveling, so I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by such supportive people.
Finally – you’ve cited ‘Achtung Baby’ as an album that’s incredibly important to you. Twenty years on, U2 are a bit of a sore subject these days, but their 80’s – 90’s output was the tits. What is it about that album in particular that means so much to you?
There’s the famous sound clip from the last show of the Rattle and Hum tour where Bono says something along the lines of “We have to go away and dream it all up again”. They were the biggest band in the world at that point and instead of riding it out and making Joshua Tree Part 2, they dropped everything. They threw away all of their influences, moved geographically, changed the technology they used, changed their image, changed their live show, etc. I don’t know a single other band that is brave enough to take such a risk. And it paid off so massively. Achtung Baby is incredibly important to me, but it’s also incredible important to art in general and I think so many people don’t acknowledge that because of how easy and ‘cool’ it is to hate U2.