From September through December, SI will be speaking to musicians of all genres about the intersection of music and sports. This week, SI sits down with lifelong Knicks fan Andrew Wyatt, the lead singer of Swedish electronic pop band Miike Snow. Wyatt discussed the band’s new album iii, due out in March, as well as his childhood experiences playing basketball, watching Patrick Ewing, and going to the U.S. Open tennis tournament.
SI.com: The most recent thing that’s happened with you was a Run The Jewels remix of ‘Heart is Full.’ How did that work, did you have a run-in with them?
Andrew Wyatt: I think our managers know each other. I guess in some way that it was expressed either we were looking for a remix, and the manager expressed to our manager that Run The Jewels liked our music. So we were really excited to hear that, because I’m a huge fan of theirs. But we ended up communicating through our managers. I still haven’t met those guys.
SI: Would you like to, one day?
AW: Oh yeah, I’d like to do a show with them live at some point. We’ll have to see if our schedules line up.
SI: One of your band-mates Pontus said that this new album is ‘the original Miike Snow sound, but taken to the next level.’ How are you taking it to the next level, but still maintaining your original sound?
AW: I don’t know how you do it, but you just sort of listen to what’s going on in music and balance that against what you’ve always liked in music and just try to do a combination of those two things. That’s really the reason you want to make music now; you sort of have a dialogue with our times. Some people were surprised that it didn’t sound exactly like our first album. Well, a lot of time has passed. That was six years ago, almost seven even. You just use your instincts. Once you’re in the studio, it’s not necessarily intellectual activity. I guess in that way it’s similar to sports.
SI: You mentioned that you listen to some of the music of the times, and you have a dialogue. What were you listening to at the time that you made the album that was maybe influencing it whether you knew it or not?
AW: I definitely feel like we’re at a great time. It’s funny, if you hear the people from the record labels talk, sometimes they’ll be like, ‘This is a terrible time for hip-hop.’ Because, you know, hip-hop records used to just — anybody put their record out and they could sell a million albums. I have an issue sometimes when people try to gauge the music that’s coming out because of a certain market in music. The hip-hop stuff that’s coming out right now is, I think, some of the most creative stuff that it’s ever been. It’s very psychedelic to me. I think I was influenced a lot by that, a lot of soul music, and, like, singing that is influenced by some of the primary people that I was I was influenced by like Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind, and Fire is back now, so it’s interesting and also kind of tough.
SI: This is your first new music in three years, do you miss the feeling of getting music out?
AW: I think it’s a little nerve wracking, frankly. I think you have to log out. It’s kind of like in sports, where you hear golfers say ‘I’m just trying to play my game.’ I think it’s important that in music, you just keep doing what you do. Don’t worry what people say about it, or how many people have bought it, or are listening to it, or whatever. You just do your thing, and log out, and play your game.
SI: Did you used to play sports as a kid? What were some of your sporting experiences growing up?
AW: I was actually a pretty good basketball player. I used to play on West 4th Street in Manhattan. When Anthony Mason showed up, I would usually leave. But I would play out there in the summertime when I was a kid. I didn’t really go to college, I went for a short period to a classical conservatory in the University of Colorado and I used to play pick-up games with like — Chauncey Billups had just left, but it was kind of his and stuff that would play. So, I used to have good game. I haven’t played very much in the last 10 years or so, but I used to ball a lot. A lot. It was a very, very important thing to me and my childhood. I always said if I could play the Garden as a musician, that’s second best to being able to play there as a basketball player. I always wanted to play at the Garden as a kid. But I’ll settle for playing it as a musician.
SI: You used to run into Anthony Mason?
AW: Ya know, he would show up, and I would just get off. I was playing down there when, like, Mason and Charles Oakley would come down sometimes and play on West 4th Street. But those guys were really serious, obviously. So I would pull myself off the court at that time. But I would play with people that would stay and play with those guys.
SI: I’m assuming you probably watched them play a little bit out there, but did you ever get to see them at The Garden? Do you remember your first Knicks game?
AW: My first Knicks game was probably a Knicks-Chicago game in like ‘86. And I went, and had these horrible seats. My dad brought me. And it was good seeing Ewing and Jordan — I think Jordan did score like 64 points or something, and that was it. The Knicks lost. But maybe it was even one of those games where Jordan scored 64 points and the Knicks still won. It was crazy, those were fun times.
SI: Who is your favorite Knick of all-time, since you’ve been a fan for a little while?
AW: That’s a tough one. Well, actually I had an interesting experience — Bernard King was actually my teacher for a little while. He had a basketball camp and I went for a couple of years in the summertime. So, I’d have to say Bernard King. He’s a great guy. Not just a great basketball player, but you can just tell that there’s something about his vibe that was just very über — and I’m not talking about the car service.
And, yeah, you’ve got Carmelo Anthony and you’ve got great guys playing there now, but to be honest, not that anyone’s going to care what I say, it sort of feels like the Knicks always had some of the greatest players, but missed out on that missing ingredient which was like playing as a team really well. And I think it has something to with New York, it’s a city where everybody comes to get ahead.
SI: Well does it feel like it’s a little different now, though? It feels like now they’re a little more of a "team" with Phil Jackson, right?
AW: I really haven’t followed as much in the last couple of years, traveling so much and living in Sweden and L.A. I’m not as up on it as I should be, and I definitely want to get to some games at The Garden this year and get back into it.
SI: Have you heard anything about Porzingis, though?
AW: Oh, of course I have, yeah. Godzingis, you mean? I get all my basketball information from Eddie Huang now. He’s a great guy and a huge Knicks fan.
SI: When you get to The Garden, who’s the one person you’d want to meet. Would you want to meet Porzingis? He could be the next Ewing.
AW: I hope so, and I hope — [laughs] I’m just going to say controversial things, man. Like, Ewing was great. He was a great player. But the last three minutes of the game, you couldn’t count on him the way you could count on, like, Karl Malone or Scottie Pippen. It wasn’t the same level, and that’s why they didn’t win championships. I hate to say it, I don’t want to be a [jerk], but…
SI: It’s been a rough ride for Knicks fans.
AW: Yeah. I hope [Porzingis] is better. I hope he’s better. And I hope he learns how to — Ewing’s thing was he would always get upset, and it was always everybody else’s fault, and he’d just get into a bad mood. And then he would suck at the end of the game when they needed to come back and win. And, that’s the thing about life. You’ll always have to come back. You’re never just going to get it right away. Every victory in life involves some sort of comeback. You can’t fold it up. Don’t get me wrong, he was a great player and a lot of fun to watch, but yeah…
SI: Boy, I really hit a tough spot there. On a much lighter note, could you ever see yourself making a Knicks reference on a song? Like, if they became really good?
AW: Uh, no.
SI: Why not?
AW: I guess never say never, but usually sports analogies in songs don’t have the most romantic connotation to them. I mean I think you can get away with it, if you’re being super clever. I think I would write it in a song for someone else. But not for myself.
SI: You’ve made some sports connotations. What athlete do you see yourself as as a musician?
AW: I think probably Jimmy Connors. Because I’m like, still at it, at an advanced age, and trying to play with the young kids. And on some days, on my better days, holding my own. Longtime career, ups and downs, times where he faded out and came back. Or maybe Agassi, or something. I like tennis.
SI: You ever used to go to the U.S. Open as a kid?
AW: All the time. It was my Mom’s favorite thing to do.
SI: You mentioned Agassi and Connors, who would be your favorite tennis player?
AW: I actually really like Djokovic. He’s also funny. You know, Federer’s great, you’ve got to love it and everything, but he’s a little boring. I like Djokovic because he’s kind of what I would be if I was a great tennis player. He’s making jokes, he’s very emotional, he doesn’t play perfectly but he’s super-gifted. He’s great. I love him. I love watching him, and I love him as a person. I think it’s really cool that he’s from the Serbia because I think we need an understanding of their culture. We need the most international player that we can get. A guy that helps countries feel closer together.
SI: Well, thank you Andrew. You’re certainly a big Knicks fan.
AW: The Knicks have broken my heart for decades, but I still love them.