Misfit Mod: Sugar & Space

Misfit Mod may sound like a cute nickname for Polly Maggoo, however, it’s actually the musical moniker of Sarah Kelleher, a London-based electronic musician.  Her debut album, Islands &...

Misfit Mod may sound like a cute nickname for Polly Maggoo, however, it’s actually the musical moniker of Sarah Kelleher, a London-based electronic musician.  Her debut album, Islands & Islands, is set to be released in 2013, but has been in the works since 2007.  However, her debut single, “Sugar C.,” drops today, December 4th, on a limited pressing of 200 7-inches.  The song, a perfect example of electronic minimalism done right, drips with space age eroticism.  It’s gentle and morbid… but also quite a bit exhilarating in a primal sense.  Islands & Islands promises to be an epic postmodern deluge of whimsy.  I recently talked to Kelleher about exactly what you can expect of her sounds to come.

Izzy Cihak: I have to ask, what inspired your moniker?  I quite like it.

Sarah Kelleher: Thanks. To be honest I’m not exactly sure how it came about. It was a while ago now and I suppose it’s stuck with me. I must have liked the way the two words sounded together. It’s not a reference to any particular thing, really. It just kind of happened.

IC: How would you characterize your sound?  It’s a very cleverly interesting amalgamation of musical scenes and genres.

SK: I think it sounds underwatery, dreamy, icy, and transparent. It’s strange pop music, I guess. I love harmony. I love melody. And I love simplicity. Those are the main things I think about when I’m writing.

IC: What are your biggest inspirations, whether musical or otherwise?  They seem to be quite diverse.

SK: Yeah, I have tons of inspirations.  I’m super interested in anything visual; Yayoi Kusama, is a favorite. I really love color. I really like a lot of fashion designers, too. I suppose I always tend to gravitate toward things that seem far removed from  what I create because it still has that sense of mystery and wonder. Musically, I’m into a lot of different stuff and it changes all the time. I grew up on lots of Neil Young, Talking Heads, B52’s, things like that. At the moment, I’m listening to a lot of R&B stuff. I’ve been a fan of the Cocteau Twins for a long time, Fleetwood Mac, Arvo Part.

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IC: What have been your highlights of 2012?  I understand your album has been quite a few years in the making.

SK: Signing with Stars and Letters has been pretty great. It’s been really exciting watching the label evolve and take shape. The other bands on the label are amazing and Mark Roberts, the founder and one of my very best friends, is really fun to work with.  Creating the “Sugar C.” 7” vinyl was a total blast.  My friends live in the same apartment block as this guy who presses records, so I ended up getting it mastered and cut there. It was amazing watching this process take place: diamond needle carving sounds onto a lathe! My friend, Brooke Olsen, designed the cover; it’s a lino cut of a zen girl levitating in a massive, melting ice cube. Each copy is unique, so it’s fun that people can choose the copy that suits them the best, makes it more personal and interesting.

IC: What are your plans, hopes, and goals for 2013?  Any plans for extensive touring?

SK: At the moment I’m in New Zealand. I’m planning to get back to London after the summer here is over.  The plan is to go to New York, meet up with the label, and do a few shows. It’s a little sketchy at this stage, but that’s what I’m aiming for. I’m working on a couple of new music videos at the moment, so they will be ready earlier next year. I’d also really love to release another album sometime in 2013.

Band Interviews

During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.