Q&A with Mackintosh Braun

Portland’s dreamy electric-pop duo, Mackintosh Braun are on the verge of releasing their third studio album, Arcadia, and it’s safe to say that these two have big things coming their way. Their recently released single, “We Ran Faster Then” is haunting and dreamy – and well worth listening to more than once. We had the chance to catch up with Ben Braun and Ian Mackintosh about the new album, their journeys as musicians and what the future holds for Mackintosh Braun. Check out the full interview and a stream of “We Ran Faster Then” below.

Interview by Dom Vigil

With your new album, Arcadia being your third studio release, was there anything you really wanted to be able to accomplish with it?

Ben Braun: I think we wanted to try new things but also stay true to who we are as songwriters and producers. You always want people to respond to your music in a positive way but beyond that we want to put something out that musically expands on what we’ve already done.

What areas of your sound did you want to expand upon with this record?

Ben: For us making music is something that we want to come naturally, so we went into this record with a sense of what we wanted it to sound like but also we knew we wanted to do something that pushed our own boundaries a bit more. We feel like we accomplished that, which is one of the things that makes this album special.

What are you most excited for listeners to hear?

Ian Mackintosh: I think Ben and I were able to create a really great moment for people if they’re able to to hear the record in its entirety. There are things sonically and musically that we’ve always wanted to try. This album was the first time both of us had ever worked with a producer. Lars sometimes forced us to step outside what we were comfortable with and got a great sound out of us. I love the drums on this record. I love how they sound on every song. Ben (Braun) and Mike Jimenez did a great job.

Do you have a favorite song on the album?

Ian: Of course I’m proud all of the songs but I think Outline has been a consistent favorite of mine. But It sometimes gets eclipsd buy “another place” or “through the noise”.

Ben: Right now I think mine is either “Signal” or “The City Below”

You recently released “We Ran Faster Then,” which is the last song on the album – can you tell us a little bit about the track?

Ben: Yeah. “We Ran Faster Then” is a song about getting older and loosing youth, but feeling inspired about how far you’ve come. The concept of the phrase “We Ran Faster Then” is in reference to being a kid, that feeling of running and never getting tired and now feeling like time is catching up with you. It’s almost like we’re trying to convince ourselves that we won’t let that happen.

You said you guys never worked with a producer before Arcadia, so how was working with Lars Stalfors for this record?

Ben: Working with Lars was rad. He’s a super creative, talented dude and he really understood our sound and what we were aiming for with this record. We had a great time recording and trying out new things at his studio, also went and recorded a bit in San Pedro at Cold War Kids’ studio with him. Awesome experience overall.

You’ve spoken before about how the two of you started writing and recording the day that you met – what was the dynamic like between you back when Mackintosh Braun first formed?

Ian: I think we have pretty similar tastes in what we think sounded good to us throughout music’s history. Right after we met we started writing together. We created this mountain of ideal sounds and slowly started picking away at. Collaborating was effortless. We volleyed ideas off each other like machine gun fire. Great sounding songs to us seemed to appear out of thin air.

How do you think that dynamic has grown or changed over the years?

Ian: I think we’ve tried to keep that spontaneous style of working together we had when we first met. But It’s actually grown and changed in a lot of ways. We both have had a lot of respect for each other from the very beginning. But I think that it’s how we’ve challenged each other that has helped us grow. Both intellectually and musically.

After Arcadia, what is the rest of 2015 looking like for Mackintosh Braun? Do you have any big plans in the works?

Ben: We’re looking forward to getting to cities we haven’t played in yet and also getting back to those spots that have responded to us so well already. Looking forward to people hearing the whole album and hopefully enjoy it as much as we did making it.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

Ian: Looking forward to people getting to hear our music. Thanks for this time to talk.

Ben: I like turtles.