MixHell, the Brazilian electro outfit started by Iggor Cavalera — the former drummer in tribal funk-metal muthas Sepultura — and his wife Laima Leyton, are back with a new album. Signed to Boys Noize Records, 'Space' sees them explore a more organic live electro sound, aided in no small part by the expert live bass guitar-playing of former studio cohort Max Blum, who has now become a full member of the live act.
Coupled with Iggor's amazing live drumming — he became Sepultura's drummer at 13, adopted by the wild outlaw clan and falling into the rock & roll lifestyle as he toured the world — they now have a dynamite rhythm section which, when coupled with Laima's new-found vox and decks 'n' synth work, makes them an exhilarating proposition.
DJ Mag first saw MixHell at the Skolbeats festival in Brazil a few years ago, and they've since become a fully-fledged international act. “We are proud to have gained the support of the electro scene, but most of all, we are glad to have them as special friends in our lives,” Iggor tells DJ Mag. “James Murphy, Erol, Soulwax, Boys Noize, DJ Hell, Justice and others — besides being supporters — are part of our family today, and this strong relation we've built is priceless.”
MixHell grew organically after the husband and wife team initially immersed themselves in the Brazilian electronic music scene, being in no rush to make or release tracks to start with. “While we were working on remixes and our own productions, offers started coming in, different labels and proposals,” Laima says. “Iggor was a bit tired of all the label thing he had lived with since his teenage years, so we left it aside and did not worry about signing with any label at that time.
“Finally, when Alex (Boys Noize) asked us, we thought it'd be cool to work with someone special,” Laima continues. “Besides being [behind] the label, he was a very good friend who has always talked seriously to us about our productions, supported and encouraged us with a lot of respect. So, this was it! We found an amazing home.”
The blend of rolling punk funk, detached Kittin-esque electro/techno, raw clattering Soulwax riddims, krautrock motorik sensibilities and languid space-age phuture electro-funk makes this a body of work to seek out and treasure. Mixed by glistening techno don Gui Boratto, a fellow Brazilian (as are their graphic designer Pedro Inoue and video director Thiago Zanato), the 'Space' album and accompanying live shows are sure to elevate MixHell into the premier league of electronic acts.
Lead single 'Exit Wound' is a rock & rave delight, sleazy vocals, squirrelling electronics and power-funk drums giving it an accessible edge that had Alex Ridha (Boys Noize) suggesting it as a single “as he had an earworm for it”. 'The Way', meanwhile, has Laima sounding sultry, like someone who has been singing all her life.
“All my life I've had people telling me I was unable to sing,” Laima tells DJ Mag, “so to have Iggor and Max encouraging me felt really good, to break some of my blocks. We often needed vocals on our tracks, so I decided we'd give it a try.”
Iggor used to save his drumming skillz for just the odd track during a show, otherwise staffing the decks, but now he drums the whole gig. “With the new live performance, while Max plays bass and Laima does synths and vocals, I drum the full set — going from the acoustic drums to the pads and the Roland 909.”
The presence of Iggor, still a widely-known character in international rawwk circles, has drawn many Sepultura fans to MixHell shows — and converted a fair few to the wonders of electronic music. “A lot of those fans who came to see what I am doing are already open-minded to come to a club, and therefore they became electronic fans,” says Iggor. “It's quite interesting, as nowadays the metal crowd is really looking for new stuff.”