Miniature Tigers' Brandon Lee on New Album, Brooklyn, and Man-Bags

It's been two years since Brandon Lee, longtime bassist for Phoenix-bred trip-hop/alternative band Chronic Future and founding member of indie record label Modern Art Records, moved to Brooklyn, New York.

Since then, big things have indeed been happening for B-Lee in BK (along with the rest of the Modern Art Records' crew), including Lee's recent role as newest member in Modern Art's rising indie-poppers, Miniature Tigers.

The band recently wrapped up a brief two-week tour along the west coast, opening for Tennis. We caught up with Lee to discuss Tigers' upcoming album, Mia Pharaoh, their new (hilarious) video for song, "Female Doctor," which premiered last week at Spin, and life as a Phoenix music scene OG turned Big Apple hustler.

Miniature Tigers are scheduled to perform Thursday, March 8, at Crescent Ballroom.

Up on the Sun: What an awesome surprise to see you bangin' on the bass with Miniature Tigers at  the mind-blowing show you dudes put on at Crescent Ballroom last month. How'd it feel to be on tour again? More importantly, how'd it feel to be back in your old Phoenix stompin' grounds?

Brandon Lee: It's always awesome to be back in the Phoenix.  It was especially awesome to see such a cool and thriving new venue downtown. Before the tour I did with Miniature Tigers this past September, I hadn't played a show of any kind in two years. So it's been really fun and refreshing to be back on the road.

Prior to your recent commitment as Tiger's new bass player, it looks like you've spent a lot of time with the band (thanks to my highly advanced super creep Facebook stalking skills). How would you describe your involvement in Miniature Tigers over the years? And will this be a long-time or temporary gig?

I've known Charlie since back in the day, before he started Miniature Tigers. In the early days of the band I used to play shows with them around Phoenix and LA and also did a couple tours together with Dear And The Headlights and Bishop Allen.

Chronic Future was still active back then though, so it was never a permanent thing. However, I'm pleased to announce that I've recently joined the band on a permanent basis (Or "permanent bassist", see what I did there?) and will be continuing to rock with them in the free world. In addition to playing in the band, I have taken a lot of photos for/of them over the years, including but not limited to the covers for the White Magic and Black Magic EP's

We're all super excited to hear the new album, Mia Pharaoh, this year. Can you elaborate on any details. Namely, what to expect and when?

The record is coming out on March 6th on Modern Art Records and we're doing a headlining tour in March as well [Phoenix date below]. There's definitely more keyboards and electronic elements than on the previous records, and a lot of the songs have more of a dance sound to them. I feel like its a natural progression though and it definitely maintains a classic Miniature Tigers feel. Playing live, the new songs blend really nicely with the older material.

What's the word with Chronic Future?

Who knows what could happen in the "future" (see what I did there?) but I guess you could say we're on hiatus at the moment. We're still all best friends but everyone is doing their own thing right now.

People may not know you're a huge hip-hop head. How do you think your love for hip-hop has shaped your musical talent today? Yeah,there were definitely a few years where almost all that I listened to was hip-hop. I was really into DJ'ing and turntablism in the late '90s and early '00s, which then led to me making beats and emceeing a bit. The skills that I picked up back then have definitely made me a much more well-rounded musician and songwriter. I did some of the production work on "Sex On The Regular" on the new Miniature Tigers record so look out for that. And, I actually have been getting back into making hip-hop/rap beats and have been working with a couple MC's here in NYC, but we'll save that for the next [Up On the Sun] interview.

Is there anything else us local folk should know about your life lately in the Big Apple?

Well,for my most recent endeavor I am in the process of starting an accessories line, mainly focusing on handbags (men's and women's) right now. The line is called The Park After Dark. Aside from music, fashion has been my biggest passion for the last five or six years, and having my own line has always been a dream of mine. I started making laptop bags for myself about a year ago just for fun. Then, people on the street started asking me where I got it, so I decided to start making different styles of bags and selling them. Right now I'm making everything myself by hand in my apartment in Brooklyn, but hopefully by this time next year I will have expanded a bit, haha. My website theparkafterdark.net will be up in the next month or so.

Miniature Tigers are scheduled to perform Thursday, March 8, at Crescent Ballroom.

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