Feedback: Miki Berenyi & KJ ‘Moose’ McKillop of Piroshka

Feedback
07/27/2021
Janice Headley
all photos courtesy of the artist

Welcome to the latest edition of Feedbacka look (down) at the pedalboards and equipment of some of our favorite musicians.

Today, we hear from Miki Berenyi & KJ ‘Moose’ McKillop, longtime partners, parents, and both revered guitarists in their own right — Berenyi as co-founder of Lush, the most ethereal band to ever tour Lollapalooza in the '90s, and Moose as guitarist for, well, Moose, a cult fave band who straddled the line of shoegaze and jangle-pop 'til their 2000 demise. The pair are joined by Elastica drummer Justin Welch and Modern English bassist Mick Conroy to form Piroshka, a band who has entranced us since their 2018 debut album Brickbat

On their follow-up LP Love Drips And Gathers (released July 23rd via Bella Union), the group moves away from the political disdain of the first album and relaxes into a more vulnerable, introspective mood, with Berenyi and Moose dividing up lyrical duty and reflecting on their shared life together. We asked the pair to share the tools they used to compose and craft the new songs, which range from otherwordly minimalism (like the gorgeous ballad "Familiar," which would make former Cocteau Twins guitarist/Lush producer Robin Guthrie proud) to the buoyant Brit-Pop of "Scratching at the Lid" and beyond.


Miki

I’m really not much of a tech fiend when it comes to guitars/effects. Having found a formula that works, I’ve stuck with it. I bought my first 12-string – a vintage Gibson 335 – back in 1989 and it became part of the signature Lush sound. I switched to Fender 12 for Piroshka, just to change things up a little. It has a wider neck, which makes it trickier to play live (guitars generally aren’t designed with women’s smaller hands in mind and I still love my Gibsons for their lovely slim necks), but the sound is brighter.

My Boss pedal board and setup is the same as it was for Lush, back in the '90s. I don’t like to mess about too much with the sound in order to preserve the 12-string’s unique quality. Too many effects and you may as well be playing a 6-string. My role is to thicken out the sound behind the more complex lead guitar, so overall it’s a case of "less is more" — delay and chorus to add ambience, overdrive and/or distortion when a song needs a bit of oomph to cut through or to sizzle around the more powerful drums.

There’s also a practical issue – having to sing and play at the same time is complicated enough without having to tap-dance all over a complicated range of pedals. 

Moose

Ambience – I can never have enough ambient pedals. I’m not into rage and distortion. Live, I use as much reverb as I can get away with from the amps. My board includes four delay pedals – a Strymon Timeline, El Capistan, Space Echo and Catalinbread Echorec – all set to different timings, all firing at the same time. They’re never off! 

It’s a bit of an indulgent pedalboard – I like to change things up a bit, just for my own entertainment. I might get through a tour without even touching the Attack/Decay – it’ll depend on my mood. Songs like "We Told You," "She’s Unreal," and "Lullaby" allow for some improvisation, so I can change up the sound depending on how I feel. 

The Catalinbread pedals are superb quality and they’re compact, which makes them easy to squeeze into my pedalboard. But I still rely on my old Boss CE5, which I have never found a match for. Like the Ibanez Tubescreamer, it’s a survivor from my Moose days and I have a sentimental attachment to it. If I had to grab three pedals to rush onstage with, I’d choose the Boss CE5, the Tubescreamer, and the Space Echo.

The G2 switching system has been a bit of a life saver. It saves an awful lot of hassle having all your set-ups saved and accessible. I was pleasantly surprised with my relatively budget-bracket TC Thurnderstorm flanger, which is the best I’ve ever owned. It’s a real workhorse and has great depth.

I’m often trying to recreate keyboard-type sounds with the guitar, such as using the Electroharmonix Mellotron pedal through one amplifier and getting the stereo effect – one amp sounds like a guitar with plenty of reverb and ambience, the other sounds nothing like a guitar. I’m aiming to create as many layers of sound as I can with one pair of hands – an orchestra of electronics!


TOUR DATES

Date City Venue Country
02 Nov 2021 Brighton Chalk United Kingdom
03 Nov 2021 Leeds Brudenell Social Club United Kingdom
05 Nov 2021 Manchester Deaf Institute United Kingdom
06 Nov 2021 London Garage United Kingdom
07 Nov 2021 Guildford Boileroom United Kingdom

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