Minimal Recorded Its Latest Album in an Abandoned Church in Wynwood

Minimal has been orbiting the heart of the Latin indie-rock scene for quite a while. Not just in Miami, but on a national level. And this much respected four-piece has recently released its fourth, and perhaps greatest, album, Fauna, produced by Multiple Grammy Award winner Rafael Lazzaro and recorded in an antique church in Wynwood.

The band's official video for the album's title track was directed by Miami's Denzyl Irrizagui, a member of the Miami artist collective Cream.

Minimal has come a long way since its first album, Fotos, Cartas y un Puñal, was released in 2006. Since then, the Miami-based act has performed alongside other Latin acts Bomba Estereo, Aterciopelados, Amigos Invisibles, and a whole lot more. We caught up with Gabriel Ayala, Minimal's singer/guitarist, via email to pick his brain about Fauna and what the future holds for these masked predators of sound.

New Times: How long have you guys known each other?
Gabriel Ayala: Alex, Rob and I met when we were just 12 or 13, in the mid-'90s, when our families migrated to Miami from Colombia and Peru. We eventually went to high school together and have been playing music ever since. Fernando, our bass player, came along just a few years ago. We kind of stole him from another band.

What's with the church you recorded in? How did that come about, and how did it turn out?
It was a nondenominational Christian church on the NW Seventh Avenue corridor, apparently abandoned after the last economic recession. It now serves as a live-work center for artists and musicians alike. We bunkered the studio in the nave over a couple of weeks and recorded most of it in live sessions. It was an interesting and challenging experience because of how sonically “wild” the room was, lots of room reverb, and with all the studio gear all over us. We were looking for a different — not very clean or pure – sound, so the room size and the vibe worked great for us and the whole concept we were going for.

You guys seem pretty tight. If you all were in a plane that was going down and one of you had to either jump or be pushed off to save the rest, how would that go down?
I think we would spend most of the time fighting about who has to make the ultimate sacrifice. Like a great marriage, we spend a lot of time fighting. Although I’m pretty sure Alejo would sacrifice himself for everyone else. He has a bit of a thing for high-level drama.

Is there a tour planned yet, and how have you been accepted outside Miami from both Latin and non-Latin audiences?
We have some California and Texas dates for September and even South America before the end of the year. We often find our music is well accepted in other U.S. cities outside Miami, especially in those with more established alternative live music scenes.
What's been your favorite and least favorite place to play in Miami?
Our favorite has definitely been PAX, which only had a two-year run in East Little Havana. They treated musicians with a lot of respect and had a great sound and stage. Our least-favorite place must have definitely been playing the Bayside Market Stage for a bunch of tourists – not much to say about that.

Do you guys have any specific short- and long-term goals? Or are you just playing to play? 
We always keep some short-term goals, specifically playing local shows, recording, and maybe touring a bit. Other than that, the long-term plan is always full of uncertainty.

What's with the masks?
The masks are designed by Steve Wintercroft, who is a British designer. Our friend Alex Izaguirre, who did the album artwork, found them and suggested we incorporate them into the whole image for the album. We’ve always had a thing for dressing up onstage, and we felt that the masks worked well for the visual concept.

Explain the album title, Fauna, for us.
We like to think of Miamians as the fauna of the city, so diverse and rich. We love it here and love the diversity that migration has given to this wild, hot, and humid place.

If you could change one thing about Miami (other than the traffic), what would it be? 
Is cooler weather outside of the question too? I want to see a weirder Miami — more art districts, more Churchill's Pubs, more Nicaraguan fritangas in yuppie and hipster districts. Make Miami a bit more weird…

You guys have been at this for quite a while. Do you have a timeframe for how long you want to keep playing?
Not really. If at some point we stop having fun with music, then maybe. But as long as we like what we do, we’ll keep on playing with no regrets.