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Albany's Mirk and the New Familiars ready to reach next level

By Irving DeJohn
On March 10, 2010

 Mirk and the New Familiars are quickly making a name for themselves in Albany. With an upcoming second album and an invitation to the SXSW music festival, they have achieved much since their early 2009 inception.

   Joshua ‘Mirk' Mirsky wrote and produced their entire first album, "Love," himself before compiling a group of six other musicians from networking, Craigslist, and other means to bring his project to fruition live. The result a year later is a cohesive group of musicians set to use their energetic live act to propel them into further success with a second yet to be titled album and a remake of "Love" with the entire group.

   Mirk and the New Familiars sit down with the Albany Student Press to discuss the local Albany scene, their recent successes and even their connection to superstars Regina Spektor and Jay-Z.

AlbanyStudentPress: Describe your sound.

Mirk: I was just going for blending a lot of the music that I really loved growing up. I'm really into rich vocal harmonies. I think that's not represented enough in the hip-hop world where I was coming from. Sam Cooke, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, original Nas and early Outkast and the "Love Below" was a big influence on me as well — it's not all about how far back, it's just about the classic-ness of the music. I just feel like genre binds people and you have to stay in a certain lane. I think we can do whatever we want, that's the beauty of music — you can do whatever you want.

ASP: Tell me about the track you did for Jay-Z.

Mirk: I sampled Regina Spektor and then I put my own drums and bass line behind it. I made it like five years  ago. The music industry is so finicky. As an independent producer I recorded with Busta Rhymes, Rah Digga and lots of people but tracks never made it anywhere though — people don't realize artists will record like 100 or 50 songs for an album. They wanted to put it on "Blueprint 3" but they couldn't get the sample cleared in time — they were gonna do it for a rerelease but "Blueprint 3" did so well that they were anticipating having to do a rerelease and now they don't. He's working on his new album and its supposedly going to be on the new album — he did an interview on MTV talking about how he's got his new album going and he has one track done — I'd imagine that one track he's talking about is "Crispy Benjamin's."

ASP: What are your thoughts on the SUNY Albany community?

Mirk: I'm surprised nobody has exploited you guys musically. There's a HUGE community of college students that in general love music. There's nobody in Albany really taking advantage of that crop of music listeners. It just hasn't happened yet. There's enough people at SUNY Albany alone, not to mention St. Rose and all the other large colleges in the area to get a really dope live music scene — nobody has taken advantage of that. I don't get it. I think SUNY Albany has a ripe crop of music listeners. We're very excited with how people have been responding.

ASP: What are some of your favorite venues?

Mirk: We all have favorite venues and we like different venues for different reasons. We can get really good sound at Red Square and its big enough to support a humongous show which we've done a couple of times. Lark Tavern is great because I grew up on Lark Street and we have a lot of friends in the area and at that bar specifically so we always have fun there. Justin's we do a Tuesday night Justin's show – we don't promote it, we don't tell anybody when it's going to be, you just have to hear about it. It only happens on Tuesday and its once every four to six maybe. It's like a secret show, we usually put out a Facebook invite, for that one we don't. All the bartenders know about it.

Andy O'Brien (Keyboards): The people who work weekends. That's been one of the core of our promotions. The people who work on Lark Street on the weekends, the waitstaff, whatever, they've been really supportive – that's where it all happens, that's where word kind of spreads on that corner and through those people who have been tremendously supportive of us. We did that originally as a birthday party for a bartender who works at Justin's – we played on a Tuesday and we decided to make it a regular things because most of our shows are on weekends and the people that really support us have to work on those days.

Mirk: We stay there until like 1, 2 o'clock on a Tuesday you have to really want to be there. We broke into "Piano Man" randomly one night. I can't tell you how many people come to our shows and are like ‘YO DO PIANO MAN!' We don't even do "Piano Man" that was that one show, bro. That was impromptu, Andy was wasted, he just started playing it – the whole band didn't even play but the whole place was singing it.

AO: I don't remember that at all.

ASP: Do you have one dream venue or dream concert that you want to play?

Mirk: Madison Square Garden. Or whatever the Knick is called now, the Times Union Center so we could be like hometown heroes. The Egg. Any of the real deal Albany venues.

Mike Thronton (guitars): I was going to say the Fuller Roadhouse, but that's just me.

Mirk: Haha yeah, I want to play the Bayou on 80's hair band night.

AO: I think playing the Palace Theatre for a hometown show in about a year would be amazing. Tour around for a year and play for like a thousand people. That would be an incredible experience. It'd be like a giant living room show. You could stay there for hours just listening looking at shit.

ASP: Do you ever wish you went to UAlbany?

Mirk: Purchase was a great experience. I wouldn't have met Regina Spektor. So I probably wouldn't have discovered her music necessarily. We had every class together. We were in all the same classes together. Mike the guitar player had classes with her too.

ASP: Is that weird seeing her kind of take off?

Mirk: I don't know if you know the band Kiss Kiss but we went to school with those guys. Dan Deacon. Richie Casetellano the guitarist from Blue Oyster Cult.

ASP: Did you ever make a move on her?

Mirk: Nah nah nah, she's an angel, she really is. She would bring you to tears in class – just her and a piano she would just make you cry. Just imagine getting a private Regina Spektor concert every week with like you and twelve other people in the class. Getting to hear all her demo's and shit. Everybody knew she was going to be a superstar.

ASP: For someone reading this article who doesn't know who you are, why should they listen to you?

Mirk: I would say so they can get on to what's next – be part of what's going to happen early. You hear about people the bands who make it, and overnight success but they've been doing it for years. The way people know about bands is spreading that word – I feel like we have a pretty good chance especially with the Jay Z record coming out and the other stuff we have on the table. Just our drive and the amount of work we're putting in.

   It's all about continuing and pressing ahead even when shit doesn't look like it's going to work out. It's all about perseverance – none of us are willing to give up. We just hit our year anniversary on February 13th. So if you really want to be down with some fresh underground shit that everyone is going to be talking about later now the time's to do it.

   To read the rest of the interview with Mirk and the New Familiars, check out our blog at

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