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"Monday, 23 May 2005"

Written by Jesse J

WANTED: Musicians to join well established, Halifax based melodic pop band. Talents and interests should include diversity in musical stylings, strong backing vocals - preference will be given to multi-instrumentalists. Must be available for occasional travel to Germany and Barbados for festival spots and possess huge amounts of energy and passion for performing live.

If this were an actual advertisement, front man Asif Illyas, his bass playing younger brother Shehab and drummer Adam Dowling would settle for nothing short of a perfect fit for their musical framework collectively known as MIR. Much like the Russian space station that explored the nether spheres of planet Earth, MIR the band scouts the nether world of musical composition, seemingly never satisfied with traditional arrangements and/or overuses of key pop music terms such as: baby, yah, no-no, girl, ooh ooh and hey! MIR chooses instead to scribe lyrics that could double as poetry and opt for use of dynamics over placing a hook in an oh-so-right place. Asif's lyrics are based on themes of self-reflection, his own explanations and interpretations of day-to-day world events and the toll on humanity with events such as 9-11. On songs such as ‘A Conversation with the Mirror' off the band's 2004 release ‘7 Directions', Illyas sings ‘They dragged me in, and now I want my agent, can I speak to a lawyer, not some ‘Bush' league who thinks he's Tom Sawyer, not a medicine man who thinks he's a savior, not a holy man who drinks me under the table, I need you to open your mind, see beyond your own reflection, to look within, the 7th Direction'. He expands more about the concept of the 7th Direction, a belief that in addition to North, South, East and West are three other directive guides that include up (sky), down (Earth) and in (to one's self) on ‘Be Strong and Walk On' - ‘Like a bird with broken wings I want to fly, sometimes it seems so hard to even try, and sometimes it seems like the road goes on so long, be strong and walk on, a thousands miles seems nothing now.' When I asked Asif about where he draws inspiration for his lyrics he mentioned these two songs in particular as being drawn from 9-11. "We were in Germany just days after September 11th and we were slated to play at the New Pop Festival with Sugar Ray, Uncle Kracker and Travis. It was a huge opportunity for us and at the last second it was all canceled." This was nothing short of a major blow to any independent band, but MIR marched on and has since had the opportunity of sharing the stage with acts such as Lenny Kravitz, Groove Armada, Macy Gray, The Tragically Hip, Barenaked Ladies, Sloan, Blue Rodeo and Oscar Peterson. On MIR's long list of accomplishments, one of the top ranking is the Concert for Asia that the band instigated and helped arrange start to finish in just 6 days this past January following the Asian Tsunami that devastated regions of the country that Asif and Shehab were born in, Sri Lanka. The highly successful event raised $108,000 for the victims relief fund and was deservedly recognized as "Outstanding Special Event" at the 2005 Maritime Philanthropy Awards, nominated by OXFAM Canada. MIR's involvement in Concert for Asia in Halifax, led to an invite to perform in the nationally broadcast "Canada For Asia" concert, on January 13/05 in Toronto which featured acts such as Celine Dion, Bryan Adams and Rush. Name-dropping aside, MIR has a lot to be proud by their own accord. To date they have self-produced and tracked three albums from their own studio, shot and edited a couple of their own videos, created their own album art and built their own website - all within the ménage-a-MIR talent pool. "Being able to make a go of it as an independent band and over-coming the challenges that we've faced is something that we're most proud of" states Asif when asked the question of what makes him red in the face the most. I dug deeper on this point asking him about the band's philosophy on a future record deal and whether or not we would see MIR on a major label release some day. While the band has had a publishing deal in Germany and relies on distribution in Canada by MapleNationWide, Asif rests easy knowing that he and his band mates are in ultimate control of their creative destinies at the moment. This topic was left open ended when he later stated that the right record deal would be welcomed - a double-sided answer to address a double-edged sword subject. MIR is currently tracking a soon-to-be released acoustic album, featuring songs from their current song catalogue that they've performed on live radio and TV spots in the past. After that's wrapped up, the band will start recording new material later this year that will be included as part of a new album.

With the Hammer and Sickle's space station being nothing more than an entry in history books and a topic of conversation in the NASA cafeteria, MIR the three-piece pop band from Ca - TheBullhorn.net

"Mir Take On Seven Directions"

Halifax is home to two of Canada's most innovative and interesting pop
groups. Both The Heavy Blinkers (who I've written about recently in this
column on the issuing of their latest CD The Night And I Are Still So Young)
and Mir are defiantly independent bands that mine a motherlode of powerfully
melodic mainstream contemporary pop music.

Mir's latest release, 7 Directions, is an extraordinary album by any
measure. The high-tech trio can easily boast the East Coast's highest level
of musicianship. The group can also legitimately claim to have one of North
America's most talented songwriters, Asif Illyas, at the centre of their
creative activities.

Illyas reputation is such that he's been kept busy writing other musical
projects including award-winning film scores (Cecil's Journey by Rohan
Fernando was one) along with theme music for CBC Radio (the familiar
acoustic jangle of Halifax's Information Morning another). While these are
pleasant sidebars, Illyas true forte is the contemporary postmodern pop
song, and Mir's new album 7 Directions is chock-a-block full of his concise,
poignant and deeply moving songwriting.

Once upon a time, when Asif Illyas was still maturing as a creative artist,
he would use Paul Simon and Sting as departure points, temper the process
with a few world music references, and then hold the whole thing together
with his--and his bandmates--superb musical abilities. On 7 Directions, any
trace of formative influences are now gone, and Illyas and Mir have moved on
to a strikingly original sound that sounds like no-one else in the world.
There's touches of rap, techno and few samples of world music, but for the
most part, this new album sees the band pursuing an aggressive spareness
that mixes austerity with a strange, unearthly confidence. Previously, Mir
made use of a lush production sound that filled up most of the acoustic
space on their recordings. 7 Directions sees the trio stripping the
arrangements back down to stark rhythms and haunting silences. It's the
sound of a band coming into its own.

What really distinguishes this new album, however, is Asif Illyas' newfound
confidence in his own words. His lyrics are full of striking images and
sharp observations. The subject matter ranges from the frankly
autobiographical (Microstorm) to the abstract and detached (A Day In Your
Life); in each case the music matches the lyrics perfectly. It's almost as
if the band has worked backwards to remove any excess of arrangement or
production to get to the absolute essence of each selection.

Asif is joined in the band by his bass-playing brother Shehab Illyas,
rounding out the full-time members of the group is percussionist/drummer
Adam Dowling who took on the role of executive producer in the making of 7
Directions. There's some other musicians on the album--ace session guitarist
Jamie Robinson, who often gigs live with the group--but for the most part
the disc was put together in the guy's bedroom studios by themselves with
the latest in computer recording technology.

And while 7 Directions sounds appropriately direct and intimate, it also
maintains an admirable widescreen sonic scope. There's a cool depth to the
sound that compares favourably with contemporary top-selling British groups
such as Radiohead, Coldplay and Starsailor.

Mir is managed in North American by longtime East Coast agent Andre
Bourgeois. The band has secured international representation and has
constructed an outstanding website which is located at www.MIRwebsite.com
7 Directions is available at most local music stores including Sam's
flagship outlet on Barrington Street in downtown Halifax. It comes highly
recommended indeed.

- Ron Foley Macdonald - Halifax Daily News, August 25, 2004

"Mir Added First Single To Disc At Last Minute"

Better late than never. After Mir wrapped up recording its latest album, had it
mastered in New York and manufactured, songwriter Asif Illyas was visited in
the night by anew song.

"I woke up one morning, went to the piano and started playing that riff,"
recalls Illyas, songwriter, singer and guitarist for the Halifax pop trio. "We
jammed it that afternoon.and thought it would sound really cool on the radio."

So the band quickly booked some time at Lakewind Studio in Cape Breton, raced
down and recorded and mixed So Perfect in a day and a half.

The track was sent to New York, and mastered to match the rest of the disc. That
visitor-in-the-night song is the band's first single off 7 Directions, and is
already charting on the radio and video stations across the country.

Three years after releasing its debut Invisible Science to critical praise, the
band returns with a new set of sparkling pop songs.

The creative cog in the band is 30-year-old songwriter Illyas. His brother
Shehab plays bass, and Adam Dowling anchors the band on drums.

Illyas' head is constantly filled with music. Not only does he write and arrange
for the recording, he composes music for the band's annual Mir Supershow,
arranged the strings for Gordie Sampson's exquisite recording of his song Paris
on the ECMA telecast, and even wrote the current theme music for CBC Radio's
Information Morning.

He brings a sweeping range of music into his composition, and bolstered this
project with more keyboards.

"When you write on the piano, you have all the notes of the orchestra in front
of you. So you have a broader sense of how things sound from bottom to top.

On Bitter Suite, the eclectic songwriter dredged up the sound of a Bulgarian
choir he'd heard once on a Kate Bush album.

"It was all these beautiful clashing harmonies," says Asif, smiling at the

Except this choir was all him, overdubbing his voice to replicate the sound of
Bulgarian harmony. Nothing is out of bounds - the challenge is to contain all
that music in concise pop songs.
"Writing pop songs is like painting picket signs," says Asif. "What can I write
that I'll be proud of carrying all day? It's a challenge to write everything in
31/2 minutes."

Mir is putting energy into developing a stronger Canadian presence. The band
signed with MapleNationwide to distribute the album, and have built a team in
this country to help promote their music.

"In the end, I think all the experiences we've gone through will shine through
in out music," explains Asif. "We're constantly in pursuit of summing up what
we've done through our music, not lyrically, but in the sound of the band."

- Sandy MacDonald - HFX Magazine, August 5, 2004

"Up For A Good Crash And Burn"

This Halifax trio has little to do with the Russian space station that was in orbit for over 15 years (in fact, they would say "absolutely nothing"). That notwithstanding, the separate musical genres that this pop rock group smoothly assemble could be compared to the space station's five docking ports, directing material straight to the heart of the operation. This effortless incorporation of seemingly disparate styles is likely a direct function of their city-scene experience.

"There's a scene here in Halifax, but because our music flows through several genres we're like the strange kid at the party," says multi-instrumentalist Asif Illyas on the phone from Halifax, where the band is preparing for a CD launch party prior to a live push through Canada. "We're friends with all of the people in the scene and we do a lot of shows with many different bands from here - from jam bands to the alternative scene. It's weird, but it's good because we're friends with everyone. It still is a little cliquey out here, but it's like that everywhere. Being in an environment like this has been good for us because there hasn't been a niche for us to fall into."

The group, formed by brothers Asif and Shehab Illyas (who were born in Sri Lanka, grew up in London, England, and then moved to Halifax in their teens), hooked up with drummer Adam Dowling before stomping across Germany throughout 2001 with their debut, Invisible Science. That disc garnered seven nominations, including Best Album, Best Single and Best Songwriting, at the East Coast Music Awards. Now back at home, the buzz builds around their latest disc, 7 Directions, and the rising single, So Perfect.

"It's been surprisingly smooth," says Asif. "The single has been doing well on radio out here and in some stations across the country. Our video got added to MTV Canada, and MuchMusic had it as their indie pick, so we're really thankful for all of the support we've already received. But mostly, we're looking forward to the live shows.
- Mitch Joel - The Hour, Montreal, August 11, 2004

"Mir, 7 Directions"

(AASH Records)

The international appeal of this local, sophisticated pop trio is neatly mirrored in this, their third release. Self-recorded and produced by Asif and Shehab Illyas and Adam Dowling, this disc is an excellent example of artists fully in control of the creative process from start to finish. 7 Directions is a fully realized, idealistic, pop-rock gem in these days of trite irony and calculated standoffishness, distinguished by a broad sonic palette and sincere, skilled vocals. A rarity, and a joy. - Sean MacGillivray - The Coast (Halifax), August 5, 2004

"Mir's latest landing. Innovative Halifax"

It took a while to get the gist of the title of 7 Directions, the latest CD from Halifax globo-pop trio Mir, whose long-awaited release is celebrated tonight at The Marquee Club.

First off there's north, south, east and west. That's four.

Then there's up and down, to add the third dimension. Any combination of those six will take you pretty much anywhere you want to go.

Listening to the CD, number seven gradually became apparent: inward. The songs created by Sri Lanka-born brothers Asif and Shehab Illyas and drummer Adam Dowling take the exploration of the world on the last CD, Invisible Science and turn it inside out, examining the effect of the outer world on the inner soul and psyche.

Gathering at the back of the Economy Shoe Shop to talk about the record and its launch, the three main Mir members - who'll be augmented tonight by guitarist Jamie Robinson - say the more personal approach to the songs on 7 Directions started out simply as a side effect of the way they were written.

"Over half of these songs are piano songs, and I find when I write on the piano the material feels closer somehow," explains Asif. "When I write on the guitar, I tend to write strummy, campfire songs."

Not that 7 Directions is a string of obtuse ballads, there are lots of driving pop tunes like the single So Perfect and The Pressure, but in the three-and-a-half years between records, Mir has learned even more about reaching out to listeners, and bringing them in through the veneer that often separates performer from audience.

"You have a kind of responsibility as a songwriter, because there's nothing more special about what I'm thinking than what somebody else walking down the street is thinking," says Asif. "It might be the exact same thing, but they might not have a forum to express those thoughts.

"Once you get the fun stuff out of the way, travelling and playing gigs, you have this forum to be able to say things, so I tried to put further depth into the lyrics, making it a little more self-reflective."

"It's like a bit of therapy," coos Dowling in a mock-soothing voice.

"It's true," laughs Asif. "Especially with some of the appalling things you see on TV. I finally got cable a year-and-a-half ago, and I'm consistently horrified.

"There's been this ongoing 'What the hell's going on in the world?' feeling for the past three years, and how can I reflect that lyrically? I mean, it was just six days after 9/11 that we went over to play a big German festival, and everything got cancelled, and the mood was quite dark there."

At the time of the World Trade Centre tragedy, Mir had recently signed a deal with German Warner Music subsidiary Eastwest, and after booking seats on one of the first flights out of Canada, the band arrived in Europe with no show to play, but they did manage to conduct interviews with lots of people willing to talk about the state of things.

"We went back the next summer for a really intense bunch of shows," Asif recalls, "but everything was still different, the whole vibe in the music scene, so there is definitely a chronicle in the lyrics of how we were feeling."

The personal response to global events is reflected in the sound as well as the lyrics, with Mir making the record more multi-textural and, like its earth-orbiting namesake, taking a look at the bigger picture.

Along with the strategic use of keyboards and strings, there's the reappearance of longtime collaborator Vineet Vyas's tabla on Microstorm, Swahili singing on Between Us, Bulgarian voices on Bitter Sweet and a sample of Ladysmith Black Mambazo on Suicide Letter No. 2. The record is a pop cultural mosaic, but far from patchwork.

"The trick was making it whole, the sum of its parts," says Dowling. "Not making things fit, but making it all come together into the record that we wanted to have."

"To have just the right amount of experimentation,"adds Shehab. "Contrary to the last disc, where we wanted people to leave the gigs with the album and think, 'Yeah, that's what I heard on stage.'

"Although with Invisible Science, there was a definite thread through the songs. If you put it in and hit the random button, then you'd really be in trouble."

With efficient distribution from Toronto's Maplemusic and management assists from Andre Bourgeois for North America and Lennart Krogoll for overseas, Mir is confident 7 Directions will be able to go where it needs to to find its audience. A trip back to Germany is planned for the end of the year, but first the band wants to make home a priority this time around.

"We want to do everything we can for Canada. The last time we put out the record, we played around here a few times, and then we were off to Europe," says Asif.

"Now we want to address this country with a little more care, because radio's been really great across Canada, and for the first time our video is in rotation on MTV and Much, we had an Indie Spotlight. It's a bit weird when yo - STEPHEN COOKE - Halifax Herald, July 31, 2004


2008 - OK2GO! (release date - September 16th)
2006 - What's Wrong With Being Sexy? (re-issue)
2006 - 7 Directions (European Release)
2005 - The Acoustic Record
2004 - Invisible Science MMIV (with new material)
2004 - 7 Directions
2000 - Invisible Science
1998 (EP) - What's Wrong With Being Sexy?



MIR is Asif Illyas, Shehab Illyas and Adam Dowling. The rock/pop trio is an ever-evolving blend of drums, guitar, piano and bass fusing innovative ideas with the core fundamentals of great pop music. Asif and Shehab were born in Sri Lanka, grew up in London, England, but have called Canada home for most of their lives. It was there they met Adam, and gelled instantly to form MIR.

The dynamic trio has always aimed to push the boundaries of current pop music. Their live show is a powerful experience not to miss. MIR's critically acclaimed recordings feature songs that are catchy, sweet, sad, sometimes simple, sometimes complex but never boring or predictable.

By appearing on compilations with Sting and Joni Mitchell, German MTV festivals with Macy Gray and Lenny Kravitz, a dynamic discography, multiple videos, raising a quarter of a million dollars for Tsunami Aid at a sold out 8500 seat arena, and performing with Canada's A-list acts at the Canada for Asia concert in Toronto, MIR has never sat idle - always pushing the envelope.

MIR's music is familliar yet not "cookie-cutter-music" for which many signed bands have been rewarded for. While not on purpose, MIR has remained unsigned and independent, but they have carved out a modus operandi that has become second nature to the band. This tenacity has made them one of the most successful fully indie acts in Canada, having their own label and studio as well as doing all their photos, print and web design themselves.

Without major label support, they have stalwartly forged a path for themselves towards a long career in the music industry; a feat not easy to accomplish in today's "drive-thru" music scene.

Their newest album, "OK2GO!" is set to be released on September 16th, 2008 and has already met with amazing response due to it's pre-release buzz. Songs from the CD have garnered wins and semi-finalist placements for VH-1's Song of the Year, Australian Songwriting Awards, Barack Obama's DNC CD, among others. The band has pioneered a new approach to pre-release promo by releasing one song a week for digital purchase ; Every week since May, one of the eighteen songs from the new CD has been released online and this will continue until the physical CD release of September 16th, 2008.

Please visit www.MIRwebsite.com to hear songs from the new CD and to find out more!

Visit MIR on MySpace - www.MySpace.com/MIRband