If there’s a band that needs no introduction, it’s The Presets. And maybe Seal, but we’re no Seal-watchers. So we’ll stick to what we know, and we know The Presets.
We’ve got a history with the legendary Australian duo. They played our first-ever Check Yo Ponytail all the way back in 2006, before there were even iPhones and ShamWows, and a party or two since. We’ve been through everything with them; questionable haircuts, insane parties, MySpace … shit, we could go on. That’s why it’s an honor to have them headline our 2014 CYP ten year anniversary tour, which starts on October 26th.
But before we hit the road with them, we caught up with the constituent parts of the The Presets themselves; Kim Moyes and Julian Hamilton. We talk how far they’ve come since that 2006 show, crazy fan experiences, why dubstep is the most “meh” trend in EDM, and even dug up a few old family photos of the two for the sake of nostalgia and adorableness.
So, without further adieu, let’s get to know the band that’s about to slay the show.
Can you comment on the increasing “hardness” of electronic music? It started out so synth-y and groovy and has becoming increasingly harsh and mechanical with the popularization of dubstep. Your music has gotten a little bit of an harder edge this year as well, as we saw with “No Fun,” which is delightfully intense.
KIM: “Hard” dance music is not necessarily a new thing, and it’s not the main thing either, it’s just one facet of dance music. I listen to a ton of groovy music and it’s not going away anytime soon. As for The Presets, we have always made our fair share of “rocking” tracks, used distortion and slamming beats, but we like to do a variety of things; groovier feels, deeper moods and melancholy as well as our balls to the wall party jams.
That’s not to say though, that you haven’t done some more cerebral stuff. You collaborated with the Australian Chamber Orchestra for Timeline, which saw fans sitting down and being whisked away through 42,000 years of music history. Can we expect any of that influence at CYP? What’s it like to connect with your audience’s mind instead of just their bodies?
KIM: It’s important to us that our music feels undeniably good for bodies to move to, but has enough depth for your soul and mind to connect with it as well. We have always tried to put all our songs together in a seamless way to create a kind of journey. On this tour, expect a 10-year journey through the history of The Presets.
What do you think of dubstep? Is that ever a direction you see yourselves going in?
KIM: I think dubstep is perfectly fine and it’s cool that people get into it, like any other style of dance music. I can’t see us getting involved in it though. We like our music to move us in a different way than what dubstep has to offer.
In an interview you did with IDM, you said, “The coolest thing about electronic music has always been the detachment from the individual and from reality; the focus is centered on the experience of the event and the wider collective culture around it.” In what way does too much personality affect the EDM experience?
KIM: You can never have too much personality! What I meant when I said that quote was that the DIY culture around dance music is really exciting to me. For example, putting on parties, creating music, starting record labels – the DIY community of the underground is a really special and creative environment. It’s cool that dance music is so popular in the USA now. The parties and the festivals are bigger, the music reaches a wider audience. That’s a cool thing too.
You guys have won a ton of awards. Does any one in particular stand out as pivotal or most humbling for you?
KIM: We were the first electronic act to win Album of the Year at the Australian ARIA Awards. That’s our big music industry award. That was a huge honor and a milestone for Australian electronic music. We will always be humbled by that.
You’ve been asked a lot of if you ever get bad remixes of your songs, to which you’ve essentially replied, “Of course.” But we’re wondering; are there ever times in which someone else’s interpretation of your song shows you something new about it that you didn’t see at first?
KIM: Constantly. Sometimes we get a remix back and we think, “Damn, this is better than the original, why didn’t we think of this?”
You guys will also occasionally remix other people’s stuff. What qualities does someone else’s song need to have in order to be worthy of remixing?
KIM: It just needs to be a good song with something captivating in the vocal for us to be interested in remixing.
You played the first ever CYP way back in 2006 … which we dug up old family album photos for. If you could think of a caption for this photo of yourself with a quote about what that show was like, or what you guys were feeling like back in 2006, what would it be?
KIM: We were on tour for four months at that time, constantly crossing back and forth between the UK, Europe, and North America and picking up support tours with the likes of Soulwax, Ladytron, and The Rapture in between. It was a tough and crazy time. We had very little money. We would share hotel rooms and there was a lot of partying and a ton of good times. We met a hell of a lot of dear friends at too. It’s cliche to say but it was kind of magical.
JULIAN: Oh wow. Great hair. Cool shirt too. I want to be that guy again! Eight years later and my hair is definitely a little thinner but I think I still have the shirt floating around. Back then we were having so much fun. It was all pretty new to us – we were just rolling with it having a really great time. I can’t believe that was eight years ago!
You also played our SXSW show, Super Party, in 2012. What do you guys like about CYP events that keeps you coming back?
JULIAN: It’s always cool people and a great vibe – it’s kinda exactly the atmosphere we hope for when we make music.
We’ve seen a couple of previews of your stage visuals, and they look insane! Where did you guys get the idea for them?
JULIAN: Our friend Martin Phillips designed it for us. He is the lighting designer for a zillion bands like Daft Punk and Kanye, etc. We’ve been working with him for years. We always try to have some kind of stage or set built around us – so it’s a little more than just a band on stage with lights. So many stage shows these days are just a bunch of visuals on a USB stick that gets plugged into whatever screen is in the house. That’s cool, and works if you’re on a tight budget, but where we can we have always tried to create something a little more special and unique.
You’ve been dominating the scene for over 10 years. What’s left for you guys to try? What do you want to accomplish beyond establishment?
JULIAN: Oh that’s nice you say that. I’m not sure we’ve really been domination anything, but we’ve certainly been able to carve a nice career for ourselves making and playing music we like. That was always the main goal for us – and we have been very lucky to have achieved that. If we can keep doing that for a while then that would be fantastic.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you guys at or after a show?
JULIAN: There have been a few mean parties over the years – and I guess it’s expected that’s where crazy shit happens. But as far as shows go? Folsom St Fair in San Fransisco is always a fun one – naked dudes all running around wanking and whipping each other and shit. Then there was poor fan in Shanghai who fell off her bicycle whilst following us to various after parties. She had blood streaming all over her face and chin – a real wreck – but insisted on drinking with us, despite our please for her to go to the hospital, poor girl. I’ll also never forget the show we played in this Colombian jungle, where things were running late, and whilst we were setting up this balaclava wearing promoter (who had not yet met) went and stopped the DJ mid track, the crowd started cheering for us, and he pointed to the stage yelling at us and ordering us to play.
We’re super psyched to have you guys on the CYP Tour, but do you have any plans beyond that? Please say album, please say album.
JULIAN: Happy to say we are working away on album #4. Having a lot of fun doing it too. Still early days – but should be coming out next year some time.
Although you guys are very electro, you’ve got a lot of rock n’ roll elements going on. What aspect of rock are you guys attracted to? What do you borrow from rock to make your own music better?
JULIAN: When we first started, we would set up a drum kit and a couple of synths in a room and try these crazy synth covers of our favourite Midnight Oil or ACDC grooves. We always loved the excitement and energy of rock music, but also the sound of electronic music – so we tried to marry the two. Hopefully you can hear it in a song like “My People.”
You have such a unique sound. How much do you try to separate yourselves from others sonically? Does it come naturally, or do you guys do a little spying on other artists to make sure you’re not doing the same thing?
JULIAN: We don’t really make a conscious decision in the studio to try and sound different everything else – we just try to make stuff that feels cool to us. We don’t operate in a vacuum though. We certainly listen to other stuff all the time, and a lot of the time we really dig other people’s music and it influences what we do – but ultimately we are trying to get closer to personal style that feels and sounds like it can only come from us. So it’s nice when people say it sounds unique.
What do you think is next for EDM? What’ll be the next electronic trend to crop up?
JULIAN: I still don’t really know what Americans mean when they say EDM. It’s like deadmou5 and Bauer right? I think it’s the former, right? EDM is really just the pop music of today. In the past kids would drink beer and party and fist pump to metal hair bands like Motley Crew and Bon Jovi, now they’re doing that to SWM and deadmou5. The crowd in those old Bon Jovi videos seem the same to me as the crowd at these EDM festivals – just the soundtrack is different. Beyond being something to jump up and down to, I’m not that interested in EDM. But what has always been interesting is the styles and genres that pop up underneath.
Is there an question you always wished someone would ask you in interviews, but never did?
JULIAN: How about `Would you like a foot massage instead of me asking you questions?’
What can L.A. fans do to make sure your show here is the best one so far?
JULIAN: Just be rad – like they already are! We love playing LA. It’s usually our last show of the tour before we fly back to Australia. It’s always a nice feeling there – always been the coolest most diverse crowd. LA fans, I’m pretty sure if you just do what you normally do and be cool, then it will be our best show of the tour.
Come see The Presets and the rest of CYP
in a city, state, or universe near you.