Mount Kimbie

 The duo have received a tasty critical reception, though the implication at times is towards a mildness that is almost insubstantial. A Pitchfork article alludes to the burp of plumbing. A big synthesizer sweep sounds like the air conditioner turning on”. An even kinder BBC review insinuates that Crooks & Lovers embodies that captivating quality of background music, likening the record to “gently drifting in and out of consciousness on a bus trip, only to be sporadically jolted back into consciousness”. Yet whilst the music certainly has an introspective quality the project has grown in compatibility to the live setting.

Dom Maker spoke with Fault from Berlin Festival 2011

Interview by Era Trieman

 

Mount Kimbie

Rather than asking how you came up with the name for this project, I’d rather know how accurately you feel Mount Kimbie conveys your sound.

D: Oh God! It’s certainly an interesting name, and quite different from other artists we are loosely related to musically. It’s such a bland series of events that led up to coming up with that name, mostly scrolling through itunes, so there is neither much background history or meaning behind it, but I feel proud of it in a way. There are times I love it, and also hate it.

What can you tell us about your time studying at the Southbank?

D: I actually recently received an email from them requesting that I come in to put a quote up on the wall, about your success and how it’s obviously related to the fact that you were enrolled at this university. It really wasn’t. I had a very very good time at Southbank in terms of meeting people and exploring London, the tutors were incredibly engaging, the courses I was not so keen on. I could say so many bad things but so many good things as well. I’m glad I got through it, I got a degree and have the opportunity to be in music. I wouldn’t have met Kai otherwise, so I guess there would be no Mount Kimbie without that university.

You mention how Maybes was released at an early stage. Looking back at the EPs that preceded the album, do you consider these ripe and fully-formed?

D: We’re still very fond of the naivety of the sound we had back then, completely in uncharted waters, not knowing what the hell we were doing, logistically and also musically. It’s very nostalgic to sit back and recount, we still extract a lot of the energy from those earlier tunes into our current material. Since day one it has always been a very quick process of learning and having to adapt, especially with the live show – we’re doing something that we never thought we would be, touring all over the place and performing our tracks live. It’s a style that has certainly infiltrated the recent album and it amounts to the starting blocks of everything we’ve been doing since.

How do you explain Hotflush’s awareness of your work and did you feel a sense of urgency from the label to put your material out?

D: We had no idea at the beginning, initially we didn’t know who Hotflush were until Scuba (aka Paul Rose) got in touch. Since then it’s been a gradual realization of how wicked a record label it is, we’ve shared a great relationship with those guys and Scuba’s been a real mentor to us, helping us through rough patches and being highly supportive of everything we attempt. It feels like sturdy backing, which a lot of our contemporaries, similarly trying to release EPs, have been struggling without. It’s either bigger labels coming in and being impersonal or difficult or the occasional lucky break with a label like Hotflush, Hessle Audio or Hemlock Recordings, very much from the heart kinda stuff.

Would you cite Boards of Canada’s Geogaddi as a seminal record? Are the comparisons founded?

D: Haha, actually no. I’ve never actually listened to Boards of Canada, neither has Kai. A lot of people have urged me to listen, but I’ve not gotten round to it. My brother is someone whose musical appreciation I really look up to, and he insists I’m a lunatic not to have given it a listen, so I will check it out. Apparently the live show was phenomenal as well.

 

In your field must one continually evolve their sound to keep up?

D: I think we’re in quite a difficult situation at the moment in that we’ve been labeled with this post-dubstep thing, all evolving from the original dubstep movement, though I personally don’t think we sound anything like dubstep but obviously there is major influence from that genre. Progression is something that one always strives for, and ought to come naturally, to us at the moment it makes sense to freshen up our work, it makes it more interesting and exciting for us. But looking back you see a trail of different styles that you’ve taken from, some things worked, others didn’t.

In what ways have Mount Kimbie and James Blake stylistically deviated?

D: I mean James is a different artist altogether, he is very much a performer and has been blessed with this incredible voice, iconic really. Having recently watched his live set, I’d say it was one of the greatest things I’d seen. Each individual musician within that band has his own talented. His ability is plain for all to see, he is happy to show everyone his aptitude for the piano, we are a lot more subdued and withdrawn and tend to mesh our tracks together into a sound-scape whereas he can break away from that and get away with presenting his recordings as individual songs in their own right. He is very approachable and I see him collaborating with just about anyone in the future.

You are renowned for an extensive use of live instrumentation, what motivated you to take this approach and how do you transfer the material from recordings to a live set?

D: We spent a lot of time working them out and trying to make them quite special live and different to watch. We had a dreadful time when Kai lost the hard-drive that contained the roots of every sound we’d ever made, so currently anything we’ve done since has involved us replicating the previous tracks from scratch, which has been difficult and limiting. There a certain tracks on the album that there is no way at all that we could even consider playing live, cause we simply don’t have the parts! But we’ve managed to muddle our way through this year of touring and we’re looking to step it up next time around.

Could you tell us a little about your use of field recordings? How could you exploit this technique?

D: It was pretty crucial at the time, we’ve done field recordings in tunnels and places like that, Kai actually said in one interview that he wanted to record the sound of clapping in a church and that’s where the idea came from. It is now a small part of what we do but it plays a major role in the whole feel of the record, little moments of sound that really change it from an electronic record to something more atmospheric.

Earlier this year you played SXSW and Coachella? How does the American audience reception compare to the European?

D: Surprising. It was really really good. SXSW was a baptism of fire, off a plane from Sydney into Texas, having never played that many shows in such a small window of time. We played around with the set and took a lot of influence from other artists we saw out there, it’s easily the best festival we’ve ever been to, probably will ever go to, but the crowds were brilliant. Beforehand we’d played a long US tour, about thirty dates, everywhere it was fantastically intimate, people really responding to the music.

Diving into the realms of speculation, where would you say the music industry would be today had it not been for the internet explosion?

D: Jesus. Clearly it would have been a lot harder to establish a name for yourself, perhaps looking at a quarter if not less of the artists out there today ever reaching that level of recognition. Earlier we did an interview with channel four, that to me is completely bizarre, that is the power of it. I regularly scour Myspace for people who haven’t been heard of yet, looking for new material, and the sheer amount of stuff out there is incredible. One such, who recently signed on R&S and mixed some of our tracks, is Klaus. To say he’s gonna be the next Burial is an awful thing to say, but he’s got the same kind of feel to his music, and the anonymity. The beauty of it is finding that people with no prior knowledge of a local scene could be creating something that is so relevant, for instance toured with an Australian group called Seekae, bloody awesome, they just killed it!!

Before I Move Off