A week ago I hit up The Presets at Terminal 5 for an interview and to check out their show. Catch the review of their live performance and news on what they will be up to in the future, what they plan on wearing for Halloween (sexy nurse anyone?) and their thoughts on the EDM surge in America and upcoming Techno album below!
Creating a live show experience for electronic music is never an easy feat. How do artists translate heavy use of synths, drum machines and the like into a performance other than the standard DJ set we have come to expect? Only a handful of artists have been able to make that connection to the live sphere successfully, and last week at Terminal 5 I was able to witness it first hand as The Presets completely blew the crowd away with style and a rock star vibe that isn’t often seen in EDM.
Starting off the night with an interesting combination of new (“Push” from Pacifica) and old (“Girl and The Sea” from Beams) The Presets donned the stage with a mix between live rock-like drums and vocals vs synths and drum machines. Completely recreating their music live is not easy for those who play traditional instruments, but I was dumbfounded as to how the two Aussies managed to play the drum tracks, trigger synth chords and sing vocal lines (and that crazy high falsetto!) with added repeats and effects while also building their songs and having everything sound beyond fantastic. Their set list bounced back and forth between new tracks off their recently released Pacifica like “Fall,” “Ghosts,” “Promises,” “Youth in Trouble,” “A.O.” and “Surrender” and their older (but equally as good) records Apocalypso and Beams.
Their live rendition of “If I Know You” was easily one of my favorite moments of the show. KIM descended from the drum kit stand and approached an amplified Xylophone and played out a beat as Julian sang and set up a bass line on his drum machine. It was insanely cool to see an instrument with a strikingly similar sound to a synth actually played live and accompanying the synth samples that were being triggered on stage by Julian. It was such a perfect example of how well these two blur the lines of electronic and live music to create a wholly original experience.
The rest of the concert was equally as thrilling, even getting into some deep, techy-house vibes with their live versions of “Are You The One,” “Fast Seconds” and “A. O.” Finally, they finished the night with a flourish with “Talk Like That,” making the crowd go crazy for each corus and proving that these two are definitely an act to keep an eye on.
GDD: We at GDD like to start off interviews by asking what is your favorite drink?
Julian: Favorite drink?
KIM: It’s so hard to choose one beverage above all the others…
Julian: Some drinks are great at certain times, but terrible at other times.
KIM: Beer is really best enjoyed in the morning..
GDD: Oh really? I don’t think I’ve ever tried it before, like, noon.
Julian: Yeah, it’s nuts…
KIM: Well if you just have one, in the morning, it’s really nice. Not everyday…
GDD: Haha, no it’s not an everyday sort of thing…
KIM: No, no…
Julian: ALL, I think you’re going to have to put all drinks. I mean Martinis are good, Bellinis are good…Champagne is good…
KIM: Sometimes water is just what you need…
Julian: Water is good.
GDD: Yeah…I mean, I don’t think you can live without water..
KIM: I don’t think I could live without Coca-Cola, unfortunately.
GDD: Really? I’m a Diet-Pepsi kind of person..
KIM: Very niche!
GDD: So you recently released “Pacifica,” and it has been acclaimed as sort of a new direction for The Presets and as step away from what you have done before. What was your goal when you set out to make the album and what are the differences that you see in this newest album and your previous two?
Julian: Well, we didn’t really try to step away that hard, you know? We just kinda keep making the stuff that we make. And I guess it’s kind of hard for us because, I mean you guys only see us every three years when an album comes out…but we’re always sort of noodling away and listening to music and talking about music. I guess for us this album just seemed like the next chapter in what we do. I mean, sure, maybe there is no “My People” on this record, and maybe there is a few more “Girl and The Sea” kind of things. But it still sort of feels like us to us, just sort of shifting around, but a lot of people have been saying that it feels like a real radical departure…
GDD: Yeah, that’s what we have sort of been getting the vibe of…
Julian: Yeah I think it’s just because there is no “My People.” As far as goals with this record… I don’t know, I think just trying to keep continuing doing what we are doing and catching what music comes out of us.
Julian: Just trying to get closer to finding what our honest voice is, you know?
GDD: Yeah, that’s great! I remember back in 2009 when you won an ARIA award you told Rolling Stone that you would happily make sure that the whole award experience was something that you didn’t have to go through again.
KIM: And we’ve been successful!
Julian: Haha yeah we’ve achieved that…
GDD: Do you still feel the same way, and what will you do if Pacifica is nominated for something?
KIM: We’ll be, we’ll be honored. I think at that particular night when that comment was said was kind of, like, a pretty shocking situation…rolling up on a red carpet with all these cameras. It was a bit terrifying..and then winning all the awards that we won, and having to get up and all that stuff. It was a bit scary and not really our natural habitat and we had to play that night, so we couldn’t eat food and get drunk…so it was a really awkward situation.
Julian: Quite stressful.
KIM: So I think that comment was made within the heat of the moment.
Julian: And picked up on to be forever….
GDD: Yeah, I think it’s just because it’s a step away from what most people want when they make it big…they want the celebrity status..
Julian: Yeah, well thats not anything we’ve ever really wanted. I mean, look at pop stars, they are really good at all of that stuff. They’re very good at wearing all the nice clothes and they’re funny whenever they interview and they’ve got good stories to talk about on television shows, you know what I mean? And we’re not really good at all that stuff, except just making music and putting on shows. With that being said you know, we roll with it, it wasn’t that bad.
GDD: Electronic music is really blowing up in america right now. Stage productions are getting larger and more impressive and the music is gaining more traction than ever before. How do you feel the sudden boost in the scene here has affected your careers? Have you noticed a marked difference in the American crowd?
KIM: Um, not really. I mean I think our audience is sort of the same audience as before and there is a few more of them coming to the shows and yeahhh… it hasn’t really affected us yet. It’s sort of still the early days too..
Julian: Yeah exactly, and another thing is that that whole explosion of “EDM…” I don’t know, we feel a tiny bit of part of that, but not super exactly that, you know? Yeah so, it’s been interesting to watch it from afar. We remember when we would tour here when we were young and would wonder why there was no dance music, despite from the obvious Detroit Techno and amazing music that we really love. But we wonder why it hadn’t been picked up on in a huge way, the same way it always has been in Europe, you know? Um, but yeah, little did we know that 10 years later we would be here and it’s really been picked up, big time.
GDD:You’re both parents now too!
GDD: How has starting a family impacted the way you tour and create music?
Julian: It’s definitely made touring, now you know, we don’t want to spend so much time on the road. So we are trying to use more precision with our touring. Um as far as effecting making the music, I guess, not really. I mean, clearly having a kid changes your day to day life, as it does everyone. But, music was always kind of our day job anyway, um so it’s not, we still go to work and do our day job. Still make tunes and just try to remember what it was like going to nightclubs…
GDD: Well you’re about halfway through your North American tour, has anything super ridiculous or amazing happened so far?
KIM: No, no nothing on either extremes. It’s been pretty, like, civilized and normal and pleasant and very enjoyable, actually.
Julian: Yeah I mean the shows have been great! They are getting more and more amazing. I mean Treasure Island, being one of the headlining acts at Treasure Island was really fun. And then we played on a Monday night in Vancouver, not sure what to expect, but it was one of the most fun shows in a long time. So yeah, you know there are always nice moments. But beyond that it’s kind of just hotel rooms and playing and that kind of stuff.
GDD: In the past you have gotten a lot of press for somewhat controversial, sexually ambiguous themes in the media that you release. Have you received any of the same criticism for your most recent video for “Ghosts?”
KIM: Not really, yeah…not really. I mean I guess. No, funny isn’t it? I mean there’s not as much sexuality going on…I mean there is a couple of cute teenage girls…
KIM: But it’s not really…it’s a different thing.
Julian: I think it’s funny like, sexuality and stuff is where you find it, you know? And a lot of people were saying about the “This Boy’s in Love” video with the two guys fighting in milk…but why bring sexual overtones to it? It you wanted to interpret it that way…and we kind of didn’t, although we can see how it could [be interpreted that way]. But I haven’t heard anyone say anything about all these hot divers in speedos. But yeah it’s all good, if people sort of think that those kind of things are sexy then…they can say it. I mean they are some hot divers tho! Divers are probably some of the hottest specimens, you know.
GDD: Yeahh..I mean their body is so perfectly…
Julian: Achieved and ripped and aerodynamic…
GDD: We saw that you’ll be playing our friends’ Halloween event in LA at the Vanguard on the 26th. Do you have your costumes picked out yet?
KIM: Err, no…one of these days off we’ll have to kind of adventure out and figure it out for sure.
GDD: New York has a lot of great costume shops, just sayin..
Julian: And a lot of really bad ones! Where are the good ones??
GDD: I live down on the Lower East side, so there is one or two down there that I enjoy, but you find some gems in the bad ones!
Julian: Yeah you do, yeah. Pick up a “sexy nurse.” [laughs]
GDD: I think your fans would appreciate that. [laughter]
GDD: Alright what is next for you guys after this touring stops? Back to the studio for another album?
KIM: Yeah we are going back to the studio, we’re going to sort of start putting together like a Presets sort of Techno set. Like a little bit more electronic, I think. Something that will fit into an EDM festival.
GDD: Ah, so THEN you’ll be affected..
KIM: Ahh, so EDM has impacted our career! You know we are just going to try and put something together, yeah a bit more DJ orientated…and yeah we will see where it goes.
GDD: Great well hopefully the next time I see you guys you’ll be headlining Electric Zoo! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat!
Julian: Oh, it was a pleasure!
KIM: Yes thank you!