The Presets Interview
Author: Andrew Weaver
Monday, 28 April 2008
Bringing back the bliss
No one is quite sure how it's happened, but the Presets have become one of the biggest groups in Australia - they're capable of headlining evenings at festivals, hosting raves that go until the wee hours, and now their second album, Apocalypso, is expected to debut atop the ARIA charts.
Kim Moyes, one of the two brains behind the group, admits he's feeling 'pretty good'. Only pretty good- You'd expect to be going better than that!
'It's mostly exciting,' he says of the lead-up to the release of the album, 'and it's mostly been pretty normal up 'til the point of the last couple of days when the pace of it all and the anticipation of it all is becoming very obvious. Sometimes excitement and nerves can be confused, and I'm pretty prone to being nervous most of the time-but I don't feel that nervous. I'm excited to see if people are going to like it as much as we like it.'
Apocalypso builds the experience the band had in the wake of their debut, Beams, and had a very different birth. 'The first time around there was really no time-frame for it,' Kim explains, 'and we hadn't really played live that much so we were still working stuff out.
We had less of an idea of what we were actually doing and did whatever we wanted, and then we did the album and then we've toured for a couple of years and really honed the skills down and had lots of experience of what works and what's really fun to play live and what really gets the crowd going.'
First single 'My People' is the perfect example of that - it's a natural dancefloor banger with an insistent and repetitive bass line as vocalist and co-producer Julian Hamilton exhorts the listener to higher and higher stratospheres of glee. It's an instant crowd-pleaser.
'In a lot of ways it's a 'mega-mix' of three or four Presets ideas,' he says of that particular tune, 'and it's a really glued-together, solid Presets [song]. It's very informed by the touring process and crowd reactions. Aside from that [the new album] differs in that our sound was maybe a little bit more scattered last time around, and we've nailed the ideas a bit better this time, whereas last time we were more concerned with mashing styles up - we had 'Are You the One-' which was a punk-house-Brazilian house punk song or 'Down Down Down' which was an electroclash sort of rock song, and then everything had these really weird bends in them, and some of the bends were really wide.
'This one,' Kim continues in explanation of where Apocalpyso is coming from, 'I think we were really focussed on direction. There's much more of a common thread in terms of techno - we were really concerned with our love of techno over the years and the idea of techno as a futuristic but with a retro-futurism.'
Funnily enough, the album definitely does draw comparisons to early Australian purveyors of the form, such as Itch-ee and Scratch-ee.
'We love that sort of stuff,' he enthuses, 'and [Itch-ee and Scatch-ee's] 'Sweetness and Light' was one of the first songs that Julian and I became really passionate over when we were at uni. I think with party techno and things that have happened over the years, and with a lot of our contemporaries, I think a lot of the emotion and real ecstatic feeling of that early rave stuff has kind of been forgotten or thought of as cheesy. All trance has really ruined that idea of uplifting, futuristic ecstasy, and we really wanted to bring that bliss back to what we did as well as the harder stuff.'
It's certainly a continuation of what the Presets were doing on Beams, but whereas that album gave the duo a profile, Apocalypso has the feel that it could propel the band into international stardom - it certainly sits quite comfortably alongside groups such as Tags