SHK”s James Fletcher sits down with Kim Moyes of The Presets.

SHK: Kim, thanks for chatting with SHK. How are you today?

KIM MOYES: Yeah I’m pretty good, the tour has been going well.

You guys started on the West Coast. How has it been in California and how was the Treasure Island festival?

Yeah we played the Treasure Island Festival, which was really great. It was such a nice, perfect day. I don’t think I’ve been in San Francisco when the weather has been so beautiful and we were playing on the island with the cityscape behind us and you could see the Golden Gate Bridge. It couldn’t have been a better location. Also the line up was really cool. We got to see quite a few things that I’ve been quite curious about like Grimes, Tycho, SBTRKT… Public Enemy played as well. Our show was great, it was probably the biggest audience we’ve ever had, at least 10,000 people and we had a really good timeslot. We were second last. The night before that we played a little show, a warm up show at the Independent in San Fran with just 500 people and that was really great as well. So far the tour has been really good, hopefully the vibe continues.

Was that a surprise that you got such a big turn out, particularly at a festival show?

I think we were kind of more curious really. San Francisco has always been really good for us. We were kind of adopted pretty early on there with gay festivals, so I think we’ve always had a pretty strong following. I was curious to see how people were going to react to us playing, whether they weren’t going to come over to the stage or something, but the way the festival was set up was really cool with two stages. They alternated and were very close to each other so when one band finished then everyone just went over to the next stage. It was really good. We weren’t surprised, just really happy.

How was the Parklife tour back home? That tour was your first domestic performances for over a year, how did they go down? How did the crowd find the new material?

Yeah that was good too, really good. It was our first show back for this album and we hadn’t played any of the new material yet and so we gave it a really good airing and everything went down really well. Whenever you play new songs for the first time it’s not as familiar as “This Boy’s In Love” or “My People” are, but I remember when we first played those songs, they weren’t as familiar as “Are You The One” or “Down, Down, Down” so there is always a kind of learning curve for everybody. People were signing along to “Ghosts & Promises” and stuff so it was great. We were really happy with it. Just kicking goals mate, all day long [laughs].

Lets talk about Pacifica now, you guys must be pretty happy with how the release has gone. I’ve seen some pretty positive reviews. How has the reception been back home?

I think the album’s been really well received. It’s placed on the charts really well and the reviews we’ve been getting from different critics that we kind of fear, and admire, have been good. I think on that front it has been great. The climate is very different from when we did Apocalypso to now, so a lot of things have changed and we’ve sort of gone with it. We’ll get some good mileage out of this album for sure.

Were you a bit surprised by the success of Apocalypso? I remember it being a really significant record for my peer group and I really think one of those defining records that we’ll look back on down the track. “My People” is constantly on my party playlists.

I don’t think we’ve pleased everyone with this album [Pacifica], but I don’t think we pleased everyone with Apocalypso either. With the success of Apocalypso, we were just conscious of trying to establish ourselves creatively and artistically. The commercial aspect has never been something really on our agenda, it just happened with Apocalypso and — to be honest with you — it was a surprise for us. I don’t think we were under any illusions that we were gonna’ have a massive success with this album or try to recreate the commercial success of Apocalypso. What was really important was that we made music that we believed in and that we gave the fans something that we were really proud of creatively.

I think Pacifica is a really solid record. For me it feels like a good balance between Beams and Apocalypso. Tracks like “Youth In Trouble” would satisfy early fans, casino online but there is plenty of more melodic stuff like “It’s Cool” and “Fail Epic.” Do you think this is a fair assessment?

Yeah, totally. We were really trying to refine what we’ve been doing over the past few years. With Beams it was really punky and the songs on there had melodies that were very simplistic, but it was more about the delivery and attitude, and also the energy. Then with Apocalypso we started to get more into the melodic elements of song writing and tried to maintain the energy of Beams, but cut out the slop. This time around I think we just wanted to dial down the meathead aspect of The Presets, the really obvious sledgehammer music that’s jumping up and down to grab your attention. We wanted to dial that down a bit, smooth it out and make some music that was more inviting and less attention seeking. Maybe it’s just because we’re getting older, but we find that we really enjoy music where you have to involve yourself with it. Not music where you just put it on and it’s a no brainer. You have to let yourself be swept away by it and that was the idea with this record.

My favorite track is “Promises,” mainly because I’m a real sucker for ’80s style synth pop and vocal hooks. As soon as it started I knew I would love it. It has a real New Order feel for me. It feels like a track that you guys have always been capable of making, but do you think some fans will find it too stark a contrast to some of your heavier stuff?

For me it was one of three tracks that really defined the album when we were making it. Julian had sketched up an idea with that vocal hook in it and when I first heard it I said, “Oh man, give me this track. I really just want to just take that vocal and do something with it.” He’d written all of this other stuff but I really just wanted to pull that vocal thing out and focus on it. It really hits the heartstrings for me and it almost sounds like a classic hit. I don’t know if it will be a hit but I just live for those moments when you think, “Oh god, this is the music that I want to hear,” and it’s coming from us. So we’re really proud of that one in particular, for sure.

Let’s talk about “Ghosts,” the track really stands out for me. It has a real folk song/sea-shanty feel to it (I always think of pirates when listening to it…. But maybe that’s just me?). Was this intentionally a different tact for you guys? Were you conscious of making something quite distinct?

“Ghosts,” for us, had the same sort of excitement when we first started working on it as “My People” did when we first came up with that. I know they’re very different, but for us it was the combination of ideas in it that just sounds really fresh. That is what we live for. Hanging out to come up with these ideas, and we don’t really know where they come from. You can’t plan them and you can’t just sit there and say, “Right, what are we going to do, start a track at 140BPM with big 808 kick drums and then you sing a sea-shanty melody over the top,” [laughs]. It just sort of happened and we’re just like “holy shit!” It’s like a gift and we’re really proud of that. We just thought this is really fresh and it doesn’t sound like IDM, it doesn’t sound like 2007 electro. We’re pushing our boundaries further apart and just going there with what we can do with this band. It is really exciting.

You guys have just played New York as part of the CMJ Music Marathon. Have you played CMJ before? How is New York to play to? Is this one of the cities you guys look forward to especially?

It is always a highlight. New York is wonderful and we’ve got lots of friends there and we always have a good time. We played CMJ there when we were touring with The Rapture in 2007. It was a Halloween party at the Bowery Ballroom. We were looking forward to playing this time though because it was the biggest New York show we’ve ever done and the largest venue. We were worried it might just be a really big venue with nobody in it [laughs], but the turn out was good.

Don’t worry Kim, I enjoyed the show! CMJ is a festival like SXSW which is really built as a showcase for up-and-coming bands. How does it feel for you guys being quite established and being on the bill there?

It really feels good. It’s good that we’re still considered relevant and it’s flattering to have a really good spot at the top of the bill. I remember when we were first at SXSW and Goldfrapp was doing a show and Morrissey too, so I guess we’ve come of age and earned our place.

There are a lot of great Aussie acts on the U.S. scene now too like Kimbra, The Jezabels, Big Scary and Flume. It’s good to see some penetration from those guys in what is quite a tough market.

Yeah we’ve also got a few other guys. Jack Ladder is doing some stuff. There’s a great spread of Aussies and New Zealanders and CMJ was a great opportunity for those guys to come through.

Thanks for chatting with us Kim!

Thanks mate!

 

“Ghosts”

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