Published May 29, 2013With their second album, Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, just released, and a summer tour in its infancy, Mount Kimbie are leaving "no door closed" on the next step in their musical journey. Exclaim! caught up with Mount Kimbie's Domenic Maker by phone before their set at the Imagine Festival in Basel Switzerland.
You started your tour a couple of weeks ago. How does it feel to be touring the new record?
It feels really good. We've been playing the songs off of our old record for a while and having a whole new batch is really exciting and has refreshed the whole thing really. We've kind of added new elements to it in the live setting, to try and make songs slightly more appropriate, or highlighting certain parts of individual tracks. It's been a really great experience.
What are the new elements you've added to the live show?
We've been using the guitar and bass guitar a lot more now. We've got a drummer now who plays also plays bass guitar and does a bit of singing. So, it's just given us a little more freedom to explore and actually bring a lot more of ourselves to the front in a way. Concentrating on the vocal aspects and having that extra pair of hands has been great.
When you're adding those new elements to the live set, are you taking note of them and thinking about what you could do with them for the next record?
[Pause] Yeah, I don't know, not really thinking about it but we're certainly anxious to write new music now. We were in a really good vein of form in terms of writing just towards the end of the album process, whereas last time we gave ourselves a big gap of almost two years, not touching any sort of recording equipment at all. I think with this one, we've just really enjoyed the process and don't want to leave it as long this time. We're incorporating a lot of what we're learning now, through playing songs live.
You've been quoted as saying that a lot of things changed in your lives, your influences, during that gap. What specifically changed in that two years and how has it influenced the new record?
I think for a start, the sound that we achieved with Crooks and Lovers was at the time really exciting to us but, naturally we've sort of moved on from that. We just wanted to do something that was surprising to us and that we could feel that buzz around what we were doing again. I think it would have been really criminal to do an album that was in a similar vein to the one before. It wouldn't be true to what we want to do. I think a lot of it is down to the confidence we've gained, exposing what we're doing in the live setting, that's kind of filtered through to what we're doing on the production side of things. We're more willing to go bolder with our methods, so, using vocals and a bit more expression in using guitar and bass and stuff like that. It's been interesting speaking to interviewers who say "What do you think of the current musical landscape and how it's changed?" and we've been in such a bubble, you almost wonder where that last two years has gone.
Do you think being in that bubble helped you write the new record?
Yeah, definitely, a lot of what makes Mount Kimbie what it is, is the fact that we try to avoid being too concerned or using any of our, sort of, headspace or thinking about "what ifs?" and "where do we fit in?" and "what should we sound like?" I think we try to distance ourselves from it taking up too much of our preparation for going in to the studio.
There seems to be more of a rush to label things now and there's all these genres and sub-genres and sub-sub-genres that keep cropping up, you're often labeled as a "post-dubstep" band. What do you think about that?
[Laughs] Obviously it's quite important for some people to have a name for whatever is going on, but it does seem like a bit of a waste of time really. We certainly aren't thinking about it, and we hope that people listening to it aren't sort of thinking "Oh god where does this fit in?" as opposed to "Do I like this or not from within myself?" It's all about making flash decisions, you see so many people falling afoul of people having that power at their fingertips, with twitter and everything like that. I've done that myself with music, skipping through things on iTunes but it's not a very nice way of enjoying it. What is a very crucial part is that we leave no doors closed really, and we don't suggest an environment in which it should be listened to either, that's up to the person on the other side of the monitors to make their decision on that.
Vocals play a bigger part on this record compared to Crooks and Lovers. How does it feel to be singing both live and on the record?
We both had singing lessons recently, which was a really enlightening and enjoyable experience. Neither of us really knew anything about it before we went in there, so it's been good. I know that Kai [Campos, Mount Kimbie's other half] has been really enjoying it. I think the lyric writing process is a new challenge for us. That was really important for us, finding a new challenge, and to just go at it full. Singing on stage is great; it adds a bit more of a connection to the audience.
Have you and [album collaborator] King Krule been trading vocal tips?
For him, it's really more of a natural gift. We have got to work at it to make it happen. I mean, we learned a lot from how he writes lyrics, he came in to the studio and he had this melody idea for the two tracks he features on. It was less about trying to somehow write a story, but more about using the sounds of words as opposed to an entire meaning. For him it was such a natural thing, he just came in, put down a vocal and that was the direction the track was going to take. At the time we were only dealing with some 20-second loops and we were waiting for that extra level that he supplied and we're really really happy to have him on the record. We want to work with him way more in the future. One thing we were really cautious about, was just having a singer over the top who was just providing a voice, we wanted someone who could get immersed as much in the writing process as we were.