Mount Kimbie – Deep in the Peaks

It’s a chilly October night outside, but inside Manchester’s legendary Band On The Wall it’s baking hot. A building steeped in historic performances, it re-opened its doors after a lengthy closure, multi-million pound expansion and refurb, re-emerging as the live venue of choice for discerning ears.

On this particular evening In The City, the UK’s largest new music conference, had been using the space and soundsystem to showcase several acts of a speaker-challenging nature. After the heavy, glitch-happy, staccato madness of Becoming Real– a producer you’re bound to hear more from in the future, Worried About Satan dazzled us with their melodic dub leaning tech vibes. Then the much-hyped D/R/U/G/S kicked in, and did what they do remarkably well.

Three decent acts, and several pints later it was time for the main attraction. Their debut LP, Crooks & Lovers, was released earlier this year, and received staggering acclaim courtesy of everyone from the broadsheets to bloggers. Which is no surprise really, given the fact many a critic has positioned them if not next to, then near just about every other hard-to-pigeonhole producer or DJ from the highly popular world of ‘intelligent UK bass music’, or something along those lines

That Mount Kimbie’s sound isn’t club focused is, apparently, irrelevant. They sell out basements like they pack out bars. And their live show- incorporating everything from guitars to sequencers- is something everyone has been talking about. In a few hours  time it will become clear this is one performance worth staying out on a school night for. But staying in the here and now, we were delighted they managed to find time to talk to us before the taking to the stage. With beers in the fridge and the bass reverberating from upstairs, we asked Dominic Maker and Kai Campos to reflect on where they have got to…

P&S: In the 20 months since Mount Kimbie’s first release a lot has changed for you. What do you make of it all?

DM: “Yeah, really, really pleased. We’re really pleased at the response to the album. It was good to be able to then go on tour, and do the live show, because one of the main things for me was that people knew our songs. We’d toured for quite a while without anyone knowing the songs- at that point they were all just album work. So it’s been great.

KC: “It’s been amazingly quick, much to our surprise. And, erm, yeah, incredible really, the things that have happened for us in the last year and a half. Just the fact that people are interested in this stuff is amazing. The record was a strange one, it was so much more difficult a process than I thought it would be. We had to let go a bit, and accept it had to be ready, and say it was ready to be released, so it was something we were both really nervous about it.”

Your new EP, Blind Night Errand is out imminently. Why release a collection of remixes and album tracks?

KC: “It was, I guess, we didn’t feel the need to get any remixes done of the album tracks at the time they were made. The William remix had been knocking about for a while, and I kind of dragged it off the hard drive for the Resident Advisor podcast, and then finished it.

I’d always thought originally that I’d like to do a release of some others too. There was a version of Maybes kind of half done, which was in a similar vein, but I wanted to take the songs that we had done, and do them at 140 [BPM], as a kind of acknowledgement that that particular tempo had been a massive influence on us, even if we weren’t writing stuff like that at the time.

The new version of Maybes was recorded at Berghain, Berlin. How was the gig? And will you now be joining the UK diaspora by relocating there?

KC: “The gig was amazing. As people who have influences that go beyond, and often aren’t dance music, to go kind of as far as possible into that scene was really interesting. We played the main room basically, and it was very nice to play there!

In terms of Berlin, I mean, we were there in February, stayed for about a week, and it’s pretty much the best city I have ever been to in my entire life. So we’re certainly exploring the idea of spending more time there, perhaps when we’re recording next. And it’s not just because of the nightlife either.”

No, it would be because of the cheap rent, surely?

KC: “Yeah, absolutely that’s part of it. If we could have all the space to keep our equipment in, and be able to live somewhere else that would be amazing. And it doesn’t even have to be like a really expensive studio or anything, just a room really. We can’t even afford that in London.”

DM: “That’s it. With the practicalities as they are you just can’t really turn your nose up at the whole idea of it.”

Back on home turf, and your names are often uttered in the same sentence as people like James Blake, the Hessle Audio guys and other dubstep-not-dubsteppers. Is that a fair judgement?

DM: “We’re definitely affiliated with some of that crowd, yeah. We like that, that’s the kind of stuff we like to listen to, and we respect these guys that always seem to do something interesting and new, or even just make older sounds fresh again.

We don’t really spend that much time with bands, but I do feel that, not only can we be linked with that crowd, but the show has several sides to it, so can also be added to a band lineup. It’s quite nice to be in that position, and I think maybe James Blake is also in that position again, where he has the desire to play things live, and do a proper live show.

KC: “I really don’t see a problem in being clubbed together with the people you’re talking about either. Because even though we are, there’s really no defining features of what could be perceived as some kind of off-shoot of dubstep or whatever.”

You’ve dabbled to varying degrees in both, but do you prefer original production, or remix work?

KC: “They’re totally different things. But I don’t think you will ever get quite as much satisfaction from remixing. But then it’s great to give someone something they’re really happy with too, though it’s probably not the kind of thing you’re going to look back on in 20 years time so much.

Then why remix you’re own work, as you did with William– weren’t you happy with the original?

KC: “No it comes from me just playing around with some new equipment, and we didn’t have any samples on it, so I just put some of these on… and the amount of times we’ve actually sampled our own tunes is actually shameful anyway, so it was just an average action really!

DM: “It’s quite nice to work with something familiar. It wasn’t like we thought that’s the track that needs to be reworked after trawling through loads of stuff. We just put it on really.”

KC: “Yeah, it felt fresh as well. So we thought it was worthy of finishing separately. The one on the record is actually quite different from the original.

So when can we expect to hear some new, original material from you?

KC: “God knows.

DM: “I think we’re waiting on that one ourselves, so we’ll have to see. It’s positive and negative- the fact that we’re always away. On one hand, we struggle to find time to get into the studio, but then it has built us up in terms of having new ideas, through seeing new people all the time and experiencing new places.”

KC: “It’s good to get out of the studio, too. So when I go back in there are just so many ideas, and everything’s all fresh- like we’ve almost forgotten all the little habits we get into. It’s nice to have the ideas in your head, and not execute them straight away.”

Have you found a difference between what you thought sounded good in the studio, and what sounds right in a club, now you’ve been touring quite a bit?

DM: There’s actually quite a bit of material we haven’t released yet, and stuff that’s been done quite recently, in the show we’ve got lined up tonight. And it’s kind of the same problem with producing new stuff. We included these while we had a bit of time to practice, and stuff like that, so when we play them we’re constantly thinking about how we can improve it.

That in itself is a good thing, because we’ve got the bare bones of something, and we think it sounds great when we’re sound checking. We shouldn’t forget that we do put a lot of time and effort into improving and adding to the live show, so in the future we should take a step back, and take that which we’ve made in the live show and put it in the studio to work on there.”

KC: “It’s really funny, actually, because in terms of club soundsystems, I have often thought how come you never really hear any of our tunes out. And then I realised, it’s because they don’t actually sound that good on a system like that. So it has crossed my mind, as we’ve played out more and more, and done so many different shows this year.

“But it’s something I probably care less and less about now, than I did say a year ago. If anything, I want the live show to become even more of a spectacle, and get weirder, and further removed from other stuff.”

DM: “And that’s definitely something about it. The live show is so important to us, it’s one of the only places you can hear some Mount Kimbie outside of your bedroom- and that’s good, because sometimes, you hear a great tune, and you know it’s going to get played everywhere you go.

So it really is all about making a gig into something that is really special, not just listening to our tunes played over a system. It should be something separate to any of the production releases we’ve done.”

If you’re now wondering exactly what happens when they take to the stage, then we suggest you check them out for yourself. But, in the meantime, perhaps this will keep you interested. It’s the only gig footage we could find with decent sound quality, so appreciate, and enjoy.

Mount Kimbie release the Blind Night Errand EP November 29th, on Hot Flush.



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