Interview: Mount Kimbie
Published on September 16th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
If there’s one thing that everyone seems to agree on, it’s that Mount Kimbie’s recent second album Cold Spring Fault Less Youth is one of 2013’s finest albums, electronic or otherwise.
Yes, everyone: Rocksucker, your Aunt Beryl, the Pope…everyone. We can’t provide you with quotes from the latter two, but you may consult our four-quail review.
We caught up with Kai Campos, one half of Mount Kimbie alongside Dominic Maker, for a jolly good chinwag about their latest triumph.
Incidentally, Kai was speaking to Rocksucker having just gone through airport security on the way to Montenegro…
(Over the phone, obviously. We don’t book holidays together.)
What have been your summer festival highlights?
It’s been weird. I definitely think we got to a point on the last touring cycle where we were having a really good show every single show, whereas this time we’ve been trying out new stuff and we have another member, so it’s been back to the drawing board a bit.
We’ve had to learn a lot of stuff again but there have been a few times where it’s all come together. I think we’ll remember Pukkelpop a few weeks ago. You never know who you’re going to clash with at festivals, but everything fell into place at Pukkelpop. It was amazing.
When you say you’ve been trying out new stuff, do you mean new material or new facets to your live show?
We’re still learning some parts of the latest record, really, and working with a new person. We’ve been trying out little bits of new material as well.
Who’s the new member?
Tony Kus, our jack-of-all-trades drummer/bassist.
You did bits of drums and bass yourselves on the album. Were those instruments you already knew how to play or did you have to do a spot of learning?
Yeah, drums was the first instrument I learned, and I’ve picked up other things along the way. It was just a case of getting back into practice as I hadn’t really practised drums in a few years. It was good fun, actually.
You’ve said that you weren’t signed to a label during the making of Cold Spring Fault Less Youth. Do you think that affected the overall sound in any way, perhaps with regards the extra freedom or any added motivation to make it something special?
I guess it was during the process that Warp signed it. They hadn’t heard anything and it was so unfinished that we didn’t want to give the wrong impression. At that stage we weren’t sure where it was going.
It felt a bit weird in the beginning because I’m not somebody that wanted to know the plan for it. We felt pretty free throughout the whole process in terms of what we were doing, and I guess that the process of making the record led to the decision about the record label more than the other way round.
Did one of you suggest doing vocals for it before the other? Was it a case of “I’ll do it if you do it”?
There are some vocals on the first EP we did, so it’s always been there, just not as prominently. I guess the songs that we were writing for this record naturally had a bit more space for more a more prominent kind of ‘pop’ vocal, which is what we were doing with them live when we were trying to figure out how to finish them.
I think “Home Recording”, the first track on the album, was the first one that we decided was definitely going to have a vocal.
Who did the video for “Home Recording”?
A guy called Anthony Dickenson. We met up with him a while ago and he’d started using this mechanism that allowed him to replicate exactly the same shot over and over again in different locations.
I’m sure you’ve been asked this, but where did the title Cold Spring Fault Less Youth come from?
We were quite near the end of the process and we were looking back at what we’d done, trying to make sense of it I guess, trying to come up with some ideas about what would be an appropriate thing to call it.
It’s quite a disjointed record, coming from lots of different places and with a broad palette of sounds, so we started writing down words that felt almost like chapter headings.
We started moving around the order of them, like those fridge magnets you get. It doesn’t have one particular meaning, it’s just a set of imagery coming together.
One of my favourite things about your sound is the cross-sensory element to it, that you get sounds that could be described as ‘crinkly’ or ‘fizzy’ or whatnot. Do you ever speak to each other in roughly these sorts of terms while in the studio?
We don’t talk too much in the studio! If we’re agreeing on something then it’s more often a knowing look. We try to avoid planning out what we’re going to do and how the track will sound; I think that limits you a little bit.
I think the reason we work well together is that we haven’t had to talk too much about it too much. We kind of know how to set about aiming for something in a similar sort of aesthetic.
You did some recording at the studio of former Stereolab drummer Andy Ramsay. What kind of equipment was there?
He had a nice kind of pretty standard setup, but he’s got a fantastic collection of quite rare drum machines, ones that I’d never even heard of or seen before. We spent quite a lot of time messing around with those.
The more excited we got about it, the more he kept dragging out another one. He was talking about a time in Stereolab where he felt like he wanted to diversify his role, so he was getting more into technology and drum machines, stuff like that.
It was great to have that history within these machines and have access to that, so we did quite a lot of recording using drum machines from that studio, quite a lot of which we haven’t really used yet. We got hours and hours of recording from it.
What did you think of the King Krule album?
I thought it was fantastic. Archy can be a difficult man to get hold of so I hadn’t heard it until it was up on the NPR website. I didn’t know what to expect, but I listened to it three or four times in a row and I thought it was brilliant.
You have to live with it for a couple of weeks, I guess; it’s really interesting texturally and in terms of songwriting. I love the last track, the piano track.
Have you given much thought yet to the next Mount Kimbie album?
Not really. We’ve got quite an intense period of touring coming up, but we’re going to try and write a bit more on the road than we have over the last few years. I felt like we were in a rich vein of form when we finished the record, it was just a question of timing that we had to stop and start promoting it.
We’ve got a few more bits an pieces since the completion of the record but we’re not trying to think too much about the next album. I tend to get in a hot patch for three or four weeks, so if I can harness that then that will be the ideal time for it.
Finally, which other albums from 2013 have you enjoyed?
I wasn’t listening to much music while we were making our record, but I really love James Blake‘s record. It’s a great realisation of a lot of ideas.
Other than people I’m close friends with, I can’t think of any. I’m terrible at being put on the spot like this!
Kai Campos, thank you.
Cold Spring Fault Less Youth is out now on Warp Records.