Thanks for allowing the opportunity for this quick chat ahead of Rocking The Daisies and Vodacom in the City 2014. We’re damn excited and we hope you are too.
MCBN: You’re headlining the Rocking The Daisies Electronic Stage or as we like to call it, the Rave Cave and Vodacom in the City Stage. Can you let us know what we can expect from your first ever South African performance?
Can I first of all start by saying how excited we are to come to South Africa! Obviously it’s our first time in SA and it’s also our first time on the continent of Africa, we are thrilled to be joining you guys. What to expect… we have a full live show with a custom designed lighting set up that features a series of hexagons that someone cheekily dubbed “the SEXAGONS”. We play live electronic instruments and try as much as possible to give a full throttled, balls to the wall live Techno experience. If all goes well then we should see the crowd losing the plot with us providing the soundtrack.
MCBN: Can you tell us how the two of you met way back in 1995? How did the roads lead to where you are now and how have you enjoyed the journey?
It’s been an incredible journey. Jules and I met at the Sydney Conservatorium Music where we were both studying music degrees. We quickly became friends over music we liked to listen too outside of our studies. I distinctly remember playing Julian a copy of “Da Funk” by Daft Punk that I had tapped off a community radio station; this was before Daft Punk was enormous. So we really forged our friendship over things like that. We would study classical music like Bach and Xenakis in the day time and then spend out evenings going to clubs and losing our minds to Acid House, Techno and Electro. I started a band around this time called Prop with some other percussionist friends and Julian joined shorty after. Prop lasted until the early 2000’s and around that time Jules and I started writing material that wasn’t really fitting in with the Prop repertoire, so we decided to form a new band and call it the Presets. We made a demo and sent it to 2 record labels, one being Modular who signed us.
MCBN: Will we be hearing a range of your early stuff with a hit of new material or vice versa or what can we expect?
We will play all the big tunes from our 10 year history, including new ones. We like to rework and remix a lot of our material, especially the older stuff so we can mix it together with the new stuff and maintain the energy. So you might hear an older song you love but presented in a slightly different way.
MCBN: You were the first electronic act to win “Album of the Year” at the ARIA Music Awards for Apocalypso. How did that award make you feel after all your hard work you’ve put into your career?
It was an incredible honour; we were totally overwhelmed by winning that specific award. We feel like we were a part of a wave of bands around that time that have really legitimised Dance and Electronic music in Australia. Looking at the music landscape here in Aus now and it is vastly electronic.
MCBN: Who has been your favourite artist to collaborate with since you began The Presets?
We haven’t really collaborated with that many artists as “The Presets”, but we are fortunate enough to have had some amazing remix artists reinterpret our material. On a personal front I have been fortunate enough to be able to make records for some really talented Australian Artists like Kirin J Callinan and Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders, both of whom are very different to the Presets style of music but very excellent in their own right
MCBN: You’ve played all around the globe, at all the biggest festivals in the world, what has been your favourite show, if one, that sticks out in your mind?
That’s true we have played all over the world in many different contexts, from tiny restaurant bars in Cleveland, Ohio to massive crowds at the Christopher St Parade in Berlin and everything in between. The one show that sticks out in my mind was a benefit concert we played that was in aid of the devastating Victorian bushfires of 2008/09. The concert was held at the Sydney Cricket Ground with many accomplished acts on the bill like Coldplay, Icehouse (among others) but it seemed that everyone was waiting to see us. When we played the heavens opened and you could not have witnessed a more crazier or happy crowd.
MCBN: This next question is more of a follow on to the previous question we’d love to know. Do you prefer playing to massive crowds of thousands and thousands of party goers or do you enjoy the intimate crowds more?
Both types of gigs have there pros and cons. It’s easier to whip up frenzy in a smaller room when the energy contained within four walls and you and the crowd are face to face, but if a massive festival crowd is eating out of your hands and jumping up and down in sync after a massive build-up that can be quite something.
MCBN: You have always had a very unique and distinctive sound throughout your careers, which were your influences in the early stages of your career and which musicians do you look up to and regard as artists who have done great work for the Electronic Music scene?
Biggest influences for us as the Presets were and still are Daft Punk and The Chemical Brothers. Early on our mission statement was to cross-pollinate AC/DC with Basement Jaxx. Then of course you start making the music and you just want to be yourself as much as possible
MCBN: Before you began working on The Presets, you were involved with another Electronic Music project, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Our band before the Presets was “Prop”. It was a 5 piece band whose focus was mainly on improvisation over loose song structures. The instrumentation was Vibraphone, Marimba, Rhodes/Synths, Bass and Drums. We released 2 albums called “Small Craft, Rough Sea” and “Cook, Cut, Damage, Destroy”, the latter being a remix album of the first album (which contains the first ever Presets music, a remix for Prop called “Bloodbubbles”)
MCBN: South Africa has an extremely fast growing electronic music scene; do you know any artists down this side? Have you heard of any South Africa artists who have made waves overseas or in any of your music players?
Other than Die Antword and DJ Mujava I am unfortunately a little naive when it comes to modern South African music, I really need some tips though! Please feel free to point me in the right direction.
MCBN: Thanks for chatting; we’re looking forward to the Rave Cave at Rocking The Daisies and Vodacom in the City