After meeting at university in London, duo Dom Maker and Kai Campos‘s Mount Kimbiehas been one of the breakout acts from the city’s fertile dubstep scene. Having initially joined their friend and sometime live band member James Blake in widening the minimalist dance genre’s spectrum with 2010 debut Crooks & Lovers, the pair have further embraced warmth and emotions on new record Cold Spring Fault Less Youth which came out this week (27 May). Released on the influential Warp label, the album mixes real instruments, bolder personalities and several guest contributions from highly-rated new singer-songwriter King Krule. Campos (left) explains why the duo are stepping out from behind their laptops.
How the devil are you?
“Very good. We’re on the way to the airport. No holidays this year, we’re going to Vienna for show.”
This is your first release for Warp, how did it feel when a label with their reputation came along and said ‘We’d like to sign you’?
“It’s good! When we were looking at our options and deciding whether to sign to a label at all, so we had to go into that not thinking: I brought all their records when I was younger! It’s great when we got the album sleeve back and it has their logo on it. It’s good to be part of something that’s been going on longer than I’ve been making music. It was difficult to play hardball with them during the negotiations though. [laughs]”
This record sounds a lot warmer than your debut, why do you think that is?
“The process was in some way quite different. We had a lot more freedom and time to follow every whim we had. There was lots of learning. In the two times we’ve done it, I’ve finished wanting to make a record again because there’s so much you learn. This one was a freer affair for us.”
Did the warmth come naturally or was that a conscious decision to be more human?
“We were attracted to using more analogue gear for a variety reasons. We were trying to let go of the micro-control that comes with making music on a computer. We didn’t want more mistakes, but analogue equipment doesn’t have the same managed sound. We did a lot of recording in a little studio we had for a year, and then we also popped down to Andy Ramsay’s studio. He drummed in Stereolab and he’s down the road from us. There was 30 year’s worth of gear, so it was a joy to plug in down there and use his knowledge too. Some of our stuff which was mixed down to tape too. Once it’s done you can’t go back! A couple of times we had to start all over again, otherwise or you just have to say it’s done. It’s a really healthy way to work.”
What is the attraction of analogue? Daft Punk have been talking recently about how you can’t get personality across via computer, was it a similar thing for you?
“I think it’s good to have an appreciation of both the analogue and digital ways of working. There were a couple of tracks we did digital mixes of which we thought sounded better, so one isn’t necessarily superior to the other. But making music with analogue gear seemed to give the tracks some sort of glue as all the disparate elements came together. It closes a few doors, which is not a bad thing. Once it’s done, it’s done, which is a strange thing if you’ve not been around that method of recording before.”
You’ve been described as bedroom producers in the past and now like a lot of your predecessors you’ve ended up in a studio with ‘real’ instruments. Does no one want to stay at home?
“I wouldn’t say that we’d never make a record again that used a more basic set up. That was a really exciting way to work and you can’t deny the creative possibilities it gives people, but we felt we’d exhausted what we wanted to say and how we were saying it on the first record. We’d been playing live a lot so that’s bound to have an influence. We haven’t played in bands or recorded in that way since we were 16. We spent a long time not knowing what we were doing, making bad music, but when you come out of that you’re all the better for it.”
But there’s no commuting if you work in your bedroom…
You have King Krule collaborating on a couple of tracks, how do you go about finding someone you trusted enough to be the ‘voice’ for your music?
“We were fairly adamant at the beginning that we didn’t want anyone to feature on the record. You put yourself in danger of just making music for other people to sing over – glorified backing tracks. We were going to carry on with the two of us and make a statement that way. It was only that we were so excited by what Archy [Marshall, Krule’s real name] was doing and the music he was putting out that we approached him. It felt a good fit. We had a chat and he was keen to hear what we were doing. He lives near our studio so he jumped on the bus and came down. He took away music we’d just started so we began structuring the songs together, writing around his voice. It was a really natural process. Hopefully we’ll carry on working together in some way in the future.”
Did you have a veto over what he could sing about?
“Oh, no. If anyone was going to be on the record they had to be there and involved in the whole process, not just signing in at the end. One of the reasons we thought we didn’t want other people involved was I thought I’d be telling them how to sing and what’s the point? It’s why we sang on the record more. So with Archy I didn’t see the point tell him what to do. I was confident it would be good, so the lyrical content is entirely him.”
Will it be easier to perform this album live now because of the way it was recorded?
“We have a drummer now, so it’s a lot more fluid live. We’re still learning. Hopefully by the end of this week we’ll be fantastic. [laughs] We started off in clubs, playing at two in the morning between DJs and it always felt we reset the entire evening, which worked for some people and not others. So we decided to play more tradition gigs a few years ago and that was a positive experience. We don’t necessarily fit into that world completely, so it about putting things into context.”
So you’ve got the frontman role sorted?
“No… but I’m getting better. I’m pretty bad at inter-song banter.”
Finally, you’ve been described as post-dubstep. Does it surprise you we’re ‘post’ that genre so soon after its emergence?
“That was around from the first record and it refers to a very small pallet of sounds. It’s a micro-genre. When this record comes out, hopefully that will be gone. It’s funny, everyone seems to love labelling music.”
For more head to Mountkimbie.com