It’s a big show for the London-based duo of Dominic Maker (pictured above, left) and Kai Campos (right), for several reasons: it represents the first substantial airing of new material from their eagerly anticipated sophomore album, which will be released by Warp Records in the not too distant future, and will also see them unveiling their new approach to performance, aided and abetted by the addition of Tony Kus on percussion.
FACT spoke to Maker before final rehearsals for tonight’s show to hear more about how things have developed since Mount Kimbie stopped touring Crooks & Lovers, and to find out more about what we can expect from that upcoming Warp LP.
You’re about to play a big show tonight in London, showcasing material from your new album; and then you’re heading out on tour in the US. How has your set, and your approach to live performance, developed since you toured Crooks & Lovers?
“We were on a very hectic schedule with the touring of the last album, and as time progressed we tried to fine-tune the set that we had, and became more aware of what areas needed improving and what sort of atmosphere to create. Since we stopped touring that, we’ve obviously been back in the studio working away on the new album – and it felt like a natural point to not only start writing new stuff but also to look at the live show and think exactly what we want to achieve with it.
“Obviously [tonight]’s show is a very big one for us, because it’s an opportunity not only to show off the new material but also to try out this new method of doing things. The first major change is that we’ve got a really good friend of ours [Tony Kus] playing drums. We were quite scared at first at the idea of bringing somebody else into the live show, but as time’s gone on it’s felt more appropriate. So we’ve got live percussion. I think the main difference though is that we’ve tried really hard to get the right flow to the set, trying to make it maybe slightly less rigid than it was before. Obviously the introduction of the drums has freed up any sequenced parts that we had before, so it’s really opened up what possibilities we have in terms of putting a different twist on existing material, as as well as playing the new stuff – which is a lot more free than the songs from before, in terms of composition.
“There’s live bass guitar, more singing and stuff like that. It’s been really good fun really being a band [laughs]… taking some of the stuff that we’ve written, some of the basic loops we’ve written, and just really playing them out, working out where they go, in a more natural way. We’re really, really excited about the show and I think it’s going to give us a really good indication of where we want to go with live performance.”
Was the decision to bring the drummer in a difficult one to make?
“I guess it was quite a big decision, because all we’re used to is playing as a two-piece with our individual stations, and we’re really comfortable with the way that works. It does change how the show looks, and probably what people’s initial reaction will be. It’s slightly less orthodox than you might think. The main help is the fact that the drummer’s a good friend, so you’ve got that initial understanding…we were very cautious not to go down the route of just playing our songs with drums over the top, as if to detract attention from the fact that we’re not really doing much up there [laughs]. But as it turns out, we’ve had him in rehearsing and it feels really natural. The stuff that we’ve been writing recently is pretty far removed from what we’ve released before – it’s still entirely produced on a computer, but especially the drums and percussion are a lot more live in feel, in rhythm, and in the whole flow of it.
“It’s really early days to be analysing exactly what’s going on, but the drummer works really nicely in that the automation and the sequencing is still there, but there’s the addition of that unpredictable, human flow to it. And I guess always with the live show we’ve tried to make triggering samples and playing keyboards a bit more human than what it could be. And this is purely another step in that direction.”
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Has your previous experience of performing live impacted on the way that you’ve written and produced your new material?
“We came off tour and went straight into the studio. At first you’re just getting back to what you do as a hobby, you know? Which is really great fun. Because the guitar is being used so much in the live show, that was a natural thing to have lying around when we were writing, and just hearing the stuff that we have written with the new record it’s clear that it really is influenced by live performance. It’s always there, in the back of your mind – you need to be quite aware of where these songs are going in terms of the flow of them, and I think we’re writing more verse-chorus style music, I guess we’ve become more knowledgeable in that sort of area.”
And how does the new material actually sound?
“In terms of the actual sound…it’s quite a bit bigger sounding that what we’ve done before. I think it’s still quite delicate material, but it has a bigger sound compared to the last album, and I think that must be informed really greatly by what we’ve spent the last two years doing – playing live.
“We’ve actually gone into a studio, and that was a big step. Obviously at first so you’re sort of blinded by the fact that, yes, we’ve got a studio! Because that’s the dream, I guess. But as time goes on, I think we started to long for and miss the way that we did it before – just rolling out of bed and making music, and not having to worry about the logistics of it. It’s all become quite logistical, really…[laughs] But that’s to be expected, we wanted to approach this second album in a different way. It’s taken a little while to adapt – you know, having to get a bus to go to the studio to write, rather than just doing it. Overall though it’s been a great experience – it’s been interesting how it’s differed to the processes that we used for the first album. It’s nice having a studio that we both can go to, and I think we worked together a lot more on this album…it feels more like a full team effort. And that’s given both of us a bit more confidence to really push what we can achieve, to make what we really want to make, really going out there. The results should be pretty interesting.”