‘We both get excited by each other’s ideas’: An interview with Mount Kimbie

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On the night of their first UK show as part of their Autumn European show, I managed to have a quick chat with Mount Kimbie. They spoke about their recent North American tour, their critically acclaimed second album Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, and their collaboration with King Krule.

So, you’ve just finished your North American tour. Did you notice a difference between American and English crowds?

Kai: The crowds are quite different in every state so it’s hard to say generally. New York is probably quite similar to London. In general it was really positive. It was sometimes more intimate in terms of meeting people because a lot of people would have to drive a long way to come and see shows. 

I’ve heard that American crowds are often more vocal and enthusiastic. Is there any truth to that?

Kai: I think Americans tend to go to shows with quite an open mind. They don’t expect something in particular or have an idea in their head that ‘this is what this band are about’. 

You’re also about to embark on your European tour. Is there a particular city you’re looking forward to playing at?

Kai: We always enjoy ourselves whenever we play in Germany. The venues are really good and the people are really good. Looking forward to that. 

After the success of your first album, did you find it daunting to go back into the studio and record your second album Cold Spring Fault Less Youth

Kai: Well we’d had two years of not really writing any music. We really rinsed the last record in terms of touring, so I don’t think anyone really cared that much what we were doing when we went to record Cold Spring Fault Less Youth. It wasn’t really an option for us to even think back to the last record. We had a long period of time at the beginning where we couldn’t really figure out what we wanted to do. It took us a while for things to click into place. 

Were you glad that you gave yourself that breathing space between records?

Kai: Yeah definitely. I mean it wasn’t really a conscious decision, it just kind of happened that way. The first record had so much life in it that it allowed us to carry on touring for so long. I don’t think we’d like to do it again. I think the relationship between the first and second record is quite different to the relationship between second and third. I think it was good for us. We felt when we finished the first album that we’d finished working in that way . It was good to start afresh. 

On this album you collaborate with King Krule on two of the tracks. What was it about his music that attracted you to working with him?

Dom: I think we heard some of his songs on YouTube when he was working as Zoo Kid. They were great songs. It felt good to work with him. We went to go and see his show then emailed him after that; it was nice to work with him in the studio. 

Your video for the tack ‘Home Recording’ is really unique. Were you aware of Anthony Dickinson’s [the director]work before this video?

Kai: I’d seen a few things but only because our commissioner was really enthusiastic about some stuff that he’d done. I think I’d seen something before. It was more a case of having a chat with him and seeing what he wanted to do. He was very enthusiastic about this technique that he’d been thinking about and wanted a reason to use it. He’d built a machine that could replicate the same shot over and over again. When you work with someone you want them to be just as enthusiastic. 

Did you have much involvement in the video itself?

Kai: We wanted to avoid being too involved. We just worked on the treatment together and then literally after that we went away. 

On your blog you describe the video as having a ‘familiar but fictional reality’. Do you think this adds a new dimension to the song?

Kai: Yeah. When we were talking about what we wanted to do as a music video it made me realise that I’d never actually really watched a music video. So I felt a little bit out of my depth when talking about what I wanted to achieve from it. I’m really happy with everything visually. We wanted a change of aesthetic. In general we wanted a stronger, more concise image. We were slightly worried it would be too slow paced but people seem to have reacted really well. 

Do you use visuals in your live sets?

Dom: We’ve got a really good lighting guy. We use video from the song ‘Before I Move Off’ and slow it down. 

A lot of people use the word ‘ambient’ to describe your sound. Is this a sound you really strive to achieve or is it just the natural outcome of your writing process? 

Kai: There isn’t a plan of any kind. There is a feeling of where we want to go directionally but it isn’t something we talk about or prescribe to heavily. When you write your own stuff you don’t really think of it as being overly anything. The whole ‘ambient’ stuff tends to come afterwards

Do you ever disagree about directions that songs should go in?

Kai: We work quite a lot individually. The last four years has been fine working together. We both get excited by each other’s ideas. 

You’ve worked with several other artists. Is there anyone out there you’d love to collaborate with. 

Kai: We’re never really keen on the idea of collaboration in general. The experience with King Krule was very positive. I think generally it’s quite often the case that this person plus this person doesn’t equal the sum of. It can sometimes take away from their own work. I mean obviously I would like to work with Prince but I don’t think it would work. We were just touring with Jon Wayne, who was incredible to tour with and pretty inspirational so that would be something we would like to explore.

You can read the review of their gig here.

A more concise version of this interview can be found in Issue 4 of The Edge.

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Hi I'm Grace I risk sounding disgustingly cliched but I cannot remember a time when music wasn't part of my life. I love going to gigs and have been known to dabble in a bit of gigging and song writing myself.

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