Photo: Ben Sullivan
The Presets’ Kim Moyes is at his home studio in Sydney contemplating the creative process and how it applied it to their new album, HI VIZ. The five-time-ARIA-Award-winning band he has fronted with Julian Hamilton for 15 years are at a point in their career where they’re not putting out albums because it’s ‘time’ to do so, or because it’s part of the album/tour/album/tour cycle.
It’s simply because they do it when they want to.
“I think Apocalypso was the last album we put out because the cycle demanded it,” he says of the band’s second album, released in 2008. “The last album and certainly this album we took our sweet time making it because… God, in a perfect world we would have smashed it out.
“Well first of all with Pacifica (2012) we needed a bit of space after Apocalypso because the lead-up to that one and what came before it meant we hadn’t stopped in five or six years. So we did take a bit of time away from the band. Not long, but a bit of time away before we got back into the studio to work together. Then that album just ended up taking a lot longer than we’d anticipated.”
And it follows on – there is indeed six years between Pacifica and HI VIZ – but for good reasons, including 18-month stretches of touring and finding the time to come up with new material that ranks alongside or above the considerable back catalogue.
“You’re constantly active but you might not be out there releasing stuff,” Moyes explains. “Certainly, between Pacifica and HI VIZ we were doing all sorts of projects and were really busy. You just can’t really force it. I guess we’re the sort of band where it’s just not really a question of writing a couple of songs on a guitar and finding out how to play it. We really have to live with the foundation and live with the aesthetics and do a lot of production in order to make these songs stand on their own two legs.
“It’s pretty time-consuming and we’ve found the more that we learn about electronic music and our craft, the harder it is to be original. And to actually make the voice of The Presets something we can live with for a longer period of time. It’s very easy to get into the studio and be there one day and go, ‘I want to make a song like this’, or ‘let’s make a song like XXX’ but at the end of the day if you come out of the studio and there’s no magic in it then there’s really no point in pursuing it because all things going well we’ll be playing this music hopefully for years to come and it needs to really retain a strong sense of identity and magic for us to pull it off for any extended periods of time.”
Daniel Johns commented during his recent Denton interview that he’s better at making music when things are broken, when he’s out of a comfort zone. It’s as though there’s no spark in comfort.
“The unknown quantity,” Moyes echoes. “I understand what he means. Take My People, for instance. That was a monster hit for us and like a quintessential track where if you were to ask someone on the street if they knew who The Presets were, that’d most likely be the song they would say.
“So a couple of years after that we sort of tried of going down the road of making that track again, and it was just impossible because whatever the ingredients were that went in to make that track special, it was purely a point in time. We can technically recreate it, but it would have no soul. So there’s really no point in doing it and I think that’s what Daniel was getting at. I think when you turn off your brain when you’re making music, you’re much more susceptible to letting something in that will make it more interesting and something that you will respond to.
“Then it’s sort of like a domino effect, once you crack that initial code of something surprising and exciting then it lets the floodgates open and more excitement can come in to fuel the creative process. When it becomes an academic or a technical process, it can just become boring very quickly.”
It’s an attitude that continues to serve The Presets well, given their longevity in the fickle dance music market and the amount of international touring that is just around the corner in support of HI VIZ. Evolution is everything.
“I know a lot of people out there just keep churning stuff out but we’re not the sort of artists that are interested in doing that,” Moyes says. “I think there’s a lot of people out there in the creative world who think the same.”
The Presets kick off their national tour, supported by Roland Tings, tonight, Wednesday, June 13, at Metropolis Fremantle. Tickets via www.livenation.com.au/show/1123943/the-presets/perth/2018-06-13/en
Australian Tour Dates…
THEBARTON THEATRE, ADELAIDE (GA/All Ages) – FRIDAY JUNE 15
FORUM THEATRE, MELBOURNE (GA/18+) – SATURDAY JUNE 16
UC REFECTORY, CANBERRA (GA/18+) – THURSDAY JUNE 21
WAVES, WOLLONGONG (GA/18+) – FRIDAY JUNE 22
ENMORE THEATRE, SYDNEY (GA/All Ages) – SATURDAY JUNE 23
THE TIVOLI, BRISBANE (GA/18+) – WEDNESDAY JUNE 27
NIGHTQUARTER, GOLD COAST (GA/18+) – FRIDAY JUNE 29
Tickets via livenation.com.au/artist/the-presets-tickets