2012’s Pacifica marks the triumphant return of one of Australia’s most successful musical exports in recent times. The Presets have once again secured their throne as the EDM kings of our country, and we, their subjects couldn’t be more delighted. It is testament to the duo’s ability to shape-shift and recreate themselves as they explore the universe of their sound. The creative partners in crime have marked Parklife as the live expose of the new material and as the wave of support for The Presets only swells, Music Feeds checked in to get the lo down on their album Pacifica.
Music Feeds: There is a distinct European flavour on Pacifica. Have your travels there affected your sound?
Presets: Do you think so? Other people have said it sounds very Australian. To us, it doesn’t really feel Australian, or European – it just feels like us. Certainly we do love European music, and we have spent a lot of time there. We are really attracted to European musicians and composers who explore rich, textural sound worlds – whether they be older classical and avant garde composers like Boulez, Ligeti and Xenakis for instance, or more modern electronic and techno producers like Atom Heart, Alva Noto or Rhythm and Sound.
MF: What experiences since Apocalypso influenced the sound that came through on Pacifica?
P: I think we are both a lot more relaxed and rested than we were when making previous records. After we finished touring Apocalypso, we were able to have our first real holiday in around 10 years. We also spent way longer making Pacifica than any other record – we were really able to take our time, and not rush things. Perhaps that has come through in the sound of the music.
MF: A different energy is felt in Pacifica. Rather than songs that were explosive from the start and kept their intensity till the end, songs on Pacifica have a different structure. They fluctuate, build and brood. Why the change?
P: We wanted to create a bit more drama on this record, not just the whole album, but within each song. I mean, techno music traditionally has big bits, and lulls, then build ups to huge climaxes – so it’s not really anything new. But I guess we were conscious that we didn’t want anything to slam 100% the whole song. We wanted things to be a bit more organic: songs that grow, and fade. We still like sledge hammer moments, but not necessarily the entire song.
MF: With a new album comes a new live show. How has the live show evolved from the Apocolypso tour?
P: Sure – the staging and lights and everything keep getting bigger. Essentially, we are just 2 guys on stage playing instruments, so we like to have a bit of an extravaganza going on around us to make it all look and feel more exciting. We have gone back and remixed and revised a lot of our older material too – so musically, it is quite different from our Apocalypso show.
MF: There is a recurrent theme of ‘troubled youth’ across the album, none moreso than in Youth in Trouble. What is it about the youth of Australia that troubles you?
P: I guess that song is more an exploration of this idea that we are taught to be scared of youth, and we are supposed to be worried for them as well. I don’t necessarily agree that youth is in trouble – but reading the papers and watching TV will give you a different angle. There is a lot of hype that surrounds our youth today, and whilst I am now a father who worries at times about the world my daughter will inherit, I also believe that young people today are a pretty resilient bunch. I feel at times they are even better than adults at adapting to and negotiating certain difficult situations.
MF: Having achieved the monumental success of Apacolypso, do you feel that you had pressure to create something that would please the fans?
P: We always wish that our fans will continue to like our music – but we certainly don’t sit in our studios and try and create music to please the fans. Our only rule is to make music that we love – the hope that our fans like it too.
MF: You’ve said that Apocalypso was a product of a time. What sounds right now really capture your attention?
P: What sounds? Well there are so many sounds that capture my attention and imagination. And they are all so different. Sometimes there are really cool sounds in really bad songs, or there are really great songs made from really bad sounds. That is a tricky question. I guess I like the sound of my piano, when I play it well! The trees outside with rustling leaves sound nice this morning. I like my daughter’s laugh. I like the delays and space in King Tubby’s music; I like the 808 beats in 2 Live Crew’s music.
MF: You’ve stated that ‘rocking party music’ is an essential Presets ingredient. In what way do you feel that the music you’ve created on Pacifica encapsulates this?
P: Perhaps, for the first time, with Pacifica we’ve shied away from rocking party music. We still try to have moments that rock and explode, but it’s not a whole album of it. We have tried to explore partying and loudness, and also beauty and softness in equal measure this time around.
The Presets new album Pacifica is out now, click here to purchase it on iTunes.