COURTESY OF HAROLD DAVID
Open up your iTunes. Type in “Presets.” Double-click the first song that comes up and take a listen.
Although the band’s MySpace proclaims that the band sounds like “schaudenfreude,” the above directions are the only way that Kim Moyes, drummer of the Australian electronic dance punk duo, feels it appropriate to describe their sound. The other half of The Presets is vocalist Julian Hamliton.
The two met at a Sydney conservatory where they were both pursuing a classical education. A far cry from one’s notion of classical music, The Presets hit the Australian musical scene in 2005 with “Beams,” a relentlessly thumping, synth-heavy, electro-house album characterized by Hamilton’s deep, haunting vocals that echo and loop throughout the record. Their second album “Apocalpyso” was released in 2007, and, gaining popularity through the strength and distinctive sound of tracks like “My People” and “This Boy’s in Love,” won the ARIA Awards for “Best Dance Release” and “Album of the Year.”
Since then, the duo has been touring across Australia, the United States and Europe with Daft Punk and bouncing between massive festivals boasting crowds of 35,000 plus, techno/rave parties and smaller clubs and venues, taking breaks to work and rework their music and their live show.
In an interview with The Eagle, Moyes elaborated on the structure of The Presets’ live show for “Beams” and its effect on the writing of “Apocolypso.” “Before we made our first record, we hadn’t done much playing as a live band,” he said. “We did a lot of things because we could, but we had to figure out how to play live. [While touring] we got a lot stronger of an idea of what we like to do and what made us The Presets.”
“Apocalypso” features a refined, darker sound that Moyes described as sparser and characterized by direct production. After a full tour promoting and exploring the possibilities of “Apocalypso,” The Presets took a brief break to rework their stage show, which features only the two men without a backing band.
Describing the sparse, rave-like atmosphere of their show, Moyes said, “It’s just Julian singing, me on drums, the both of us on keyboards now and then, and lights blinding the fuck out of the room.”
Moyes compared The Presets’ new set to that of a DJ.
“We spent a lot of time in pre-production formulating backing tracks that we can play over the top to give a human quality,” he said. “A lot of the songs on ‘Apocalypso’ blend together, which is why we can afford to put it together like a DJ set.”
Despite being native Australians, the electro-pop duo doesn’t give precedence to their home territory in live shows. Moyes insisted that he and Hamilton never curtail or adjust shows based on the demographic of the audience.
“We do what we do and bring out The Presets style to whatever we’re involved in,” he said. “Whether it be a festival in Europe or playing at the 9:30 club in D.C., you’re always guaranteed that when you see The Presets’ name, you’ll get one thing and one thing only.”
That one thing has been spreading slowly but surely through the iPods of not only American music junkies but mainstream audiences as well. Like a number of artists gaining popularity in the U.S., The Presets have been featured on several TV shows. When asked if he felt that this form of media would be unable to properly convey the band’s style, Moyes expressed that the medium of communication doesn’t matter as long as the message is conveyed.
“Whether our music gets played on a ringtone or a movie or a TV show, it really doesn’t matter,” he said. “I think we’re excited that our music is out there and being heard.”