[Journal Interview] Mount Kimbie Discusses Touring and Translating their Records into Live Performances

(Photos: Alex Kamino)

by Harina Mokanan

Performing in Toronto for the second time in less than a year, UK electronic duo Mount Kimbie – made up of Kai Campos and Dominic Maker – recently stopped by popular Queen West haunt Wrongbar to perform a short setlist of tracks from their debut album Crooks and Lovers and 2009’s Maybes EP.

On a weekend when the city was gearing up to celebrate the best in Canadian music for the Junos, an impressively large crowd packed into the venue and were treated to the sounds of artists ranging in genre and in country of origin. Opening up for the boys on their latest stop were Indie band Meet the Blue. The electronic/rock sound the limerick band brought onstage was in stark contrast to the music Mount Kimbie unleashed unto the audience. Aside from some sound issues and a late start time, Mount Kimbie kept in line with the musical assortment theme of the night. From the ambient sounds of William to the body moving beats of Carbonated, Kai and Dominic remained deeply focused throughout their set, ensuring the crowd walked away with a favourable experience. Evident by the unanimous cheers from the audience when the first few notes of “Before I Move Off” began, the boys achieved just that.

The Come Up Show had the chance to sit down with Mount Kimbie before the show to hear about their experiences on the road and their musical process from inception to performance.

TCUS: From Australia, to Austin, Texas, from New York to Toronto. How is everything going so far?

Kai: Everywhere has been great so far. Yeah it’s been a real good couple of weeks, these last few weeks. Like Australia and America is somewhere we haven’t really put much effort into or anything, so it was amazing you know when 800 people show up.

TCUS: When you have been travelling city to city performing, are you conscious of it all or has it been a whirlwind?

Kai: We actually had plans to relax like we had four days in New York and we were in Texas for the whole week and had quite a few days off in Australia. So that’s been like the fun relaxing part, and now it’s the start of like New York, Toronto, Montreal. Now it’s like every day. But yeah you kind of get a sense of where you are.

TCUS: And because you are going from city to city, playing sets, how do you keep it interesting? How do you keep it refreshing?

Dom: Well every time we play, you know there is always a threat of some terrible catastrophe going on with our equipment. But if you kind of manage your fear you can keep it interesting, and then you get going.

Kai: It always feels different as well, the crowd.

Dom: Yeah, the crowd is really important to us, in terms of, if they coming across quiet, then we’re usually quite quiet. If they are more kind of vocal then we start getting more into it then we kind of play that.

Kai: And when you play every day, sometimes you get in a bad mood or a good mood, so yeah.

TCUS: Because you’re going from a studio, creating, and producing, how is that translating when you go into a set? Are you guys being very minimal, are you just improvising along the way?

Kai: I wouldn’t say improvising, we know the songs really well now and we have been playing them for ages. We have to change them to keep ourselves excited, so we keep putting stuff in that’s different and changing the songs quite a lot. Yeah it’s very different from the record because we just sat in a room and made the record, it’s not that interesting to watch on stage. So it’s something we are still learning about.

TCUS: Your fan base has expanded over the year since your debut album “Crooks & Lovers” came out. How are you finding this? Is it validating, or is it something that you think of as “No, we know what we’re doing, we wanted to do this for quite some time, if people like it, then they like it”?

Dom: We don’t have any preconceptions of what’s going to happen in the future. We haven’t really had any heads up. Yeah, I mean our managers are very, we trust our mangers a lot, we’ve kind of entrusted them with…we’ve talked about making it more of a kind of long term career as opposed to just like a moment. I guess all this is trying to establish that and trying to establish ourselves.

Kai: Yeah, you have to make a record for yourself but then there’s not much point if no one else hears it, unless its like one person. It’s a bit of a contradiction, you can’t really think about other people, so you got to make it for yourself, and it may catch on later and there’s going to be people that like it.

TCUS: Are you both creating new music while you are on the road, or do you have an allotted time when you get back home in your studio?

Dom: We both prefer to work at home a lot more. Yeah we find it sort of difficult and impractical to work from the road. I think it’s nice to have a bit of space and stuff when you work. I mean, we basically work separately, because Kai lives in a different city. We’re swapping ideas all the time.

TCUS: Just going back to your fan base, are you finding people reacting differently to your music when you are touring or is it pretty much the same across the countries?

Dom: Certainly, the last time we came here, we didn’t really know what to expect. Everywhere has its own personality, it’s a general trend. If its in bigger cities then people are more withdrawn. But we’ve gone to places like small towns and just been blown away by the reaction. We had a show in Boulder, just outside Denver when we first came to North America, and that was one of the best shows of the tour. That keeps it exciting, you never know what to expect the next day.

Kai: There’s also like the fact that you start playing a song in Australia, that normally people in England would start cheering for and nothing would happen in Australia. And then you would play another song and the Australians would start cheering.  So, you would be like really? This one? This song?

*Interview was conducted at Wrongbar by Harina Mokanan on March 25th 2011. Editing and Introduction by Nighisty Sium, Photography by Alex Kamino.

Check out more photography from Alex here.