The electronic duo build on their sound with a second album.
“We are both really weird people,” claims Dom Maker, one half of the electronic duo known as Mount Kimbie. Diving into a lunch of eggs, toast, and sliced avocado, Maker contemplates his first statement, then elaborates, “We don’t really talk about what we want to achieve or what is going on, but we are both in the same tune and just know when something is good or bad.” It’s a simple but successful chemistry, a formula that has effectively led the group to create two revered albums and avoid the pitfalls that squash most new artists. Mount Kimbie will play The Republic Thursday night.
Dom Maker and Kai Campos met at Southbank University of London, where they lived on the same hall and formed a bond complaining about student life and mixing electronic tracks in each other’s dorm rooms. Inspired by artists such as DJ Loafer, Coki, Mala, and Bass Clef, the forerunners of UK dubstep and experimental electronic music, the duo aimed to create “a warped kind of dubstep” that incorporated indie, spoken word, hip-hop and funk influences as well.
“We were fascinated with the heavier side of dubstep because it was something that we were so unfamiliar with,” claims Maker. “I still remember the first time I heard dubstep, I immediately knew it was different because it was such a physical experience. We are both from similar backgrounds, had similar upbringings, and we both still crave the opportunity to listen to different stuff that makes us say, ‘How the hell was that made?'" Excited by the exotic new sound taking over London’s underground nightclubs, Maker and Campos focused their efforts towards “making weird music,” and were soon picked up by Berlin-based Hotflush Recordings after leaking tracks online.
Crooks & Lovers, the duo’s first album released in 2010, earned high acclaim from critics and fans in the electronic scene, citing Maker and Campos as the “pioneers of post-dubstep.” The honors came as a relief. Maker admits, “We didn’t know what to expect with Crooks. It was fucking hard, a weird experience. Once you get into it, you realize how immersive [the process] really is and how much you have to live what you are doing. Before, it was a hobby. We loved it, but there was more to life than music. But in the six months you are writing an album, that’s what it’s about. We had to change our focus from the lazy student life to ‘This is our passion, let’s go with it.’”
To the relief of fans, the group’s second album, Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, released earlier this year, proved that Mount Kimbie wouldn’t be limited by genre expectations, pushing their sound with the introduction of new instruments, vocals, and verses by UK rapper, King Krule. “We just felt like there needed to be another layer of melody,” says Maker. “Crooks & Lovers referred to a very small period of time and used very small, delicate part of sounds. With this one, we have been listening to a lot of music that is very lyric-heavy and vocal-heavy, and I’ve found it quite interesting recently, delving into what lyrics mean and how people write lyrics. We always try to do something that we aren’t comfortable with because that’s how the best ideas come out. I guess vocals were next on the bucket list.” One band that particularly influenced the record was Micachu and The Shapes, noted for producing grinding pop songs with homemade instruments. The duo tried to replicate the energy captured in her recordings, aiming for more of a live-show feel than a studio album groomed with a fine-tooth comb. “We wanted there to be mistakes in there,” says Maker. “We wanted there to buzzing from the guitar and stuff like that.”
Although there is a clear evolution in sound between the two records, the group’s unique creative process has undergone little change. Working separately on individual tracks, Maker and Campos split studio time, meeting only weekly or monthly to check up on the other’s progress and critique songs. “We are lone wolves really,” states Maker, “but for some bizarre reason we work together really well. God knows how. I think that we both need each other’s ear.” This time around, Maker claims that they merely took a more professional approach, spending more time in the studio, experimenting with new instruments and gear. Although work on a new album is underway, Maker and Campos aren’t stressed to hurry their work. “Music is so kind of fickle, really, especially in the UK,” says Maker. “There’s so much new music coming out all the time, we’re constantly being bombarded with new bands, new sounds, new looks so it doesn’t really come into our train of thought to rush through another album.” Rather, improving their live show has become the focus. “Our interest in doing a live show is that it is truly a kind of live show. We want to use any instruments we can to develop the ideas that we have on live record and give people a show that is beyond what they’d expect to hear, not an exact replication of the album. We are basically working on the ideas that exist on record and growing them into real, live songs.”