Mount Kimbie on Signing With Warp Records, Why "Post-Dubstep Doesn't Mean Much to Us"
When Mount Kimbie, the London-based production duo of Kai Campos and Dominic Maker, dropped 2010's critically-acclaimed debut album Crooks & Lovers, the media swiftly christened them poster children for the "post-dubstep" movement. But even then, it was a reductionist label for Kimbie's sound.
While held up by broken beats and sub-bass lines, their intricate, nuanced collages of found sound samples and field recordings were as much part of an avant-garde tradition going back to early 20th century musique concrète, as post-millennial UK bass.
"[Post-dubstep] doesn't mean much to us, really," Kai Campos tells Crossfade about being pigeonholed. "I think the word dubstep normally throws people off from what we actually do. I feel like we've always been judged on our own merits over here, though, so whatever it needs to be called is fine with me."
But then, two big things happened to Mount Kimbie in 2013 to further detract from people's perception that they are merely part of today's trendy post-dubstep "future bass" contingent.
First, they got signed to the legendary Warp label, home to the likes of Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and Boards of Canada -- iconoclastic sonic innovators who ostensibly make electronic beats for the rave generation, but are also considered serious auteurs in the avant-garde context.
"Warp was definitely an influential label to me, so it's an honor to be releasing music with them -- really great to see the logo on our record," says Kai. "[It] just seemed like a good home, and they didn't have any suggestions about what the record should sound like, which is what you want."
And the second big milestone for Mount Kimbie this year was releasing their sophomore album, Cold Spring Fault Less Youth. It's an ambitious and complex work which marks the duo's maturation from bedroom producers still experimenting somewhat within the bass music template, to full-blown genre-defying auteurs with an uncompromisingly original vision.
"I think after a two-year break from writing music, we naturally were interested in exploring other areas of music and seeing what we could achieve," explains Kai. "The process was a really nice one. We had a bit of time to just experiment and find a sound we were excited about."
"I think it's a more opaque, kind of dense sound, but also more pop in a way," he adds. "I don't think it's necessarily the easiest record to get to grips with straight away, but I feel really happy when people say they've become fond of it after repeated listening -- that's a success to me."
In part, the raw originality of Cold Spring has to do with the contributions of guest vocalist King Krule (AKA Archy Marshall,) the 19-year-old UK breakthrough phenomenon whose thickly accented baritone voice and precocious lyricism have garnered divisive reactions on the scene.
"Working with Archy was perfect," says Kai. "We weren't looking for someone to work with on this record, but were excited by his early work and just asked him if he wanted to come and listen to the very early stages of a few bits we were working on at the time. For us, it would only work if he wanted to be involved in the process from early on, and I think his engaging with the music shows on the tracks."
As for Mount Kimbie's live show, it has also gone through a significant evolution paralleling their growth on the new album. Guitar, bass and live percussion to supplement their hefty arsenal of electronic gadgetry attest to their having moved beyond mere electronic automation in favor of hands-on musicianship and improvisation to offer unique live performances.
"The show is quite varied, I suppose," says Kai as far as what to expect during their live performance at Bardot tonight. "We try and frame a way that builds in certain places. We're really enjoying playing the new stuff and reinventing old tracks and parts of our music that wouldn't necessarily work live. We should be fairly good by that point of the tour!"
Mount Kimbie. Presented by Slap & Tickle. With special guests. Tuesday, October 15. Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. Call 305-576-7750 or visit bardotmiami.com.
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