Mount Kimbie on Post-Dubstep Tag: 'We’re Quite Indifferent About It'

Chris Rhodes
Mount Kimbie

The U.K. duo’s post-genre sophomore album drops next week on Warp.

Talking to Mount Kimbie makes it seem like 2009 was a decade ago. Four years ago, U.K.-based Kai Campos and Dominic Maker released their debut album “Crooks And Lovers” on Scuba's Hotflush label, which spurred a frenzy of similarly bobbing, bass-heavy productions in the subsequent years. Now, the pair has inked a deal with Warp for its sophomore album, “Cold Spring Fault Less Youth,” which drops May 28. Check out the video for key track “Made To Stray” below:

The new LP embellishes the introspective plink-plonk percussion that marked the group's early releases with live instrumentation and vocal hooks, but the duo remains tied to the term "post dubstep," much like fellow Hotflush alumni Sepalcure. Mount Kimbie has outgrown the sub-genre and has set its sights on a wider audience, crystallizing the fragmentation of what was a fertile trend in production even a year ago. We had a chat with Campos and Maker to reflect on how much can change in just a few short years.

A few months ago, you guys did an interview for Red Bull Music Academy’s Don’t Call It Post Dubstep”video. Did you watch the video when it came out?

Dominic Maker: With baited breath. It wasn’t too bad.

Kai Campos: I was dreading it. They actually woke me up [to do the interview]. I was asleep on the studio floor, and they came in. I had completely forgotten that we were doing it, and I looked like absolute dog shit, so I had to leave. I almost had a panic attack. I had to get some fresh air and go buy some moisturizer. I had been asleep for like two hours or something. It came out OK though.

I’m sure you’ve talked about “post dubstep” a lot today. You guys have always been a little hesitant about the term “post dubstep,” right?

KC: I don’t know what we would be happy with, particularly.

DM: We’re quite indifferent about the name itself, but as the definition of what dubstep is now changes, it’s becoming further and further from the truth. In the media world, you’d see the word “post dubstep” and you’d react somewhat differently to what you would have done four or five years ago. It’s really a term that we’ve had to come to terms with, being labeled like that. We’re quite indifferent about it, so it’s not really a big issue for us.

KC: It was just referencing a really small palette of sounds. It wasn’t like saying you’re a “rock band,” it was referring to particular production techniques that you don’t really want to pigeonholed into. I don’t know whether the new record will change that or not. If it was a broader spectrum of stuff, then I guess it wouldn’t be as patronizing.

Hotflush is a great example of how bass music and “post dubstep” has splintered. They’ve been doing a lot more techno-oriented stuff recently; I couldn’t see you guys releasing a record with them anymore.

DM: Everyone reacts differently to how this style of music has changed. A lot of people instantly tried to hunt down something that’s totally different from what’s come before, or, anything that has the coining of “post dubstep” attached to it is moved away from at all costs. Other people have embraced it. Now you’re left with a situation where there’s so much material out there that has a similar sound, that clippy-cloppy stuff, that stuff has saturated. For me, Hotflush has almost stepped back a few years and then started again. I guess it’s interesting seeing how labels react and how artists react, and the relationship between them. But, I totally agree that you wouldn’t necessarily believe that a Mount Kimbie record would make it onto the Hotflush release schedule anytime soon.

I guess you’ve both grown apart. Is this album “less Hotflush” and “more Warp”? How does Warp suit your sound now better than Hotflush?

KC: I think with our first EP on Hotflush, it didn’t sound anything like what they had put out before, really. I think Paul [Rose, aka Scuba] would just like to put out different music and stuff that he’s really into, and it didn’t really fit in with the rest of the stuff that they’re doing, but they did a good job with it. I think Warp’s a good home for it now because they’ve had a lot of history with stuff that people didn’t try to categorize or label. They had a period of putting out a lot of rock bands and stuff as well, so I felt like they’d seen it all before.

Why did you guys decide to sing more on this album?

KC: [SInging] just worked with the songs, really. We did it for one of the first times that we were writing the album, which was the first track, “Home Recording.” I always had vocals on it, but I was just mumbling some melody and changing the words every night. It wasn’t a big decision, but by the end of the album, we realized that the majority of the songs had some kind of vocal performance on them.

DM: Kai really stepped into the lyric writing and really started to enjoy that whole process quite early on. By the time it had come down to, “Right, let’s change these mumblings into full-on lyrics,” it was quite an enjoyable process. It’s just another kind of thing where anything that’s remotely challenging or is quite genuinely exciting to do, we’d like to do. So, we’d never really written anything vocally before, and it was a very interesting process, having to actually sit there and speak over the track and make it have a meaning in a different way to what we do with synthesizers and so on.

KC: We were very hesitant to come out with something that was a second album, instrumentals with people guesting on them and having six different vocalists. I had 30 strong ideas for what I wanted the vocals to be like, so I quite often thought, “Oh, we’ll get somebody else to step in and do this,” but it just got to the point where I don’t really want to tell somebody how to do this, when I’m telling them exactly what to do. It feels good to be putting something on the line that I don’t feel that comfortable with, but I feel like we’ve done a good job of it.

DM: It was quite a big step for both of us, being prepared to put a voice to the music, and just trying to find that hallowed ground of not being too personal, and not coming across as emotional, but also steering clear from being too far away from that and focusing on imagery and stuff like that. I think that lyrically, we’ve done a really good job of where we wanted the vocal to sit, suggesting but not being so direct, and leave people able to still play around with the sounds in their own head as opposed to giving it a subtitle as such.