On the Road, For the Record: Mount Kimbie
We’ve already read about their inspirations, their artistic process, and how they came up with their name. “On the Road, for the Record” gives us the opportunity to catch up with artists on the move and get a more detailed glimpse into life on tour. First up? UK duo Mount Kimbie.
In the process of wrapping up their current North American tour, Kai Campos from the British, electronic duo, Mount Kimbie, gave us a ring from San Francisco. In collaboration with fellow UK heavy-hitters, King Krule, James Blake, and Micachu, last fall they released their first studio album in four years, Love What Survives. This month they’ve added to their musical repertoire by releasing remixes by a few members of the European club scene: Nina Kraviz, Marcel Dettmann, Ellen Allien, and Gerd Janson. For more on their artistic collabs, most memorable shows, and what it’s like to be on the road, read our full interview below.
So what is the number one thing that you miss from home when you’re on tour? Maybe a restaurant or something?
Um, nah. I mean eating is one of the most fun things about traveling, I think. Um, let me think… what I miss about being home… Oh Man, not that much, you know? I guess it’s mostly just your friends’ lives; basically, what people that are close to you are up to, you know? Stuff like that. If you’re traveling a lot, sometimes you miss out on some of that stuff when you have to catch up when you get back, you know,
It definitely is a little break from life for sure. So what would you say was the biggest misconception about being on tour?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that you never get to see anywhere; that it must just be like straight in and out and you don’t get to experience anything. When you get used to it, you can experience quite a lot in a day or an afternoon, you know? And you can really get a feel for somewhere and it is a different way of traveling, but it’s really nice to have this kind of patchwork experience kind of being on the move all the time and you know, everyone’s got to stop and eat lunch at some point. So you’re always taking the time to at least do that.
Do you remember a favorite place that you stopped?
There are so many, really. The best times are just—especially when you travel by bus, and you sleep while you’re traveling and you wake up in the next place—, the best thing is that you’re always moving. It’s just like little moments everywhere; it’s really hard to pick. It’s everywhere. It’s everywhere, and it’s kind of always changing, but it’s really good.
Are there any memorable interactions that you had with fans in the audience during a show?
In America, especially, it feels like people travel a lot for shows. I’m always amazed to meet people who have driven for eight hours or more to get to a show somewhere. That’s so crazy to me because I would never drive eight hours to do anything. So it’s just very touching when people take the time do that. And sometimes you meet people afterward, and you can say tell that it genuinely meant something to them, which is cool.
How would you say that crowds different, even from coast to coast, from New York to San Francisco to LA and then around the world and in London and Paris?
There is a feeling of being in a major city like LA, or New York, or Paris, or London. They’re always the best-attended shows, but sometimes there’s a feeling that they’re not the most exciting to do really. I live in London, and I know we suffer from, as like a crowd, there being so many things that you could be doing. I think people sometimes aren’t as engaged.
Sometimes people will start playing smaller places. There is a different energy and it kind of just is the only thing going on in town. More times, people come on a whim, you know, just to see what it’s about. Whereas, when you’re playing in more well-known places, it’s like everyone knows what you’re up to. Playing to people that haven’t heard your music before is really fun. I think that’s kind of something that happens more outside of big cities.
Yeah, totally. Are there any rituals that you had before going on stage or do you guys have any lucky talismans or anything that you bring along?
Not really. The four of us that are on stage just try and spend a bit of time together before the show and not be off doing different things so that when we come on, everyone feels like we’re on the same page and stuff. So nothing crazy. We just hug it out and have a drink.
So there are four of you on stage. Are there any behind-the-scenes members that come on tour with you and if so, what are their roles?
Yeah, we have two sound engineers, we have a guy who works on the stage and lighting stuff, our tour manager, somebody that sells merch, and we’re traveling with our support acts on this tour as well, which is really nice. It’s a really good mix of people of all ages and backgrounds and stuff. It’s a nice thing because there are so many of us that you can kind of, we can all do something together, but also everyone goes off and does their own shit as well and meets up later on. It’s a great balance. I’ve done some traveling by myself and it’s just, it’s very different.
When you guys first started out, it was only you and Dom on stage. Do you remember your first show? What about it would stand out to you?
I remember all of our shows really well. I think they’re just kind of imparted in, like they’re just kinda seared into your memory forever, really. There’s an ability when you start out, I think, and you know you’re not very good, but you still have no problem with kind of getting up and doing it. That’s a really good time when you suck, and you know that you suck, but you just have some, I don’t know where the confidence comes from, but you have no problem with kind of getting up there and knowing it’s probably going to fall apart, but just trying and learning. And as more goes on, I think it’s always good to try and keep in touch with that because it can get too rehearsed. All of our first shows were terrible, you know? But you just have to kind of learn from each one. I just remembered having massive debriefs after every gig for like the first two years about what doesn’t work and how to change it.
Do you have a favorite flyer or a piece of artwork that was associated with one of your shows or tours? How do you find people to collaborate with?
The one that springs to mind is Noah Cunnigham, up in San Francisco. I’m actually at his house right now, and he’s put on every show that we’ve played in San Francisco since like 10 years ago.
When it was just me and Dom, and we didn’t know what we were doing, we were just traveling around with a couple of bags with our clothes and a couple bits of gear and stuff – just trying to figure it out as we went along. When you’re starting out, it can be quite daunting, and you don’t know how you’re supposed to act when you get picked up by promoters and stuff like that. You’re not sure what you’re meant to do. Noah always went out of his way to be really warm and hospitable. He always was full of energy and ideas about what to do to make it an amazing day. He used to make these flyers for our shows; there was always a twist to it. He did a whole ton of balloons that had the gig details on them, and he just released them around San Francisco one time. They were everywhere. We just kept on finding these balloons, floating around. He did fortune cookies and handed them out around San Francisco with the gig details inside. He’s done a bunch of weird stuff like glass paperweights, that were horrendously expensive to make. Those are by far the best flyers I’ve ever seen.
That’s really cool. Are there any albums that remind you of being on the road? Do you watch movies? How do you spend the time when you’re just driving around?
I mean with 12 people, there is no way everyone is gonna be up for watching the same movie. We do listen to music when we’re traveling, but I think it’s just a lot of chat. It’s very chatty on the bus. There’s a certain energy from performing that you get every night. It sounds very cheesy, but it’s just a lot of laughing and jokes. In terms of music, I don’t know, it’s a good time to listen to all the stuff that you feel like you’re supposed to listen to. Like, “I should probably check out the Frank Ocean album.” It’s this thing that I just don’t come into contact with, but I feel like I should because it’s good to listen to music that other people are listening to as well. And it’s awesome, you know? I’m not sure what that is going to be on this trip, but it’s a good time to go through the list of stuff that you’re meant to listen to.
Last question, what advice would you give to Mount Kimbie circa 2008?
I think it’s all the same. It’s all applicable to every aspect of life, really, it’s just trying to have a healthy balance about what other people think about what you’re doing, you know? It can be daunting, being out there and being looked at all the time. It’s not my natural inclination at all. I think that can go pretty south if you’re doing it too much. It’s just trying to keep stuff in balance in every area; in terms of what I’m putting into my body and how much sleep I’m getting. I wouldn’t change anything. Just trying to take the time to realize—we’ve always taken it really seriously and sometimes to a fault. I think that’s the thing that helps you and that guides you to get better at doing something, but it can also be really negative. I just know now that I really try and take all the lessons and there’s a time to be hard on yourself about what you’re doing, and then there’s also a time to enjoy it and be there for it and kind of step outside of it for a second and just be happy that you’re doing it.
Totally, thank you so much for your time. Where are you guys playing in San Francisco?
We’re playing two nights at this place called ‘The Chapel’.
There’s a really good taco place it’s called “Taqueria El Buen Sabor”, which is literally on the cross street next to it. You should go, it’s super good.
Alright cool, nice one.
Featured image courtesy of Frank Lebon
Stay tuned to Milk for more from the road.