INTERVIEW: The Presets

Collaboration is a beautiful art form, and when it’s done in the right way it can be a worldly experience. Ideally when you have two unique artists coming together you want them to push each other creatively while mixing their two distinctive palettes together. Both parties need to have a mutual respect for each other so they can respectively know when to push each other with ideas and when to take a step back. Sometimes collaborations don’t work, but other times they can turn into a beautiful thing. And in The Presets and Golden Features case it was a creative home run of sonical fusion. 

“We’ve been quiet fans of Tom’s (Golden Features) for a while. One of the first things he ever released was a remix of our song ‘No Fun’ back in 2014. We had never heard of him before that, and we were really impressed by that re-working so I had been keeping a quiet eye on him since” Kim Moyes from The Presets explains of their discovery of Golden Features.  

“He has a take on electronic music which is very singular and unique. I’ve always been attracted to the originality of his sound. He can get quite dark but still manage to play with beautiful melodies and harmonies. As far as I’m concerned, purely as a music fan, I’ve always felt that he has been head and shoulders above the pack” he adds. 

After being introduced to each other a few years ago Kim and Tom became good friends and regularly started to jam together in the studio with no real purpose instead of a mutual respect of their creative processes. With a few unfinished ideas floating around, Kim approached Julian about collaboratively releasing music with Golden Features. And with all parties on board, the birth of their EP ‘Raka’ was in full motion. 

“Between The Presets and Golden Features there is a huge common ground. I think some of the formative years of Tom as a musician were shaped by part of the scene The Presets were involved in. You hear a lot of the mid 2000’s influences in his music like Justice, Digitialism and even The Presets” Moyes explains of the sonical fit between the two parties. 

With the creative sessions in full swing, there were a few discovery hurdles they had to face to find the right balance of where this collaboration was heading towards. Kim and Julian had a distinct idea of the balance they wanted as they didn’t want this to heavily sound like a typical Presets project. Instead they wanted Golden Features to help bring out a darker tone in their sound and find a unique midway between their aesthetics. But at first a timid Tom was taking a backseat which worried Kim. 

“For whatever reason it may be, whether there’s two of us and one of him, we’re older, or we’ve released more albums than him, we sort of felt that he was being a bit timid at first. We started to get concerned that whatever we’d make would just really heavily lean on The Presets sound which is not what we wanted”

With every project there is that one track that breaks the ice and sets the tone for what the release is going to be and for this EP it was the title track ‘Raka’ that opened the doorway to the rest of the material.

“I think Tom was just being a little polite at the beginning as he’s been a big fan of The Presets and knows our stuff really intimately. Throughout the early stages he started to feel like he was becoming the third member of The Presets. We ended up having a conversation and reiterated that we definitely didn’t want that as we wanted to bring the best of each other out and align our sounds to see if it works”.

“That was a hurdle and a little bit of a challenge but it was also kinda cool as it set the template for what we were going to do creatively. It allowed a lot of freedom, it allowed us to get out of each others way when we needed to, and it allowed us to have a bit more of a game plan and a birds eye view of what the project was going to be” he cites. 

Sonically throwing shit at the walls to try build a palette they could use for this project, ‘Raka’ was the first song that felt like a perfect representation of the two acts coming together. 

“In the early stages of working together we spent a week just improvising, jamming and building a little collection of beats and sketches of ideas. But ‘Raka’ was one of the first ideas that Julian really responded to and asked to take it home and throw some vocal ideas at it to see where he could get it to. So he did that and very quickly and got the skeleton of the idea together. Tom and I then helped him flesh it out and make the song sonically interesting”. 

“It was definitely the one we laboured over the most. It went through many different incarnations. But I think its a really successful iteration on the idea of the collaboration between us. It feels like the perfect blend of both of our sounds. It has a very distinct Golden Features baseline and drop section. While the beat, the synth work and the vocals are very distinctly The Presets. But yet all together it’s really exciting, rocking and has one foot in techno and one foot in a rock n roll attitude” he reflects. 

In contrast, ‘Control’ is a song that highlights a whole different aesthetic on this EP. With a moodier and grittier palette, Moyes explains how Golden Features really honed the sound of this track. 

“Control was actually almost completely a bed that Tom had made. Quite late in the piece we were trying to finish up ‘Raka’ and ‘Paradise’ and looking at what else we had left with the time we had remaining. And Tom was like ‘guys I have this idea. It doesn’t have a vocal idea on it but I reckon if we get the right vocal it could be the right addition to the project’. So once we listened to it we thought it was really complimentary to the other ideas we had. Julian set some time aside to start sketching out some vocal ideas and we helped him boil his ideas down to something really concise and direct”. 

Bringing this vision to life, they wanted this collaboration project to be also visually represented in the right way. 

“When we were working on the material, we all had a clear idea of how we wanted it to sound. We wanted it to be dark and clubby but we also wanted it to have space and feel other worldly while also being a little melancholy isolated and detached. So when we were throwing around ideas for artwork and visual aesthetics, a lot of it was very moody. We knew very early on that we didn’t want it to be bright or fruity and for it to be really quite different to what we had done with Hi Viz”

Reaching out to frequent visual collaborator Jonathan Zawada, they started to experiment with different aesthetic concept.

“He came back with a bunch of ideas that we weren’t really feeling, but he also came back with some alternate options that sparked our interest. There were these photos of fingerprints that looked like a lunar landscape and we were really attracted to them so Jonathan went away and did some colour treatments to them and came back with some perfect ideas. It really suited the music and we all felt so confident with the aesthetic he had created”. 

With the final touches in place, ‘Raka’ was finally born into the world last week with four very distinct and unique songs that perfectly capture the experimentation process and the artistic basis of what collaboration can be.

‘Raka’ is out now on all streaming services!