Ahead of The Presets’ headline show at UC Refectory on Thursday 21 June, one half of the dynamic duo, Kim, gave OutInCanberra the lowdown on how he started in music, what the future holds and why Sound Relief in 2009 was the best gig they’ve ever played.
Could you start off by telling us how you got involved in music and how it ended up becoming your career?
Like many musicians I developed an interest in music from a young age. I started to take drum lessons and listening to music, swapping tapes with friends became almost an obsession. I’d join a community youth band who would rehearse after school hours and do concerts on the weekends. I’d go to music camps during the school holidays and very quickly all my friends were musicians. I auditioned for the Conservatorium High School in Year 9 but didn’t get accepted. I tried again for Year 11, was successful and accepted to finish High School there. I was living and breathing music in my youth and completed a Bachelor of Music as a tertiary student at the Conservatorium of Music. That’s where Julian and I met, became friends and started playing music together.
Playing in orchestras allowed me to travel overseas for the first time in my life and I made so many dear friends that I am still in contact with till this day. I always knew I’d be forging a career in music but it took a little while to figure out what direction to take within my skill set and where my real interests lied.
Jules and I were getting a lot of work playing as session musicians for other bands and at some point we decided to start our own band making electronic music. It was around 2001-2002 that the Presets was formed. We signed a record deal with Modular Records in 2002 and our first EP came out in 2003. Slowly we started to build a following and the band was able to pay us a moderate wage. We built more and more momentum and the career started to build simultaneously. Now here we are 16 years later and still giving it a crack.
There’s often a story behind how a band gets its name. Do you have one?
On a lot of old dinky synthesisers and organs you will find preset drum machine beats and corny keyboard sounds. We really like the idea of starting a band that limited themselves to only using these preset sound library. We thought it would be kind of lo-fi and punk to do. That’s how we came up with “The Presets” but of course the minute we started recording with those limited sounds we wanted to change them. We didn’t stay true to the concept for very long.
What do you enjoy most about performing?
When you are onstage and you can see the crowd responding to the music in real time it’s a very validating experience. So much of our time is spent in a little bubble in our studios making this raucous music thats meant to be played loud and jumped around to. Your creative life can feel very out of context for a vast majority of the time. Don’t get me wrong though, sitting in a studio tinkering away on songs and sounds is very rewarding in its own right and we are super lucky that we get to spend so much of our life making music. However, when the music comes to life on the stage and amongst the crowd, that’s really when the music truly blossoms and comes into it’s own. It’s always wonderful to share that experience with our fans.
What’s has been a stand-out moment in your careers so far, if you’re able to pick one?
Gosh there have been so many but the one stand-out moment that immediately comes to mind is when we played Sound Relief at the SCG in 2009. It was a benefit concert organised to raise funds for the people and families who had lost there homes to savage bush fires that summer.
We came onstage to a crowd who were so amped and up for it the energy was electric. About halfway through the set it started to rain buckets but the crowd just turned it up to 11. We were left with our jaws on the floor.
Is there anywhere you’re really excited to play on the tour?
Very excited to be playing all cities on this tour, can’t pick a fave to be honest!
What’s coming up in the future for The Presets?
We are heading over to the US in September and will hopefully find some time to get back into the studio to keep making more music.