Peking Duk Interview: "We're just trying to go as Spinal Tap as possible."
Expect their Falls Festival live sets to go extra large this New Year's period.
Another year, another Hottest 100 conversation that definitely features the possibility of a Peking Duk #1. Last year their ARIA winning, Elliphant-featuring single Stranger rolled in at #9, following on from 2014's double whammy of Take Me Over feat. SAFIA (#5) and High feat. Nicole Millar (#2). This year they face the very real possibility of another couple of top 10's thanks to Fake Magic featuring AlunaGeorge, and more recently, Let You Down featuring Swedish duo Icona Pop. Indeed, their knack for crafting crossover hits is almost unparalleled in Australian music, and this humble scribe puts it down to two main reasons - the first is the fact that Reuben Styles and Adam Hyde are a couple of very talented producers who know their way around a banger.
The second is FUN, with a big ole capital F U.
I touched on it earlier this year in my PNAU interview, but the idea of dance music being an actual fun and enjoyable experience is once again coming to the forefront in a post-trap world. We don't have to go out to clubs and aggressively rinse that bass face away anymore. We can go out, dance with our friends and sing along to catchy vocal hooks that make us feel good. And we need it more than ever at a time where social media is constantly telling us that we're not cool/good looking/happy enough while the world is going down the toilet thanks to middle aged white men on podiums telling us they know what's best, even though it always seems like the worst.
Fun has always been the selling point of the Peking Duk brand, and with two of Australia's most loveable larrikins steering the ship they've sailed through one of their biggest ever years, one that is culminating in an epic live experience at Falls Festival this New Year's. They've slowly been removing the CDJs, in their place a full live band, insane visuals, and smiles both on stage and out in front of it as they attempt to go "as Spinal Tap as possible".
As they trim (don't ask where all this nautical shit has come from, just go with it) towards this year's incoming Falls Festival (more tickets/info HERE), I caught up with Styles to find out what they have planned for it. In the process I learned about the insane story of how Let You Down came to exist, and just how close we may (or may not) be to a full length Peking Duk album.
Reuben Styles on getting their live show to its final form:
Since the beginning of time we’ve wanted to do a live set, and so that in itself has been something we’ve been working towards over the past few years. It started at ARIAs two years ago and we got to perform Take Me Over as a live band, and that’s the best thing we’d done on a stage. So we thought eventually we’ve gotta get a full set of that together. And it’s kind of fun, you can get ridiculous with a live set... Just take it as Spinal Tap as you can and turn it into something absurd. And that is something we’re very fond of, and right now we’re just learning the parts and still trying to play them. Give it time and it’s gonna be amazing.
On their landmark Splendour In The Grass set:
Splendour was the first time we’d linked more than one live song into another one. And that’s something we’ve been wanting to get to for ages. It was the most nervous I’ve ever been ever. Except probably our first DJ gig at a cocktail bar seven or eight years ago. But yeah Splendour was legit the most nervous I’ve been.
On not taking this gig so seriously:
Seeing how seriously everyone took themselves just DJing, especially in the States, just made us think, ‘Far out what are we doing?' When you see how seriously it’s getting taken by a lot of people out there, it makes you think. As DJs we’ve been pressing play and mixing a song for up to like a minute, and that blending of songs from one into another... especially for us with two people - it’s definitely a one man job - it kinda made us awkward. So we just rip out more and more banter to break the awkwardness, and we realised how ridiculous it all got. It’s all good and fun and we bring out lots of guests and make it as exciting and interesting as possible and try challenge ourselves with the mixing, so we’d always make it fun and challenging, but at the end of the day we’re just playing tracks off a CD player pretty much. And that’s simply it.
You see people, even the punters take ‘emselves too seriously at electronic gigs and it’s like, ‘Fuck what has this all become?’ Something we’ve been big fans of is breaking the awkwardness by being ridiculous and being silly and talking stupid banter about nothing in particular and just trying to make sure everyone is just having fun.
On the ridiculous path that lead to Let You Down:
Pretty much we were in Miami, played at this basement gig/EDM party, we were there playing trap bangers just on the cusp of trap exploding. Swedish House Mafia were in the crowd, we were pretty bowled over by the amount of celebrity EDM DJs that were in there and we just flipped it up with trap and everyone was like ‘what is going on?’ Anyway next morning we’re hungover on the plane to LA, I spilt orange juice all over the backpack of the person next to me and I was like, ‘Oh my god I’m so sorry’. And she was like, ‘No it’s fine we’re feeling salty ourselves, we saw these Aussie DJs last night play at the W.’ And then realised it was us.
And I was like ‘Oh you like you’re in a band what band are you from?’ And she said Icona Pop... We stayed in touch, met up with them a year ago in Stockholm in Sweden, they were working in a studio next to us and we popped our head in to say hey, and we showed each other what we were working on. We didn’t work together that day but a week later in London we were on the River Thames on a boat that belonged to Pete Townshend from The Who, it had a studio on it you could hire so we rented it for a week because we thought it was the sickest thing ever.
And every day that week we made a song and one of the songs was Let You Down - that day we were so hungover and it just came together super quick and naturally and then we thought for the chorus there’s no one better than a big, chanting sort of vibe, so we thought two females not just one, and thought Icona Pop for sure. Sent it to them, thinking they’re probably gonna be like ‘piss off’, and maybe we crossed the line on our friendship. But they replied and said ‘let’s do this’, and before we knew it the song was finished really quickly. I don’t think many songs have come together, especially ours, as quickly as this one.
On new tunes and potentially, maybe, an album:
Yeah we’ll unveil a couple of un-released songs at Falls I reckon… I think Falls is a good place to see genuine reactions for new music. I’m excited to play a couple. Playing Let You Down live has been so sick. The reactions are awesome. I’m super excited to play the one that’s coming out in January, the week after the Freo Falls... I will promise an album. Whether it’s in 10 years, or it’s next year, that I can’t tell you.
I’m leaning towards 90% chance of an album drop next year.
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