PNAU Interview: "We are trying to trip kids out."
New album Changa is out this Friday, and we get weird with Nick Littlemore in advance.
It's not secret that we (and by 'we' I pretty much take full responsibility) went a little bit over the top with PNAU's monster summer single Chameleon over the start of the year. But to be fair, it was basically the song of the 2016/17 summer, to the point where it rose all the way to #11 in the 2016 triple j Hottest 100 (*cough* you're welcome *cough*). And while we might skip over it on the old playlists or out DJing (only sometimes), it's no matter because we've been blessed with a string of excellent singles over the month's since, ramping up to the release of their fifth album, Changa, this Friday 10 November.
And what an album Changa is. You'll hear as much on Friday, but it very much harkens back to the same PNAU we fell in love with in the mid-2000s, but with a modern spin on it that has a refreshing focus on just having some fucking fun. Dance music in many respects has become super serious over the past few years. With the rise of the post-Flume era bedroom producer often opting to take solace politely behind their laptop, PNAU's bombastic visual pallette and live shows over the past 6-12 months have been as refreshing as a 3am double Vix Stick up each nostril.
Indeed, we kinda lost our way with dance music, in particular with EDM bros and the rise and fall of trap, but the old guard like PNAU and The Presets are back to remind you that while serious dance music no doubt has it's palce, we can still have a bloody good time with it. And in PNAU's case, as you'll find out below from my chat with the ever-chilled-out Nick Littlemore, get a little bit trippy with it too. Read up below, grab the album THIS FRIDAY, and see PNAU live if you get the chance - in particular with a bunch of friends who also like to enjoy their dance music - 'cause you're gonna have a good time and who knows, you might even "cross into another alternate reality."
On Changa and putting the fun back into dance music:
Yeah for us we have always tried to do what we love, because if we try to chase the tail of what’s happening we're going to be so far behind by the time anything appears, and you can't go wrong with that good feeling kind of music. If you are putting a lot of good energy into your music hopefully people are going to respond you know? We went a bit heavy and a bit dark on Soft Universe and this one it was very much a return to that spirit of dance music.
On bringing Sam Littlemore into the fold full time:
He helped us with the artwork on the very first album and then he's always been my brother so there's that. This was the first time we really made music with him - he did a little bit of production work on PNAU but this was much more of a kind of direct collaboration between the three of us. For us we were inspired by what he’d been doing with the mixes and the production he had been doing and we just wanted to do something that raised the bar a bit and it felt right. We worked him pretty damn hard on it and he was up to the challenge - it's been good.
On Changa being a flowing journey from start to finish:
Yeah we’ve always been about the album, for us it's not enough to have one song - it doesn’t communicate enough of what we are trying to say or the feeling, we have always been about communicating feelings and ideas with the music along the way. We have always been interested in the threshold between this world and the other world and in dance music or any kind of rhythmic music where it drives something into you to feel like you are crossing into another alternate reality.
On reflecting that journey live:
On the visual side of things we are trying to trip kids out, like hallucinating or at least feeling not completely normal. I don’t think you need to do it with chemicals or whatever you can just do it with shared love and shared existence. I mean if you are feeling that 120bpm beat for six-seven hours you are going to feel all kinds of crazy things rush through you, it’s a very primal feeling.
On the visual element of PNAU 2017:
The Chameleon video I was lucky enough to direct and then Sam’s taking those things and taking them much further for the visuals. He's made all kinds of magical animations and taken some of the stuff that my other brother James had directed years ago, and yeah it's very much a family affair actually.
On creating exciting live shows:
For me performing and singing with Kira, and having a drummer makes a huge difference, it's just that instant energy. I mean obviously we have beats coming off the machines as well but just to have that energy to feed off it's really really important and now thanks to technology Sam can perform the visual element quite live and it feels very reactionary. Yes we are using all this technology but it's also very human at the same time.
On finding new fans over the years:
We have just been incredibly fortunate. I think that there’s been something that has happened in our career continuously where we’ve been really lucky and to have the chance to win over a new group of individuals like younger people, it's just pure luck and pure fortune that we're doing something where people are still interested in it and to have that intergenerational feeling - it's wonderful.
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