The English group on collaboration, pub food in London, and recording their new album in a frat house.

Seven years…that’s the time between Mount Kimbie‘s third album, Love What Survives, and their fourth, The Sunset Violent. During that time, Dominic Maker relocated to Los Angeles, California, where he wrote for artists including James Blake, Travis Scott, Slowthai, Rosalía, and Jay-Z; meanwhile, Kai Campos, his partner, whom he met at London Southbank university, remained in London, the city from which Mount Kimbie released their breakout material: Crooks & Lovers on Scuba‘s Hotflush Recordings and Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, their debut on Warp, on which they refashioned dubstep into innovative new forms by drawing on ambient, garage, and electronica. In 2018, Campos curated a techno-driven DJ-Kicks mix. In 2022, towards the end of the pandemic, the pair released MK 3.5: Die Cuts | City Planning, a collection of his solo tracks from them both.

The Sunset Violent sees them come together in the studio together again. To record it, they decamped to a disused frat house in the American Yucca Valley, with little nearby other than a couple of saloons, a basin with a history of alleged UFO sightings and, a not-bad sushi restaurant.

There, they began working on an album inspired by eclectic pleasures: the dark derangement of Roald Dahl short stories coming to life in Maker’s lyrics, reflective of his “chaotic” recent personal life; and the earnest directness of local country radio stations on the duo’s melodies. Campos, meanwhile, found himself reaching for his guitar like never before in his contributions. An instrument that has always had a place in the Kimbie sonic tapestry, this time it was allowed to lead the way.

The resulting album, finished in London—to where Maker has now returned—with longtime confidante Dillip Harris and their now full-time band mates Andrea Balency-Béarn and Marc Pell, is 37 minutes of Mount Kimbie at their “most daring and their most giddily infectious,” we’re told. To learn more about it, we caught up with Mount Kimbie as they prepared for the live tour that will follow the album’s release.

01. It’s been seven years since your last album. How are you both?

Kai Campos: I think we’re great. Very well rounded and content human beings, in general. We’re good..yeah, we’re good.

02. Where are you both living right now?

KC: I live in Haringey [London] now. I used to be in Stoke Newington but there were too many parents. Haringey is pretty good for that, although the parent community is definitely growing. But all of this area is so expensive that it’s practically impossible to have a family here. It’s a bit unnerving actually. We lived in London Fields before and I realized one day that I hadn’t seen anyone over the age of 30 for a few days. It was really upsetting. Like this is some bizarre never-never land.

DM: I’m in Kings Cross, also in London, for a bit. I moved back from Los Angeles, on the border of West Hollywood, last month. The first Sunday roast hit very hard and also Weetabix and Branston Pickle.

03. What’s the last thing that made you laugh and why?

KC: I’m pretty big on cat memes. At lunchtime, I sent a couple to my girlfriend. About a cat peeking around a corner, watching you eat like 20 Oreos after you’ve meticulously measured out the cat treats and given him the stingiest amount. It’s just the cat giving you the side-eye. Yeh, I forwarded that!

DM: Well, we’re in the middle of rehearsals so there’s loads of stuff that makes you laugh. It can be the stupidest stuff. I’m trying to think about the last thing…I’m trying to wade through the things that aren’t appropriate to say!

Ok, here we go. It’s funny because the rehearsal room we’re in is connected to a café and the lady who runs the place is a real character. She seems obsessed with telling people to sit down. Literally everyone who walks into the building, she tells them: “Sit down!” There’s something about it that tickles me!

04. Off the back of the album you’re doing a tour. What’s your favorite place to tour to

DM: Honestly, I’m pumped on all of them because we’re only really doing key cities. I’m really excited to go back to Denmark, because I love Denmark. The US leg will be cool, particularly Los Angeles, because I have a lot of friends there now and we haven’t actually played there in a long time!

KC: Glastonbury!

DM: Yeh, Glastonbury is going to be sick. That was announced recently.

05. Of course, The Sunset Violent, your new album, is coming now. How are you feeling about it?

KC: I’m pumped. The period of time since our last album, seven years, sounds like a really long time between records, but it just kind of flew by. I’m just really excited to sort of get up off my arse and like to do something. And to have people hear it. Because each time you do an album you’re trying to create a new thing, a new world or a new experience, and you hope that people like it. You try to push yourself as an artist and I feel like we’ve done that and that makes it exciting to share it with people. I feel like a teenager. I’m giddy!

DM: I feel the same. I just want as many people to hear this as possible, and I don’t feel like that about every record. We’re both feeling really refreshed and maybe just a bit more confident in the whole body of work. We are really passionate about the whole package of this album: the artwork, the sort of work we’ve done behind the scenes; like the project as a whole feels really fresh and exciting!

06. How do you find the balance between innovation and staying true to what your fanbase likes?

KC: We’ve been lucky that we’ve always had people around us, even with our first record, that are very supportive of us, sort of, chasing down our uniqueness as human beings and that being a strength. It has never occurred to me at any point to do anything other than that.

We wouldn’t be able to make another record like Crooks and Lovers. It would just suck. I think, essentially, if you chase down things that are interesting, which are normally things you don’t know how to do well, that’s normally a fertile period…when you’re learning how to do something. If you really dig into that then I think you’ll end up sounding something like yourself and I think to some extent that’s where the balance is.

DM: Yes, we’re blessed to have a fanbase that, for the most part, embraces our necessity to explore different flavors of sound with each record. It would be terrible for me to make music only because I think it’s what someone else likes; I’ve never have done that and I never will. I’m always trying to push myself and make music that I can’t get out my head.

“I’m always trying to push myself and make music that I can’t get out my head.”

Dominic Maker

07. How do you feel the album compares to your earlier albums?

DM: I’d like to think that at the time of release, we’ve always thought that that album is the best collection of work we’ve done so far in our career!

KC: Way better, I don’t know what we were thinking with those other ones. This one’s the best!

08. Obviously you’ve both been working independently of each other in different countries for some time. How did that influence this new record?

DM: I’ve been working a lot in America, in rap music and pop, where flow is everything and every melody has to be as essential and straight to vein as possible. I definitely tried to bring that energy into the vocal writing and delivery!

KC: It’s given us both very different reference points and the larger gap between them has resulted in something very unexpected and exciting.

09. How have your production techniques evolved over this time?

KC: It was different this time because fundamentally we were both doing very different things [in the studio]. In the past there was much more of a crossover. An interesting thing was that to some extent you were much more able to observe somewhat objectively what the other person was doing and offer encouragement and support because you were not directly involved in the same way. A lot of the initial instrumentation stuff, like initial ideas, was where my head was at, and that really kind of came to life in a way that was exciting when Dom started writing lyrics and coming up with vocal ideas.

At that point we hadn’t really said, ‘Oh, we are going to make this guitar and vocal album at all,’ but I think Dom, coming from years of doing lots of session work in LA was so used to contributing melodies and bits and pieces in a really healthily detached way….he was just coming up with things and saying ‘See if this works, see if this works, see if this works.’ Like any collaboration should be, when you add these things together other things open up in front of you….you get more than the sum of the parts. Something happens when you put them together that is slightly unexpected..then you keep doing that and you refine it.

10. My understanding is that the album was written while out in California’s Yucca Valley, and it’s inspired by the area’s history of alleged UFO sightings. How is this reflected in the sound?

KC: We were just looking for a place that we could go to that was not too far from LA, but it didn’t have many distractions. It was just like a classic writing trip. I’ve never had a good experience of doing that in the past and I’ve always been skeptical about the geographical aspect going into the creative process. Fundamentally, it has always been more interesting to operate in something that is somehow transcendent of that. So it’s not like, ‘Oh it’s rainy in London so I’m going to make this melancholic record.’ Life’s more interesting than that and it seems like that is a weird, arbitrary restriction to have.

Therefore, I didn’t think too much about going to the desert to do it. It was just kind of a quiet place we could go to and see where we’re at without too many distractions.

But as the music was being written, even pretty early on….it sounded very…desert rocky. Because the guitar was a big part of the writing process for me..like writing with the guitar..I instantly slammed a bit of reverb on it and it sounded very desert rocky. Which I think I was interested in before I got to the desert but it was funny that we were in the desert and it was just very fitting in a way

Then there’s this element of storytelling that you do after you’ve finished and you try to make sense of it

When we finished the demos in Yucca Valley, I really didn’t anticipate that basically everything we did there would end up on the record. It was such an amazing success rate for the stuff we wrote out there.

Even when we left, I didn’t know if it was any good…because demos sound like..demos. Back in London I went to the studio and basically there was so much guitar work. We were in an Airbnb not a studio, so I just recorded the guitar through some nice stuff but not through any amps. So, I thought: ‘Now I’m a proper guitarist I have to go to an expensive studio and do it all again through some nice vintage amps and replace all the LinnDrum with real drums and make this like an expensive-sounding album.

I got to the second week of being in this nice expensive studio and I was just killing the vibe of all the demos! One by one I was destroying all the songs that we’d written so I ended up for the most part going back to the demos and kind of cleaning bits up that needed cleaning up but really trying to dig into what we’d done there

It’s a classic tale, then when you look back at it, you realize that that period, even stupid stuff like what was on the radio—lots of country pop music—was an essential character and an essential reference point for us. Not necessarily just the desert but a certain type of American and American sensibility viewed from an English person’s viewpoint. That is a fundamental theme that runs through it.

11. How long were you there for?

DM: Six weeks!

KC: Which seems insane. That’s such a long time. It was the 2022 European Football Championships, which England lost in the final, so we were watching that. In California, the games were 7am, 9am, and 12pm, so for the most part we were getting up to watch the early game. And without that I think we would have gone completely mad! You know, a very well organized tournament really gave us some reference to time and place!

12. For this album, you two have been joined by Andrea Balency-Béarn and Marc Pell. Tell us about that.

DM: Well, they’re just part of the band so we wanted to make sure that other people know they’re part of the band. But unlike on previous albums, they were hands-on in actually making the record rather than coming in after it had been finished They really contributed to the development of the ideas that Kai and I had made early on. Like Andrea, Kai, and I all got in together to work on the vocals. Mark came in and had ideas with percussion and various things. They’re both just kind of endlessly enthusiastic and brilliant musicians so it’s great to have them bring that energy into the studio and that really helped to shape the record really. Plus, having everything green-lit by people who you care about and respect is really important and the process of making music with others is something that we’ve become increasingly excited by. It’s great to just get out of your own head a bit and to see it from the perspective of other people around you whom you trust.

KC: Ye, they’re a big part of the sound of what we’ve been doing for the past few years, like since the last record really. There are other acts, particularly in electronic music, that write an album and then employ session musicians to bring that to life on stage. After a period that we have not been on the road, they would be assessing who would come in and do that job and we’ve never had a discussion about who would play with us in the band; it’s always going to be Mark and Andrea! They are as fundamental as me and Dom when it comes to the live stuff and that’s what informed a lot of our new music. Everyone has different roles, and people come and go at different times, and me and Dom are more central at all times, but Mark and Andrea are just a non-negotiable in terms of their presence.

13. Collaboration has played an important role across your career. What does it bring to you?

DM: It’s pretty mad when you get excited by a sample or a synth or a certain type of instrument, and you get fixated on that. But what’s better than that is finding a person where you’re like: ‘Shit, everything they do feels exciting and inspiring.’ That’s on another level! There are only a few people in the world that I consider to have that. It’s our band and it’s Archie [Marshall, who operates under the pseudonym King Krule] and James [Blake] really.

Archie, he would just be a member of the band. He feels like that. It feels annoying that we have to put him as a feature sometimes. Because he has always been someone who brings something exciting and that spark that we are always looking for.

Like every minute when we’re making music we’re always hunting.…we’re craving the next hit of that. Surrounding yourself with people who are like that and whom you trust and who take ideas down a road you would never have imagined is the most exciting bit of music, because certainly releasing stuff is cool but once it’s out it’s out. It’s the making of music and the presentation of that music on stage as a band …that’s the stuff that I remember and always will!

KC: When it’s good, you get to open creative doors forever. We’ve been very blessed to work with some incredible people that leave something with you.

14. What music can you not stop listening to right now, and why?

DM: I love a band from Atlanta called Sword II. They’ve just put a record out. I have also been really following and really happy for Wiki, who has done the record with The Alchemist. Everything he touches I love.

KC: I am listening to BBC Radio 3 from about 5 am until I leave [the studio] at like 8pm. There’s enough going on in the day, music-wise. And by the time you’ve finished mixing a record you’re kind of just over music. But there’s tonnes of stuff that influenced the record, like things I’ve seen over the past year that really excited me. I really enjoyed this Still House Plants gig that I went to. I would go and see them any time they were playing. They were a very important voice.

15. How much weight do you put on reviews?

KC: I’m definitely interested in them, to what people think of the album, but it depends on how much weight you put on them and what you do with that information. Like, I really want to know what people think. The whole thing is communication. You’re trying to speak to people. Not like they’re fucking idiots.

DM: You’re trying to make them feel something.. Or feel good.

KC: Yeh, when somebody gets what you are trying to do. Even if it’s in a way beyond words, like they really like the music, that’s a meaningful exchange of human beings and that’s the whole point of doing what we do

But at the same time you should accept that what you’re doing is not going to be for everyone. And that’s totally cool. If the whole thing is about validation then you’re approaching it from the wrong direction. If you have something you feel great about then you kind of don’t mind. You’re confident that there will be enough people who like it.

“If the whole thing is about validation then you’re approaching it from the wrong direction.”

Kai campos

16. What would constitute your perfect day off?

KC: Tennis, watching and playing. I went to the Rotterdam Open recently, watching Alex de Minaur and Grigor Dimitrov. Then the next day I played like three hours of tennis. Like a pretty good weekend. I’m trying to think of something cooler…

DM: I haven’t been in London for a long time so there’s a lot of people I need to catch up with, so probably just seeing friends! Maybe going for a proper English roast dinner!

KC: Yeh, it’s not the best but my favorite pub is The Victoria in Paddington. I’ve just got some weird connection with going there on a Sunday. It’s a good walk through Hyde Park.

17. Dead or alive, who is your dream person to go for dinner with?

DM: I would love to go to dinner with..with..erm…probably someone like Zinedine Zidane. I would like to talk with him about legendary moments and kind of just be annoying. And try to get into his head. He’s supposed to be a bit of a psycho isn’t he?

KC: Yeh, you don’t know anything about him, do you? Can you remember the mad Christmas Instagram post he put up in matching onesie’s with his wife? It’s soo off-brand.

DM: Yeh, I would like to understand more about that guy.

KC: For me, not a tennis player, because I think they’re pretty boring in general. I would also go down the football route. At the moment it would be Ange Postecoglou, for some hero worship, or someone like Teddy Sheringham.

18. If you could give one piece of advice to a young artist, what would it be?

KC: Just that whatever you’re making now is not the last thing you’re going to make so you don’t need to represent every single side of you each time you’re making something. I think that can be a problem when getting stuff done. You can present something that is from only one perspective and that is a more interesting way to work than trying to present the definitive version of yourself all the time. Just write from where you’re at in that moment, or where you’re not at; don’t let the fuckers get to you in terms of making you define yourself!

DM: Yeh, I’d agree. Take the foot off the gas with that sort of thinking. And just enjoy the process of making the music or whatever art you’re making. Enjoy it and try to remember it.

19. Do you think young producers should take time before putting their first stuff out?

KC: When you sit on stuff for too long it sort of rots, you know, and loses some vitality. For the most part, I think there’s way more damage done by sitting on stuff than there is by releasing it. At the same time, if you don’t feel pumped when you finish it, then that’s a separate thing. But if you feel pumped then you should push it out. But also don’t lie to yourself about whether or not it’s good or not!

For me personally, the problem is the other way around. I don’t let myself get pumped by it because I’m too overly critical at too early a stage. That’s another battle! The not-very-good side of perfectionism. Though it’s not really perfectionism..it’s more egotistical..you can’t put anything out until you know it’s perfect and everyone is going to love you. It’s putting yourself in the center of the story, and that’s a trap.

DM: It’s a mirage! I think feeling is most important; if the work you’ve made feels good to you and makes you happy then trust that instinct and always hunt it. Fear or indecision should have no place in your creation!

“Fear or indecision should have no place in your creation!”

Dominic Maker

20. Where do you see yourself artistically in 10 years?

DM: I don’t care what it is as long as I’m happy and peaceful in my mind.

KC: Very experienced!

The Sunset Violent LP is scheduled for April 5 release. You can pre-order it here.





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