Mount Kimbie talk us through Love What Survives, track by track
With the release of the new album, we got in touch with the band to give us an in-depth look at the record, one track at a time
Mount Kimbie’s third album, Love What Survives is out today, and frankly it’s a belter on heavy rotation in the Crack office. With features from Micachu, King Krule and James Blake, the record is charged with an emotional resonance, and reminds us of what made Mount Kimbie such an exiting band back in 2010 when Crooks and Lovers came out. True to the duo’s previous form, the record is packed with intricacy, and with the aforementioned collaborations there’s much to delve into. We got in touch with Kai Campos from the band to take us through each track on the record and help unpack what’s within.
Read on to find out what went into the making of the record, and read our review of the album here.
Four Years And A Day
The idea that started this song was one of the oldest that made it on to the record. We tried to develop the idea so many times but nothing really felt right, and in the early tracklists of the album it wasn’t included.
The night before I was going to head off to mix the album with Dilip, I gave it one last go and finished it in about 2 hours. When you’re finishing an album it can feel like you have figured out a puzzle and answers come easier. I feel like there’s a sense of relief in the track that comes through and it does embody some of what I wanted to do with the record in general.
Blue Train Lines ft. King Krule
Originally I heard Archy’s music like most other people: online. I loved the music but there was also a feeling that what he was doing and his compositional style would really work with us. I went down to a show of his at Corsica studios but he was being mobbed after so I just emailed him after that and he was keen to give it a go. That was in 2012/13. We stay in touch and work with a lot of the same people now.
In terms of writing, we share our ideas with Archy really early on. Just the original little thing that might turn in to a song. There were a couple that I thought he might go for and then we just bounced ideas around and built the song like a regular band situation. Archy’s ideas inform the music very much.
I remember someone had come over to visit the studio and I had just bought a new little drum machine (SoundMaster Stix 305). I was showing them how it worked and the beat for this track came out. I feel like if you are showing someone how to use something and trying to teach someone, the critical part of your brain switches off for a minute and a good idea will just come.
I knew it had enough life in it to become a song and was one of those ones that writes itself – one element tells you how to write the next. The bassline just came fully formed. I was pretty heavy on the chorus (the effect) on this album in general. That, and using the bass guitar as a more top-line melodic element, instantly references Peter Hook, something I probably would have avoided in the past but it didn’t bother me on this record.
Marilyn ft. Micachu
Mica came to the studio, listened to a few things we were working on, heard what was probably a one minute version of this and said she’d have some ideas for it. We listened to it and Mica wrote and recorded a tonne of vocal takes really quickly. Again this then led how we wrote the song. Her vocal delivery and lyrics on this are one of my favourite things on the record.
I bought a classic and very limited sampler called the EMU SP-1200. The practicalities of using this over a computer make it an absolutely insane thing to do and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone, but it of course has it’s own thing and I had sampled a bunch of kalimba recordings in to it. Other than that there’s very little sampling on this album in general.
You Look Certain (I’m Not So Sure) ft Andrea Balency
We [met when we] did a show together in Paris years ago and then Andrea rented my room in London while I was on tour (which is the beginning of a very long story). This one was actually quite fully formed before it suddenly clicked that Andrea’s voice would be interesting. I wanted it to be quite a dry counter point to the guitar that was sloshing around in a rough kind of way. The guitar is a funny tuning and running through a few pedals.
The song sounds to me like a make believe band in my head. I wanted it to sound kind of fake in a way. The drums are from the crappy but brilliant Korg DDD-1 (also on Marilyn). When I heard the snare, it was like “Yes! That is the shit snare sound I have been looking for!” It’s utilitarian and flat in a beautiful way that frees up all this space for other elements to flourish.
Dom played this beautiful loop that he’d cut up from a recording of our friend and old drummer Tony playing the piano. It didn’t seem to want anything else doing to it and when that’s the case, you have to respect that – it has a beginning, middle and end in it’s own way.
We Go Home Together ft. James Blake
This was one of the earlier ideas but again it took a long time to figure out how to finish it. In some ways it was also a signpost to me about which direction felt good to be moving in. For whatever reason, everything I was writing for a while was way, way faster than what I was used to. I think I thought I could literally outrun overthinking the ideas.
The lyrics are a bit of collage really so it’s hard to give a unified message about it. To me, they come across quite dark in a way. There’s something demented about the song in general. I think the ‘classic’ Mount Kimbie sound is basically me not being able to play keyboard very well and writing progressions that are over a very small range for fear of forgetting the first bit I played. I actually thought this one was a real departure in some ways.
How We Got By ft. James Blake
It’s a pretty weighty one, started life as just the piano part and got heavier and heavier as it went along. I sequenced the piano on a really cool app, I cannot find the name of it but basically recording bits of arpeggios at different speeds. I may never be able to play it but we were just rehearsing and Andrea is absolutely killing it. This is the track that was most sent back and forth between London and LA as Dom and James added their interpretations over many sessions.