Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
When we arrived in Austin this spring for South By Southwest, we ran into Mike Tyson at the airport. He was the first person we saw on the opening Sunday of the week-long festival. Iron Mike was leaving town from the film portion of SXSW and we were just getting there. He was the person that we saw the least that week - just a fly-by, a quick brush. He had walked by us, in a deserted part of the terminal before we'd even had a chance to realize what had happened. We got a good night's sleep that night and had a leisurely start to our tapings the following day, mostly just getting our BBQ and beer on, down there in a warm sun that we hadn't seen in months. It was the next day - that Tuesday - when things were really kicking up and one of the first sessions we recorded was this one with London dubstep duo Mount Kimbie. Like their buddy James Blake, they had an exhausting week ahead of them, with very little down time, and this looked as if it was our only chance during the week to get them into the studio, so we took it. Kai Campos and Dom Maker had already been in town for a few days, like us, and they'd played a pre-fest show the night before. Luckily for them, they were renting out the shack at the edge of Big Orange's property - literally 50 feet from the front door of the studio - a former junk hole of a place that got a new owner over the last year and we heard that she had somehow sucked out the cat piss smell that it was soaked in when we had slept there. They were dragging a bit when they wandered over this first time and we thought that it was going to be the only time we saw them all week, worked to the bone as they were going to be, but they turned out to be anything but a fleeting Tyson spotting for us. They took up residence in our lawn chairs. They watched countless games of horseshoes, the dust and dirt kicking up on their toes as they leaned back, sunglasses on, obviously enjoying the sunshine piling down on them as well. Campos and Maker seemed to show up on cue around lunchtime, when we had the grill smoking. They knew where the condiments and the chips were and we liked having them around. They became out trusted townies of the week, a long way from home for the lot of us. It's the music that they make that would have been lovely to have had pumping out on some outdoor speakers while this grilling, this shoeing and this sun-grabbing was all going on, here in this oasis, tucked off from the melee and the madness of downtown Austin, a city overrun with people - some good, most of them those that you'd avoid at all costs. The song "Carbonated," played here, features a sample of a girl speaking and she takes us into a defeated, but still somewhat perky mind, a place that we could stomach living within because we're so familiar with it. Overtop the first strands of the sound collage pulling itself in, getting echo-y, gaining a shadow like that from a distant swimming pool chatter or the din of a faraway highway, she says, "I love when a balloon gets all fucked up and pops and everyone gets scared. I used to call my dad St. Nick cause he fat as hell and he always walking around with a red hat on. I believe that the Earth is a big ball of shit. That's why the dinosaurs died. And everyone gonna die sooner or later. That's why I love cigarettes so much. I hope I don't die for a long time though. I still got things I wanna look at. This town stinks. Fuck this town." The music that Campos and Maker make to accompany this personal mantra is that of subtle indifference, but also something fertile, as if a plant could find its way into growing out of it, giving a few more conditions going in its favor. Thinking about balloons, cigarettes and dinosaurs the way that this woman does might have been what they were doing, reclined in our lawn chairs, eating our hamburgers, thinking that, in spite of it all, this feels pretty okay.