Knife Party on life after Pendulum: “Drum & bass had so many taboos”

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2012 has been a monster year for Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen, the two masterminds behind the Knife Party project. With their former band Pendulum on hiatus (“It just felt like time to do something else,” Swire told triple j), the producers dropped a pair of EPs in 12 months, 100% No Modern Talking and Rage Valley, in between creating sweaty mayhem at concert venues and festivals around the world. This New Year’s sees Knife Party return to Australia for Summadayze, Summafieldayze, Origin NYE and Shore Thing, and you can expect some raucous homecoming sets.

The duo has been so stratospheric this year that Mixmag devoted the cover of its December issue to Knife Party, professing “the first-ever interview with the hottest duo in dance music” (back in January 2012, inthemix managed to get one half of the team to talk about the project). Part of the Mixmag takeover was the 30-minute mix, Clever Title Like Deadmau5 Would Use, featuring Knife Party weapons Rage Valley, Bonfire and Centipede alongside The Loops Of Fury, Monsta, Excision & Datsik and Labrinth.

For the feature interview, Mixmag witnessed Knife Party lead “a rave cauldron” at the Shakedown Festival outside Brighton, throwing down a set of signature “seizure music”. Mixmag’s journalist asks Swire and McGrillen if the U.S. ‘EDM’ explosion has shaped their ‘genre-blind’ sound.

“We’re much less afraid of doing whatever we want than when we were in Pendulum,” they respond. “In the drum ’n’ bass scene there were so many taboos – you couldn’t use trance synths, you couldn’t have white male vocals, you couldn’t use guitars. If you played house in your set, people would throw things at you.

“I remember seeing [industry] people on AIM with messages like “DON’T SEND ANY DRUMSTEP SHIT”. Considering drumstep is basically just half-tempo drum ’n’ bass, you get an idea of how picky people were. We really hated that and almost consciously ran against it, which was probably one of the reasons why Pendulum were ostracised from the scene to an extent. Things are much better now – any sample is OK, any instrument is OK, you can play six different tempos in a set and the crowd appreciates the contrast, especially in the US. We love it.”

As for what’s on the production agenda for Knife Party, they told Mixmag: “At the moment we’re just trying to maintain a steady stream of EPs in between touring. Aside from that, we don’t really have any immediate goals. We found goals to be quite counter-productive with our previous project, so at the moment we’re just trying to enjoy ourselves and make music.” Expect to hear some fire-power from Knife Party’s upcoming EP on Ear Storm Records (slated for an early 2013 release) when they land for New Year’s.