Interview with Julian Hamilton of The Presets: Awesome Shit

The PresetsWhen a musician describes his need to make music as being just as fundamental as his physiological need to make number two’s, you know he’s not messing around. In fact, it’s a pretty effective way for Julian Hamilton—one half of the Aussie electro group The Presets—to get across a very simple point. And while it might sound off-putting in some ways, for the otherwise charming, polite and very entertaining keyboardist and vocalist, the way he views his trade is cut and dry. Music stirs inside of him, and he must get it out.

And based on the duo’s success on their home turf, as well as in the States and across Europe, whatever Hamilton and his partner-in-crime Kim Moyes have been doing, has worked an absolute treat. Last year, the duo travelled the globe on the heels of their sophomore record Apocalypso, which scored the lads a handful of Australia’s most prestigious Record Industry Association 2008 (ARIA) Awards, including Album Of The Year, Best Group, and Best Dance Release.

This week, The Presets are hitting Webster Hall with their funky, uplifting and infectious electro-pop beats for their second New York show in six months. Speaking on the phone from his Sydney home, Hamilton tells The Aquarian about the group’s whirlwind year, as well as what it feels like to have finally reached insane levels of success that the pair had dreamt about for years.

You guys are home after a long time on the road. What are some of the best things? What are the luxuries?

Oh, it’s so good. Things like gardening—I’ve actually finished the vegetable patch and all the vegetables are starting to come through now, so that’s wonderful.

That’s so rock star of you.

Oh, mate, you wouldn’t believe how many myths I’ll destroy if you ask the right questions. But yeah, it’s wonderful; being able to go out and eat good quality food relatively cheap, god, and being able going to go to the beach, and not even going to the beach, just being near the beach and knowing it’s there . There are just so many things we love about being at home.

I saw you guys at Webster Hall last September and you put on one hell of a show with Cut Copy. Now you’re headlining your own gig at the same venue. How does an electro-pop group from Australia like yourselves manage to make it in the States?

I don’t know. I don’t even know what making it is in the States. I mean, it’s weird. We’ve played in New York probably 10 or 15 times now and the first time we played was at a tiny little club in the Lower East Side for about 50 people and it just got gradually bigger and bigger from there. Hopefully we just put on a really good show and people tell their friends about it and they come back the next time. The first time we sold out the Bowery Ballroom we were thrilled because I remember big bands that I liked playing at the Bowery Ballroom. I thought, ‘Wow, we’ve finally made it in New York,’ you know.

I guess it also helps in the early days having a label like Modular. They’ve got a bit of cool cred and maybe opened some doors. But after a while you’ve just got to put on a good show and take responsibility of your career in your own hands and try to make it good. And it’s worked.