With their hugely anticipated HI VIZ LP only a few weeks away, The Presets just dropped a vivid new track called “Downtown Shutdown”. Like their recent hits “Do What You Want” and “14U+14ME”, it’s another undeniable anthem but this time it’s a very different kind of party. Watch here
In some ways “Downtown Shutdown” is the long lost flipside to the Sydney duo’s protest classic, “My People”. Although both songs share similar lyrical themes, the new one replaces angular musical intensity with a sunny boogiedown. It shakes off the shackles via raised hands instead of clenched fists.
“These lyrics had been bouncing around in my head for ages”, recalls Julian Hamilton. “I remember seeing footage of the Occupy Wall Street protests years ago and feeling inspired at how passionate humans can literally shut down a city. I always figured the words ‘Downtown Shutdown’ would eventually be set to a more late-night, aggressive, banging Presets track like ‘My People’ but fortunately Kim had the idea of taking it in pretty much the opposite direction.”
“I thought some of those protests actually felt more like celebrations”, explains Kim Moyes, “so I wanted a feel-good, Sunday afternoon, street party vibe for this one. We dug into a lot of 80’s New York block party and disco music – things like The Sugarhill Gang, Was (Not Was), Baby Oliver’s Primetime, and especially Malcom McLaren’s ‘Duck Rock’ album. We loved the feel of that record, the way McLaren fused Hip Hop beats with Latin American music and the beautiful Soweto choir.”
The duo enlisted their friend Michael DiFrancesco (AKA Touch Sensitive) to record some live bass and that really helped bring things into focus. Then they added a choir and the whole track finally fell into place.
“Initially we stacked a bunch of my vocals on top on one another to make a pretend choir but it clearly wasn’t cutting it”, explains Julian Hamilton. “So we tracked down some real African voices in Shepparton of all places and that made a big difference.”
The St Paul’s Lutheran Church Choir is comprised of a group of former refugees from Burundi, D.R. Congo and South Sudan now living in rural Victoria. Appropriately enough The Presets’ collaboration with this gifted immigrant community provided another link to “My People” given that song’s strong stance on refugee treatment.
“Their voices were incredible and their enthusiasm was infectious”, says Kim Moyes, “they really helped bring the track to life. Later, we also got some Jamaican singers in LA to also throw down some more vocal layers on the choruses, which added extra vibe to the track too. Now it feels like a genuine celebration. It’s still a protest but more of a protest party.”
Joining the likes of Odesza, Galantis, and Alison Wonderland, The Presets will be bringing their brand of Aussie electro-punk stateside to Life Is Beautiful Music & Arts Festival in Las Vegas this September. More North American tour dates to be announced soon.