Glam Adelaide caught up with one of Australia’s very best electronic acts, PNAU, ahead of their tour for new album Changa.
Changa looks like being one of the most exciting dance albums by an Australian act for a long time – and that’s saying something given Australia is in some kind of golden age of electronic music! Where have the more unique and innovative elements sounds come from?
We see ‘Changa’ as an alien technology, granting access to another world rather than just a dance album. It really is about the concepts and images conjured during the trance in which the vocals were spontaneously performed. The music was also performed live using preset sounds from 1980s synthesizers. The depth of the world that ‘Changa’ opens is infinite and it is going to be the world we inhabit for all our creative endeavours henceforth!
What are the lyrical and narratives themes that are interwoven into this album?
‘Changa’ is an album about Kafkaesque metamorphosis but the lyrics were derived from autonomic sounds in an induced trance. The song titles belie the depth of the themes which may only be revealed through deep meditation techniques.
Amazing singles Chameleon and Go Bang feature Kira Divine, a singing, dancing, entertainment phenomenon who seems like she has come out of nowhere. Where did you meet her and how did you guys come about working with each other?
Kira was discovered by us whilst working with Empire of the Sun. She had an amazing energy which we knew would work so wonderfully with PNAU. As soon as we started recording her, we knew that she was indomitable.
The film clips for both tracks look like Rainbow Serpent Festival or Burning Man combined with the night scenes from Avatar. Who produced these clips and what is the inspiration behind them?
We tend to work with enlightened creatives who have an insatiable interest in the other world. ‘Chameleon’ was conceptualised, produced and directed by us but based on the visionary art of Juan Carlos Taminchi, a Peruvian shaman and artistic savant. ‘Go Bang’ is an extension into that world but with a higher budget. That was directed by Nick and an enlightened duo known as Toby + Pete.
There’s a real 90’s element to your synth sound on the aforementioned singles. It almost feels like we had much of 2000s dance music was inspired by the 80s and a touch of 70s disco and now we’re experiencing the 90’s again. Is there something to this, or have you guys organically found your way to a more synth chord heavy sound?
Our sounds are actually from the 80s but had a great popularity in the acid-house sound which peaked in popularity in the early 90s. They really are sounds of classic house music and something we returned to after realising our concepts were more important than our ability to program a synthesizer!
Much has been made of Elton John’s support of your band. In what ways has this taken shape?
Elton has so much power to change lives. His genius is able to bring greatness out of others who in turn change the world for the better. For us he gave the ultimate gift of his back-catalogue and the opportunity to have a number one album in the UK, which we probably never would achieve otherwise. We are looking forward to working with him again!
I’ve noticed you guys don’t play “The Truth” live much anymore (I’ve seen three of your shows this year). It’s one of the songs of yours I like the most with its unabashed pop sensibilities. Do you think you’ll ever bring it out live again?
‘The Truth’ is unnatural for Nick to sing, so it really isn’t aligned to our new direction and therefore doesn’t feel like a classic record to us. We really want to be authentic and true to ourselves, even if that upsets a few people along the way.
How often do you play with Adelaide’s own Tony Mitolo these days? We saw him play for you at the Royal Croquet Club closing party. Have you been to his pizza joint in McLaren Vale?
Tony Mitolo is an extraordinary musician and a guy we love to see whenever we can. We tried his pizza when we came for the Royal Croquet Club closing party. It was sublime!
Speaking of the closing party of the Croquet Club, that was one of the best live music events I’ve seen in Adelaide in recent years. What was it like for you playing in such a unique setting with the Torrens behind you?
We had a fabulous time at the Royal Croquet Club closing party! Possibly the best location we’ve ever played in Adelaide and really felt like we found our rhythm that night with the new show.
Nick seems to channel a different form of energy on stage at every show. What can we expect visually from your Adelaide show – how will it differ from your festival sets?
Nick is post-human so most people really can’t understand the level he operates on. But seriously, we don’t know what we’re going to get. He’s the phenomenon that drives the show, spurring us all to be greater every time we play whether it’s a festival or riotous club gig.
Pnau play Adelaide on December 28th at HQ. Tickets through Moshtix.