In 2003, two young Sydneysiders embarked on a musical journey that would shape the Australian electronic music scene forever.
Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes, otherwise known as The Presets, had humble beginnings crafting beats in their inner-city studio and experimenting with DJ sets in intimate Sydney clubs. They were propelled into the forefront of the Australian music scene, winning five ARIA awards, including Album of the Year in 2009 and the APRA Songwriters of the Year award the following year, as well as being recognised as the Best Live Act at the In The Mix Awards in 2012, all of which further solidified their reputation as exceptional musicians. Two decades on, a recent visit to a legendary Sydney nightclub stirred a nostalgic fire within the duo, compelling them to celebrate their 20th anniversary by returning to their roots. Announcing their 20th Anniversary DJ Tour, The Presets will ignite dancefloors across the country from July to October. We had the privilege of sitting down with Julian Hamilton ahead of The Presets much-anticipated return to the Gold Coast, diving into discussions about the tour, new music, cherished memories of the Gold Coast, and the most important question of them all: what do his kids think of their music?
In the face of widespread ticket-buying hesitancy post-COVID, how does it feel to have so many sold-out shows?
It feels really good! We’re really, really happy, and it’s not lost on us how tricky it is. In the old days, we’d do five shows across the country, and they’d be really big. And so this time around, we thought we would do more shows; it’s almost 30 shows now, but in much, much smaller little rooms. We wanted to provide a different kind of experience to our fans in a more intimate party environment. When we had this 20th anniversary of the band coming up, we also thought, What is the best way to celebrate it? And one of the ways we thought would be to get to some of those regional places that we either haven’t played in decades or have never even been able to visit before. Because of this, too, it’s not viable to take the full band and 20 crew, so it’s more of a back-to-basics DJ party, and we’re really looking forward to getting some of these smaller centres.
What’s your secret to staying energised on such a huge tour?
Gosh, we’ve been doing it for 20 years, so maybe we’ve learned how to pace ourselves! I guess we’re trying to think of it as like, I don’t know, playing finals footy or something, and we’re going to maintain energy until the very end! I’m sure we’ll be able to do it. We’ll just make sure we try to get relatively early nights and keep eating lots of fruit and vegetables!
I’ve seen you in the past with your band; how did the DJ show come about?
The DJ thing is something we started doing post-COVID. When everything just went really weird and then suddenly promoters were asking, “Hey, can we have the guys come down and DJ? ‘Cause you know, it’s a strange vibe, and we can’t afford all the production, all the staging, and everything.” So we thought we’d give it a go, and we found the experience super fun, really exciting, and rewarding. So we thought, there’s something here; this is really fun for us to do. We can get down and play some of our favourite songs from our catalogue and some obscure remixes of our music, but we can also play music by other artists who have influenced us, and we love that. It sort of makes it more of a house party vibe, based around the whole Presets universe, not just our own music. So we’ve really enjoyed doing it, and people at the gigs seem to really enjoy it too. So that’s why we thought, this might be a really good way to celebrate 20 years.
Do you have any plans to perform with a band again?
Yeah, we definitely will. There’ll be festivals and shows, and we’ll make new music, and we’ll still continue to do that.
What can the Gold Coast expect on July 28?
We’ll play a lot of our own music and remixes of our music from over the years, with a bit more of a club focus. A lot of different stuff, certainly a lot of music that we love, like obscure techno tracks, but also big party tracks from acts like Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, Basement Jaxx, and all those bands who influenced us. Really, it’s kind of just like hanging out with the Presets. I think we will probably be going for around two hours.
Do you have any stories or memories about your past visits to the Gold Coast?
Oh gosh! Yeah, so many! One of our first ever shows in Australia was at elsewhere. And we played with Cut Copy in like, 2004. It’s crazy that was one of the first shows we ever did up there—we got paid 100 bucks! Yeah, that was really fun. And then over the years, obviously on the Gold Coast, Big Day Out was really special; it was probably the most wildest, loosest Big Day Out. It was just so dirty—always dust and mud, and it always got to be kind of like “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” or something. Playing the Boiler Room at the Gold Coast Big Day Out was always the craziest. We have very fond memories of playing that stage a few times over the years as well.
What’s your favourite song to perform?
Good question! Everything kind of changes, and sometimes the songs you think are going to go well and you really look forward to playing don’t go as well as you think. And then there are other tunes that you maybe weren’t thinking about that the crowd responds to really well, and it’s kind of a strange one! But I mean, certainly a song like ‘My People’ is probably our biggest ever hit. And you know, whenever we play that, the crowd tends to respond to it pretty well. So that’s always a fun one to perform live, and then there’s also an awesome remix of that track; actually, we’ve been playing that more recently at the DJ shows, and the people really go crazy for that!
You alluded to new music earlier; Can we expect new music from The Presets anytime soon?
Yeah, it’s always up in the pipeline; it’s not quite ready just yet. But there’ll definitely be some out soonish. There’s always going to be new tunes; there are all these new ideas we want to explore and new things we want to do. But we’ll get through this tour and see what happens next!
You’ve played at some huge festivals and venues, including Glastonbury, Exit Festival, and more. Is there a venue or festival that feels like your ‘spiritual homeland’, so to speak?
Sorry to repeat an answer, but the Gold Coast Big Day Out was always pretty wild, and that definitely felt like “our people”. Over the years, there were certain venues overseas that felt like home. Like King Tut‘s band room in Glasgow, Scotland, that was always a really rocking show, and it felt like Australia. I remember the catering at the Spanish festivals being amazing! I always love that. We like big festivals in Germany, like the Melt Festival over there, which was crazy fun with great electronic artists that we really loved. I also remember tiny little shows like The Basement on a Thursday night in Cleveland, Ohio. Playing to 80 people—those shows were sick. Honestly, there have been so many fun shows over the years, some of them really big and some of them really tiny.
So, do your kids like The Presets music?
Not really! I mean, they like that it’s their Dad. But it’s not really their cup of tea. It’s funny because I’ll be in the car, and sometimes I’ll put on a local radio show with a techno mix or something, and they’re like, “Oh God, this is boring dad music!”. I’m like, far out; I never thought this music would be called boring dad music. They’re 13 and 9, so maybe they’re still yet to discover the Rave revival because it’s definitely happening out there.
Who’s supporting you on the Gold Coast?
The Presets will be performing at their SOLD OUT gig at Burleigh Bazaar on July 28, 2023 for their 20 Years in 20 Nights DJ Tour.
Click here for tickets and more tour dates.