Along with a jam-packed tour, Set Mo are also set to release a song on the first Friday of every month for the rest of 2018. So far, we’ve heard their first single Nightmares, followed by Unity and, as of last week, Near featuring Asta.
The boys behind the feel-good tunes, Nick Drabble and Stu Turner, had a chat with Ruby Becker to discuss the idea behind the madness of their scattered 11-track release, their tour, and an upcoming party with us Canberrans.
The track a month schedule you’ve lined up is pretty unusual. Why did you decide to do individual releases as opposed to releasing an album or EP in full?
We actually spent a fair bit of time asking ourselves the same question. We basically just spent a lot of time over the past 12-18 months just doing lots of writing in Sydney, where we live, and around Australia – we went out to the country for ten days, to Adelaide. We even went to Europe last year and spent a whole month just dedicated to writing sessions in Berlin, London and Amsterdam.
When we got back at the end of last year, we looked at all the tracks and had like 40 ideas we had started and we were like ‘what are we gonna do with all these’. We started thinking about a body of work, an EP or album – that kind of thing. But listening to the songs, they were really different to all the singles we put out three years prior – different tempos, different styles, different moods.
We were super proud of all of it and the last thing we wanted to do was put it all out as a body of work and people just listen to the songs that were familiar and ignore the other tracks which happens in the quick streaming world of today.
If a song doesn’t get playlisted, you can see that it doesn’t get listened to much. It was more to give each track its own moment.
Was there any particular theory behind the order or timing of songs?
The biggest consideration with ordering, for us, is to show people that variation and depth of sound. So, making sure what we put out is quite different from the last. We just want to show people the journey, we don’t want to just be putting out three club songs in a row, we want to really mix it up.
Typically, up until now, we’ve made each track a similar tempo, vocal-based, house things. Whereas this time we’ve been experimenting with stuff that’s like a bit darker and moodier, stuff that’s a bit more upbeat and fun, and stuff that’s instrumental. When we were in Europe, we were listening to a lot of the earlier electronic albums that we would listen to as kids.
What we took from that is that you don’t have to do the same thing 15 times for it to be an album. It was really eye-opening. It was just a real weight off our shoulders to know that we could do whatever the hell we want – we can go wherever we want sonically and musically.
By experimenting with your style, do you want to change the perceptions of how people view Set Mo?
You always expect people to know where you’re coming from even though no one has any real idea of what we’re doing in the studio or what we’re writing. We’ve been writing all this varied stuff for years, but have just never put it out. I wouldn’t say transforming people’s perceptions, I would say just expanding upon it.
Creating a regular release schedule has the potential to create a lot of hype – is this an attempt to make this year your biggest?
You bloody bet! This is the year we are going to share everything with everyone. We want people to buy into the momentum knowing that there’s gonna be a new track every first Friday of every month. We want people to get on board with it because we are super excited and we want to share that.
You’re approaching the last quarter of your 24-date tour and from your Instagram stories, it’s looked pretty fun. What have been the highlights so far?
It’s a big tour – it’s the biggest tour we’ve ever done. Instead of a single highlight, what the most consistent thing we’ve said to each other is ‘holy shit, we did not expect those shows to be as good’. Not that we were expecting them to be bad, but we are just overwhelmed with how many people have turned up. It’s been super overwhelming in a positive way.
To give an example, we put out Near on Friday and then we played a show in Manly on Sunday and people were requesting it all set and when we played it at the end, half the crowd were singing it and the song had been out for 48 hours. Normally it takes a few weeks or months before people start to catch on. It was just like holy shit, these people are on board, there not just here to hear one song.
Do you throw in any cheeky songs into your set that haven’t been released yet?
We sometimes test it. I guess because they are relatively regular, we still feel excited about the one that’s just come out.
When a track is almost done, about the 90-95% mark, we’ll sometimes test it out in our club sets. But we are also perfectionists and hate playing something that isn’t final. And we usually don’t have that version until just before it comes out.
Correct me if I’m wrong but you were last at Mr Wolf right before Christmas, so you obviously have a little thing for us in Canberra. What appeals to you about performing here?
It’s always a great vibe – we always have a good time every single time we’re there. We genuinely love it. Mr Wolf’s been the one club we’ve played from the beginning and it just keeps building and building.
Tell me three things we can expect from your set this Friday night.
We’ve got a few cheeky things that aren’t out yet that friends have given us or that we’ve made, like sneaky edits of songs you know – some really exclusive things you won’t hear anywhere else. There’s a few of those that we often like to play that just makes it special because you know people haven’t heard it before.
We’re just warmed up. We’re six weeks into it so like the DJ muscles are definitely warmed up at the moment. It just keeps getting better and better.
We’re actually genuinely pumped to come down on Friday!
Set Mo is playing Friday night, April 13. Event details are available here and tickets can be purchased at the door.