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February 27, 2012 | by  | in Features |
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Mt Eden: An Interview

There are those who wouldn’t care to admit it, but most of us know all the lyrics to their songs.

The music of Mt Eden has been taking the world by storm over the past two years, but they’re a lot more homegrown than you might expect. Throw away what you think you know about ‘dubstep’, because there’s so much more to these blokes than just wubwubwub-brrr- wubwubwubwub.

Their names are Jesse Cooper and Harley Rayner, and you would be hard pressed to find artists with as much of a fairytale start to their careers. For Cooper, it all started in his teens, with “mum’s laptop and a pair of logitechs”, sitting down in his bedroom to muck around with beats in his spare time. It was the classic tale of the big brother who sang in church and played the guitar, who would then teach the young Jesse what he knew, inspiring in him a musical passion that, evidently, has done nothing but grow and grow.

Making music was just a hobby, Cooper tells me, while he worked as a builder. A friend started up a YouTube channel for him, where he posted his DnB. It was a time of swimming in influences, discover- ing the new sounds of dubstep and, I can only assume, creating synergetic musical fusion. Within two years, the channel had amassed over two million views, and the ball was rolling. Basically, it was every- thing the internet music revolution had promised to us.

Since then, it has exploded. Cooper speaks about his live performances, the first of which was only eighteen months ago, as almost an entirely different beast.

The usual duo brings in an extra drummer and a violinist, and as Cooper puts it, they do their best to create a “dynamic” spec- tacle, for the viewer as much as for the listener. Laughing, he remains tight-lipped about other collaborations, but mentions that Tyson Kennedy, of Steriogram fame, has been performing with them lately, and doing far more than the usual amount of crowdsurfing, helped apparently by his modest frame.

You probably know them as ‘Mt Eden Dubstep’, which is half-correct. That name is a relic from an awkwardly titled YouTube video trying to hook into the genre, and has been an endless source of frustration. Yes, they’re just called ‘Mt Eden’—which is a suburb in Auckland, by the way—and whoever made the O Week promos probably got a call from their manager.

Despite a gruelling tour of the Northern Hemisphere last year, which, Cooper tells me, “really took a toll on my life”, we can expect their usual full-throttle live experi- ence for O Week. They love nothing more than “rarking up the crowd”, and what it really boils down to is their mantra of “play hard or go home”. Which sounds pretty well suited to the O Week paradigm, to be honest.

After all, they have big things to prepare for. Some readers will be aware that Mt Eden has signed on for the enormous Coachella festival in April, where they will be playing both weekends, on the same nights as Radiohead. Despite originally thinking it wasn’t such a big deal, Cooper is now spending most of his time “just trying to get everything together” for the festival–and why wouldn’t we expect a bit of a preview at Vic little more than a month earlier?

There’s no secret to the fact that there’s a lot more Mt Eden music than what’s available online. Talking to Cooper, you get the feeling that he has hours and hours of tracks purely for live shows, as well as the dynamics of improvisation at their fingertips. To him, it’s clearly both an art and a science. He lovingly builds each song by writing beats and melodies, then carving out “space” for each different instrument to find a sound that is “mint, just clean and punchy.” I’m no expert on the genre, but we all know what a ‘drop’ means—it’s the kickstarter for the fun to go down—and Cooper is well versed in the method.

The drop is an astronomical tension release after a “massive build up”, and seeing a crowd raving is what Cooper describes as the “best feeling”. He says there’s nothing quite like seeing people losing themselves in your own music, and the only way to experience it is to make your own music and feel it for yourself.

Or, at the very least, getting your shoulder-drop on at the Mt Eden O Week show.

Mt. Eden are playing at The Hunter Lounge this Thursday, March 1st, as part of O Week 2012. Earlybird Student Tick- ets are $15 from www.1night.co.nz.

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