The Sydney, Australia-based duo the Presets has been dubbed, variously, industrial, psychedelic, techno, and dance-punk, among various other genres. There's some truth to all of those, though none is 100 percent accurate. Imagine if Trent Reznor produced New Order's latest album, and you've got the first inklings of it, but even that misses out on the Presets' distinct, frequent sense of joy.
"On the one hand, the music has darker elements, but these are juxtaposed by some lighter, more 'pop' moments," says keyboard player/drummer Kim Moyes. "As an album, and as a live show, you want to have some bangers as well as some delicate moments. Even when we go 'dark' we like to have a bit of romance about it. We like putting odd things together and seeing what comes out of it."
Moyes and vocalist/keyboarder Julian Hamilton have come a long way from about the humblest beginning one could envision. The two met when Julian was a bus boy in an Italian restaurant and Kim was little more than a street urchin living off the scraps of anchovies discarded in the back alley. They formed a somewhat unlikely friendship over a shared love of music, and eventually evolved into the Presets, from an initial a five-piece post-rock outfit called Prop.
"Time came to do a remix album," recalls Moyes, "and Jules and I remixed a Prop song as 'The Presets.' We loved playing the more electronic stuff -- it was heaps of fun, kind of instinctual, and that was the beginning."
What an instinct it was -- the unshakeable groove of the group's debut album, 2005's Beams, set them on a worldwide bonanza. (The 2006 Winter Music Conference saw something like four or five performances by the group in the span of a couple of days). Then last year came the follow-up, Apocalypso, which netted the Presets six ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) awards.
"We are both a bit blown away by how far it has taken us," says Moyes, "this crazy life of touring the world. But make no mistake, on the road is where they belong, and fans at this year's Ultra will be pleased with what they bring to the lineup.
"I guess for me personally, playing stuff live is when it really comes alive," says Moyes. "Everything is just a bit more extreme; the highs and lows. Everything's just a bit more dramatic."
Day Two of the Ultra Music Festival, Saturday, March 28. Bicentennial Park, 1075 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Gates open at 4 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday. Tickets cost $89.95 to $350. ultramusicfestival.com