Behind The Beat: EXCLUSIVE – 1st U.S. Interview with Dance Group PNAU & Their Latest Single “Chameleon”
It’s been a few years since they released some music but Pnau, one of Australia’s most loved electronic acts with five critically acclaimed albums including their UK #1 album with Sir Elton John, is back hotter than ever with their contagious dance track “Chameleon” featuring vocal from Kira Divine (dancer and back-up singer for Lauryn Hill). In their first U.S. interview, Pnau (Nick Littlemore, Peter Mayes and Sam Littlemore) took some time to chat with Mix 247 EDM about their latest song, the creative process for the video and all things music.
Mix 247 EDM: The song “Chameleon” is contagious and was recently featured in dance DJ duo Aston Shuffle mix Only 100s highlighting some of the best dance songs recently released, how did this song come to be?
Pnau: It was a simple groove, and we started writing vocals over it—a bunch of ideas thrown together. A big part of if…we were really inspired because we met with singer Kira Divine, and we really loved her voice..being able to work with her voice. Pete, Sam and I (Nick) wrote this piece, and Kira really liked singing it. The way she sang it was so special, and it all kind of came together feeding her voice off as an instrument. It’s really exciting.
Mix 247 EDM: Now, moving from song (audio) to video (visual), can you share the creative process for what inspired the video? Why the body (glow in the dark) paint?
Pnau: There was this artist that Sam found from Peru, who is a visionary artist, so he works with altered states, the shamanic states and that kind of realm to gather ideas and information. This song always felt like a nighttime but a glowing, iridescent—kind of like a twilight feeling to it; a lot of energy. The images sort of married beautifully with the sound, and we found a great makeup artist here in LA (Los Angeles). Kira Divine is a professional dancer as well as a singer. She specializes in circus style, so it was an idea to get her beautifully made up. For the most part, improvise in a landscape that was quite strange, dark and mysterious. […] We shot in LA, it was kind of a crazy day—really long day. Nine hours of makeup—Kira is amazing, an incredible artist.
Mix 247 EDM: Australia is leaving a huge footprint in the dance music world; you’ve been in the industry for almost 20 years now. How have you seen it evolve? Would you pinpoint a specific year as an explosion?
Pnau: Early 2000s when it really kicked off, but for us it was when we were kids in school in the late 90s and just making music every day in the shed at Nick’s house. In terms of the international explosion it’s more recently.
Mix 247 EDM: Who has inspired you throughout the years?
Pnau: Certainly a lot of American music. Peter and I (Nick) first came together listening to—well our musical interests sort of collided around the rave scene. I (Nick) started listening to things that Peter was listening to and then we followed that into the electronic music scene. I guess at the time it started out German acid and Belgian acid kind of music, and then we found house music somewhere along the way—Chicago, London and Germany. When everyone else was listening to Nirvana we were kind of listening to weird, instrumental acid tracks.
Mix 247 EDM: Who are some artists or other musical talent you’d like to work with?
Pnau: It’s an ever revolving door of whoever we meet. We just love working with people, so everyone has something to offer. Music is a conversation at best, and you can’t have it on your own. We’re always inviting people in to try things, experiment and see what happens. We love collaborating.
Mix 247 EDM: When you’re collaborating, do you bring on the person that you want to work with from the beginning or have you already produced or played around with songs and you think of the artist? What does that collaboration process look like?
Pnau: It’s different for every song. Sometimes they’re there from the beginning, and as Nick says we’re feeding off their voice and we’re inspired by that and other times there’s a complete song. We do like to get people in as early as possible if we want to work with them, and then you can really shape the song around their voice.
Mix 247 EDM: With January behind us and now halfway into February, what’s one thing you’d like to accomplish in 2017?
Pnau: We’re putting out an album. We’d love to play some shows in America. We’ve never really played anything here. We have a lot of shows in Australia this year, and it’s been a while for us because we’ve been in the studio. We would love to play everywhere.
Mix 247 EDM: What feelings or emotions do you seek to inspire with your music?
Pnau: For the most part it’s always been about, for want of a better term, ecstasy or evoking that feeling of joy—tapping into that infinity of love, joy, energy and light. That thing you can’t quite explain. That’s what we’ve always played in music—even the stuff that was very simple when we first started making electronic music—that emotional thing you could create beyond just an electronic groove. It had to stir feelings inside of you. We feel very strongly about that—the emotional colors; creating that uplifting feeling.
Mix 247 EDM: What’s some advice you’d give to anyone seeking to create music?
Pnau: The thing with music is that it is a communication tool, more than ever now, it is so important to put positive energy into the world. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about politics but you can do it in a positive way, in a way that can help to change, and….as long as you have a good message, the song will follow—even if that is just pure energy. There are moments when all you need is energy; just bring that energy and positivity to the music.
Mix 247 EDM: Any last words for our readers?
Pnau: Well it’s just great—this is our first interview in America. We did one little radio thing when we did the Elton John album, and we’re really looking forward to getting out there and playing music for an American audience.
Ladies and gents, this is a group you want to keep an eye on as they hope to drop their album sometime this year. Let’s cross our fingers for a U.S. tour! Check out the visually stunning video for “Chameleon” below:
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