Does a song chronicling a breakup still carry a sting if it’s buoyed by a fleet of bright, bouncy sounds? Canberra duo Peking Duk will tell you that it does. “Let You Down”, the new, stratosphere-scraper from Adam Hyde and Reuben Styles, features saccharine sonics but an unflinchingly ice-cold bite delivered by the ladies of Icona Pop. It’s an urgent and energised missive from a force famed for the glorious sprawl of its rabble-rousing powers. Older, wiser and assuredly bolder than before, Hyde and Styles are on the cusp of a new phase of their legacy. And before they shook the decks at It’s The Ship 2017, the lads showed us why.
How did you link up with Icona Pop?
Adam: It’s a funny story, actually. We were on a flight with them from Miami to Los Angeles, after the Winter Music Conference a long time ago but we didn’t know what they looked like.
Reuben: We were hungover from the night before after we played the closing party at the W and we were a bit out of it the next day.
Adam: So, on the plane, we were sitting next to these two girls who looked as hungover as us and Reuben accidentally spilled his orange juice on one of their bags. They said they were at this party at the W the night before watching these two Aussie DJs threw down!
Reuben: A few connections later, when we were recording “Let Me Down” and needed a female gang vocal, we hit them up and they delivered.
Adam: I daresay we’re going to be making more music together. They’re such lovely and talented people. Aussies and Swedes are similar: We both like to party.
Were they in the studio with you?
R: No. It was done over email, which is always tricky. We’ve made 200 songs in the last two years but only twice have we gotten something back that was already perfect the first time around.
A: A lot of people do it that way and if it works, it works. But when you’re with someone in the studio, you’re connecting more. You’re moulding something together in real time instead of waiting and waiting.
R: That first hour is everything and online, that hour can feel like 10 years.
“I’ve been picking my battles over the last year and not just partying all the time. I stayed in last night – I’d never would have done that last year; I’d be drinking, still.”
You’ve been in the game a while and you have a distinct, hugely imitated sound. What do you think Icona Pop brings to the table?
R: Thank you. That’s really nice of you. Icona Pop’s biggest weapon is their vocal sound. It sits so large. No one can top that.
A: Yes, thank you. I think Icona Pop makes pop music in a cool, magical way that’s almost punk. That’s an art form in itself. Icona Pop and Peking Duk makes so much sense, sonically.
It’s known that the song was inspired by Candy. How does its narrative resonate with you personally?
R: It’s something we’ve wanted to do for so long. It’s had such an impact on us. This song was too good to not use for that purpose. The melodies are so bubbly that we thought it was the best opportunity to have some very dark lyrics.
A: It’s also a very relatable story – we’ve had people who haven’t seen the film tell us that they cried when they heard the song. And it’s also one of those rare songs where the abusive one in the relationship tells the other person to go. “Runaway” by Kanye West is one of the greatest songs in the world partly because of that. It’s real.
Kanye’s one of the rare musicians who’s polarising even to musicians. And as some artists have shown, it’s become a lucrative business to make music dissing him. Where do you stand on the importance of ego to making art?
A: F**k Taylor Swift. On the topic of ego, it depends. The way Kanye does it is just brilliant. You need people with that cocky, rockstar vibe, like him and Noel Gallagher. Otherwise, the world will just be a bland and boring place. People will get complacent with seeing blandness. And I think Kanye’s so genuinely set in his head that he’s a god that we should let him think that.
R: It’s fun when ego becomes part of the act. Like how Tyga does it. He’s got that alter ego that’s so funny and genius.
Being at the apex of the party circuit for a while now, is there anything new that you take away from a party setting, whether as performers or as guests?
A: I was just asking myself this earlier this morning. It’s always fun to meet new people and partying with them but I’ve been picking my battles over the last year and not just partying all the time. I stayed in last night – I’d never would have done that last year; I’d be drinking, still.
R: We sort of gain more now from going to small whisky bars and amazing rooftop bars and taking in the view. Everyone’s just being older.