If there’s one word that jumps out from talking with Mezko’s Kat and Laura, it’s this: ‘momentum’. It’s in their music. Debut EP Polychronic builds itself around its driving rhythms. Sure, these beats may come decorated with the hypnotic interplay of abrasive guitar lines, silken vocals and spectral washes of synth, but at its core the record courses on body moving impulse.
Momentum would also be an appropriate way of summing up the Sydney duo’s year. They’ve been cropping-up extensively on festival line-ups along the East Coast and to cap it off they’ve paired with Inertia to release Polychronic. Talking with the pair ahead of their new EP we caught up on all the details, diving deeper into group influences, future plans and a mutual affection for Chromatics mastermind Johnny Jewel.
Rabbit Radio: It’s been a big year for the group. You’ve just signed with Inertia and you’ve got a new EP coming out on the 27th. How are you feeling right now?
Kat: Amazing, very excited and very happy to be getting to the point where we’ve realised our sound and also linked up with Intertia.
Laura: It’s kind of just been like perfect timing and perfect people. We’re very lucky and very happy!
RR: When I listen to Polychronic I hear some hints acid house and maybe some ‘70s-‘80s synth pop as well. What sort of music has influenced Mezko?
Kat: The ‘70s-‘80s synth pop thing, you really nailed it there! We were actually talking just then about the kind of music we were listening too when we were writing this EP and The Cars came up as a big one that we’d almost forgotten we’d both been listening to so much at the time. There’s so much of that Cars sound in there. But I think the synth sound that ties everything together with Mezko, the thing that’s consistent across all of our music, I think that comes from the French electro stuff that we listen to. We really love Air, Justice and Ratatat.
RR: Tell me a little about your creative dynamic. How do you two riff off of each other as a duo?
Laura: We kind of work together, but every song sort of has its own process. It’s all pretty organic and with pretty much both of us, you can kind of hear our own sides sort of come through on different songs. But what we bring to each song independently, together or individually, is what makes our sound.
RR: So, tell me then what’s a Kat vibe and what’s a Laura vibe?
Kat: I think that with my guitar, I grew up with lots of guitar music like Sonic Youth and that kind of stuff, maybe mine is more on the angular, nasty side of it.
Laura: I love electronic music, but I’ve grown up with so many different genres. I like Northern soul and metal, but I also love pop music. I love good songwriting, but I’m not the best at structure, Kat’s kind of better at that and writing riffs.
RR: You’ve established yourselves playing a fair number of live shows throughout the year, what is it about the group or your music that you’re finding people are most receptive too?
Kat: We do really love electronic music and DJing as well, so we really try and bring those elements through into our live show in the sense that everything sort of ties together and we mix songs together a lot.
RR: That’s interesting because there is this heavy riffing element to Mezko but there’s also these drum machine rhythms as well…
RR: Do you react differently if people are dancing compared to when they’re headbanging?
Laura: The way that we work live is that we rewrite the set every few shows to change it up, but there’s also these interludes which gives us a bit of fluidity. This gives us a bit more ability to react to what the audience wants. We go a little harder sometimes, just to see what they’re into. Because of our genre blend, we don’t really fit in anywhere so easily, so depending on what the crowd is like we try and work it to them.
RR: Your new EP was co-produced Anthony Garvin, who’s perhaps best known for his work with Jagwar Ma. What are his strengths as a recordist?
Kat: Anthony is pretty much our final point of view on our songs after we’ve written them, and he also has a really amazing collection of synths which we’ve used to re-record certain parts of our songs with.
RR: If you could work with any producer who would it be?
Laura: For me, I think I’d obviously say, Johnny Jewel. I love everything he’s done! We first saw The Chromatics together which was a really sweet experience. We didn’t know anything about them, it was at [the now defunct] Harvest Festival about five years ago.
RR: I can barely just remember being that festival and seeing them play in Melbourne. Such a great band!
Laura: We just kind of stumbled across them and were like, “Woah, these guys are exceptional!” That experience kind of influenced us a lot and from there onward he’s gone on to do more and more of these really amazing things for us. I’d go with that!
Kat: Me three on that one!
RR: Is there a project, album or song that he’s done that really stands out for you?
Kat: I was really impressed when they released that beatless version of their Kill for Love album. It was really interesting to hear how it all sounded without the drums. So amazing!
Laura: It’s cool, I guess Johnny Jewel and that whole Italians Do It Better thing really motivates us to explore and be creative. Also, when he revealed earlier this year that he destroyed thousands of copies of the Chromatics’ record [Dear Tommy] after having a near-death experience! It’s funny, we wouldn’t do that, but I think it’s pretty amazing!
RR: Polychronic presents a cohesive sonic profile. Is it indicative of a certain sound you’d like to establish or are you interested in moving outward?
Kat: I think it’s a really good marking place for the first stage of Mezko. But we want to evolve our sound further as well, we’re already working on our next EP and it really sounds like an evolution from where Polychronic is at.
Laura: I think the way that we’re moving now we’re just going to become a bit more… wide I suppose? A bit more electro and that kind of element but also a lot more songwriting as well. A bit more diverse perhaps in our writing.
RR: Do you have a personal favourite track that you worked on from the EP?
Kat: I think the title track ‘Polycrhonic’…
Laura: (Laughs) Yeah, me too!
Kat: … that’s our favourite. It’s fun to play live.
Laura: And people tend to respond to it as well.
RR: For people who have already discovered Mezko or are getting on board with the new EP, what’s coming next for the group?
Kat: We’ll be playing a whole bunch of shows once Polychronic is out and then a big show on New Years Eve that we’re really looking forward to. It’s the first time either of us have ever played on New Years.
Laura: We’re very happy about that but also for what’s coming next. By early next year, we’ll probably have some new stuff coming out, we’ve just got to keep the momentum up as much as possible.