Peking Duk

PEKINGDUK outdoorPeking Duk perform at Groovin The Moo on Saturday, May 10, at Hay Park, Bunbury. BOB GORDON reports.

This time last year Peking Duk – AKA Reuben Styles and Adam Hyde – were on the brink of something big. For three years they’d been hard at it working on recordings and playing shows, but in 2013 things changed.

How? It started with two #1 ARIA Club Chart singles in The Way You Are and Feels Like, a bout of success that has already been complemented in 2014 by the Canberra boys topping the ARIA Singles Chart with High (featuring Nicole Millar).

So things have changed in a year, though one thing remains the same.

“Weirdly, our mindset was exactly the same then as it is right now,” says Reuben Styles. “Except we’re striving even harder to manage our time and go, ‘let’s put this two weeks aside to spend all day, every day in the studio and then do a two week tour’. We’re just figuring out how not to be lazy, I guess. We’re getting less and less lazy, which is good. That’s something we need to keep getting better at, being less and less lazy (laughs).”

Peking Duk simply haven’t had enough time up their sleeves to get lazy, what with a raft of club performances, plus festival appearances at Falls Music & Arts Festival, Splendour In The Grass and the Big Day Out. The month of May sees them touring the country with the Groovin The Moo regional showcase.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Styles enthuses. “We’re starting to play more festivals and starting to see people singing along with the words to our songs. It’s beautiful. We love playing shows as much as we love writing.”

The duo are recently back from their second visit to the US, where they’re making more than just memories.

“It’s incredible,” Styles laughs. “I don’t even know how to explain the feeling of being able to play a show in the States; being in a whole new country where people are still jamming out to your music and running up before the set and asking you to play this certain song they like in your set. That sort of stuff is mind-blowing.”

Miami seems to be a city of infinite delight for the pair, if only for who they spot in traffic.

“Last year in Miami we saw Busta Rhymes driving ‘round. This year, we spotted Deadmau5… actually, we recently made a song with Laidback Luke and he was a part of one of Deadmau5’s Coffee Run videos on YouTube.

“Everyone’s driving around in ridiculous rental cars. People who just want to pick up spring-breakers – the toolies of Miami, the old guys that go to schoolies – they save up to get these crazy, ridiculous rental cars so they can just loop the streets of Miami until a girl jumps in (laughs). They’re just ridiculous! But there are other sides to Miami that are just incredible, the shows they put on there are amazing.”

Styles emphasises how important it is, that in the midst of continuing success, that Peking Duk stay anchored. The most important thing in all of this is the work that is created.

“That’s it, as soon as an artist gets lazy… well. It’s the worst thing anyone can ever do, no matter what they’re doing, if it’s art or anything. That’s definitely not on the cards for us, we just want to make more and more music.”

The pair grew up in Canberra and only recently moved to Sydney for business-aligned reasons. Styles played in Rubicon, an indie rock band that had gathered momentum, but the at-the-time side project that was Peking Duk was soon to take over.

“I was playing in a lot of rock bands and Adam was playing in a bunch of hip hop crews,” he says. “There was no real structure to anything, but Rubicon was a really good venture and those guys have a new project at the moment which is incredible.

“I guess Peking Duk became something that made it too hard to have time for anything else. The workload just kept on picking up and picking up. Also there was a time two years ago where we just kept taking on remixes which I guess helped us learn a lot about producing, which helped us heaps with our own music.

“We never really had a structure as to how we rolled it out, we just dabbled in a lot of musical projects and let each one take its own course.”

Collaborations with 360, Josh Moriarty (Miami Horror), Laidback Luke and more have no doubt helped Styles see beyond old-fashioned band politics, given each comes with a new person, angle and dynamic each time.

“You take in your own mind and your own past experiences and you walk out with their mind and their past experiences,” he notes. “I think doing a lot of collaborative work has been the best way for us to grow as writers and as producers.”

In the meantime, with all these hit singles piling up, a lot of folks are wondering when Peking Duk are going to drop a full album…

“Ahh,” ahhs Styles. “The question that can’t be answered! We’re trying to just write lots of music and what we’re gonna do is then look at our options. At the moment we’re just letting singles go, one at a time, but there’s certainly enough for us to be looking at an album some time in the near future.

“As I say, it’s the question that can’t be answered (laughs).”

As for their set at Groovin The Moo, you can expect a lot of Peking Duk.

“There might be some hip hop, there might be some rock’n’roll, there might be some big, bangin’ electronic sounds,” Styles hints. “But at the end of the day, it’s just gonna be a real fun party.”