Words: Matt Innes via Scenestr Magazine
The dance gods have spoken, finally bestowing upon us the long awaited, new studio album from PNAU entitled ‘Changa’.
There’s been plenty of buzz around the latest release from one of Australia’s most iconic and prevalent forces in electronic music, with many speculating wildly about when PNAU would finally present new material.
PNAU co-founder, guitarist and producer Peter Mayes says the extended gestation period for ‘Changa’ means anticipation among the band has also been high in the lead-up to its release.
“It’s been a while in the studio making the album, but it’s just great to get it out because there’s always a big period of waiting,” Peter says.
“It’s been finished for a while, so we’re excited to get it out and see what people think. The reaction from everything we’ve released so far has been really positive, so that feels good. I can’t wait to see what people think.”
The last album release from PNAU came in 2012 with ‘Good Morning To The Night’, a remix album produced via the band’s association with their very own high-profile celebrity fan and mentor, Sir Elton John.
‘Changa’ is PNAU’s fifth studio record following 2011’s ‘Soft Universe’, and has been produced sporadically over four years.
“Generally with music there are no rules, even if you try to impose them on yourself, and when you have a plan it gets thrown out the window pretty quick,” Peter says.
“So I don’t remember what the plan was if we did have one, but if we did it always ends up changing. We made a lot of songs early on around 2014 but then we ended up ditching most of them and kind of starting again or at least remaking them, changing everything, and I’m really glad we did that.”
With a gap of at least four years between the release of each of their studio albums, since their debut ‘Sambanova’ in 1999, Peter admits he feels a certain pressure from audiences and record companies to always exceed previous benchmarks in sounds and sales.
“When you don’t release albums all the time there is a lot of pressure you put on yourself to make it great, and obviously from management and record labels; they are always pushing for some more greatness,” he laughs, “which at the time might be annoying… but in the long run it’s for the best.”
The first taste of ‘Changa’ came last year with single ‘Chameleon’, which became a dancefloor anthem and has racked up over 25 million streams on Spotify.
The addition of follow-up singles ‘Into The Sky’, ‘Young Melody’ (ft. Vera Blue), ‘Control Your Body’ and now ‘Go Bang’ has seen PNAU back at their beloved best.
Peter also says the talent and positive energy of ‘Chameleon’ vocalist Kira Divine was instrumental in guiding the overall sound of the album and the finished product. “There wasn’t really a clear objective.
“But after we started working with Kira and having her voice on the record then it inspired us to head in a direction of energy and positivity, which we’ve always tried to do, but having that new voice helped us to shape a sound and have a direction towards the end of the record.”
Last year also saw the expansion of PNAU – nominally a duo of Peter and Nick Littlemore – into a trio with the permanent addition of Nick’s brother Sam on production duties. “It’s good to have another set of ears,” Peter says.
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“A lot of the music Sam makes is quite different to ours, so he has helped bring a freshness to it and a certain aggression to the music, which is great. We’ve worked with him before on our self-titled record  in a production capacity, so we brought him in a bit deeper from the early stages of this record.
“He is the voice of reason at times. He’ll steer us in a direction if he thinks we’re going down the wrong path, but generally it’s always good to collaborate; we’ve always been believers in that and we have collaborated with many different artists over the years, whether they be singers or whatever, just in terms of the writing of the record. This time it felt right to include Sam.”
Sam will also be part of PNAU’s live set-up when they embark on their national ‘Go Bang’ tour at the end of December operating the spectacular visual element of PNAU’s shows.
“Sam’s always had a strong visual arts and graphic design background, as does Nick, but it made a lot of sense to have him on the road with us doing that,” Peter says.
“We’ve always placed a lot of importance on the visual side of things. Especially as a dance music act, video content seems to go so well with the music; we didn’t do that on our last record for the tour and I kind of missed it, so it’s great to have that back.”
‘Changa’ is available now.
Find classic PNAU on ‘Evolutionary Vibes Vol. III – The Evolution Will Not Be Televised’ available at madcaprecords.com/artists/various-artists/evo-vibes-iii-complete-album