Peking Duk is a dancey Australian electronic duo named after a Chinese dish. The duo gained their initial traction with their bootleg remix of Passion Pit’s ‘Take A Walk’ in 2012, but their single, ‘High,’ made an impact all their own. The track reached triple platinum and won the ARIA (Australia’s Grammys) for “Best Dance Release”. Now, they’ve reached 180-million streams globally to date and their fully-live show has received critical acclaim as they continue their biggest tour to date. Have a listen to their latest release “Reprisal,” a Tarintino-inspired Spaghetti-Western video accompaniment to their two new singles ‘Fire’ and ‘Distant Arizona,’ embedded below.
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Sean Ritchie: Coming from Canberra, Australia, talk about the city itself and surrounding area. What makes it special and home to you? Where would you send a first-time visitor?
Reuben Styles: If someone actually decides to go to Australia and then decides to go to Canberra, I’m going to say go there in autumn time. It is full of trees and the streets look absolutely beautiful in autumn, because the leaves start to go all sorts of different colors. That is the kind of time you want to get on a hot-air balloon to see the city. It’s also a cool place to go in the winter, because then you’re only an hour away from the snow. If you’re only an hour away from the snow, it’s going to be a bloody-good time. During the summer it’s also only an hour away from the beach, I guess it’s kind of a central location for a little bit of everything, but a whole lot of nothing at the same time.
SR: That sounds like a pretty cool spot. Opening it up to the rest of Australia, what other cities or areas do you like to go to?
RS: The other place in Australia that I recommend for everybody to check out is the city Melbourne. It’s like a gorgeous-little New York. It’s got lots of art, culture and music venues. The city also never sleeps. It’s always open. You can always go to a party at like seven in the morning on a Sunday. The clubs are still open and they’re still raging. People have probably still been there from Thursday. But, if you want to relax, Queensland is the best. Everything in Queensland is beautiful. There’s a ton of amazing things around there. It seems to really pull a lot of holiday goers.
SR: If you can find a party at seven in the morning on a Sunday, that definitely sounds a bit like NY. To bring it back a bit, how did you first get introduced to music? Was it through your friends or family? How did you eventually decide to pursue it as a career?
RS: At first, I was introduced to music as a baby … supposedly. I don’t actually know this for sure. But, my mom and my dad told me that the only thing that would put me to sleep every night was Miles Davis. If it was anyone besides Davis, I’d cry. So, that’s where my start was. Since then, I started developing my own taste, like Cake, Fatboy Slim, Beck and some of those guys, or whatever my mom was playing through the house. I guess Sinéad O’Connor and some other girly things, as well. As a really young kid I was into Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, and a few other terribly-awesome things.
I never really fell in love with music until 14-15. Then, I discovered the Strokes. That changed everything for me. The way I saw music was entirely different. I fell in love with music on a different level. From there, I discovered all sorts of things and wanted to create music. I started playing a lot of guitar and piano, and Adam and I started jamming together. We bought laptops together and started making electronic music. The rest is history.
SR: That’s great! And, I can’t hate on the Backstreet Boys. It was my first CD. I like them too. I can still sing every word to a couple songs. To touch on your latest release, ‘Reprisal,’ that just came out in early May, talk a bit about that release. How excited are you to share it with your fans?
RS: Yeah! Awe man. It was such an exciting release for us, because historically speaking, we’ve just been putting out singular songs every few months. It’s been that way forever, but this time we put out two songs. In doing so, we said, “Let’s put out a video clip that spans across both of them.” The songs had the same sort of theme, and we decided to make the clip one, singular story. At the same time, we’ve always been big [Quentin] Tarantino fans. So, we wanted to dress up and take ourselves into the 1880’s, pretending we were a couple dudes rocking around in this old, old town. We’re big fans of Spaghetti Westerns.
So , we talked to our friend Ryan Sawyer, the director, and told him our ideas. He was like, “Sweet! Let’s go for gold.” It worked out I think really well. The feedback has been really, really good. The fans love it, but what really makes a difference to us is the friends and family, because they’re really good critics. They won’t say yes, unless it’s genuinely a yes. They’re very good at saying no. I think this is the best response from then, and that means the most to us.
SR: I really enjoyed it when I watched and listened. And, I can understand friends and family being the good critics, for sure. Switching more into travel, when you do have some downtime and want to get away, are you more of a beach guy? Are you looking more towards the mountains? Or, in the middle of the country somewhere?
RS: Aw man! I’m very, very fun at the beach. I love going. But, my last holiday was Japan. We went there in winter so we could hit the slopes. It was great – a damn good time. The perfect holiday for me though is somewhere on the beach. The holiday before we went to the Amalfi Coast in Italy. That was my idea of true holidaying, when you have no activities that are strenuous in the slightest. I love the lazy holidays!
SR: Now, you’re a big snowboarder? What are some of the mountains you’ve hit that you’ve really enjoyed?
RS: I love snowboarding, totally! The first mountain that I ever hit in my life was Mount Bachelor in Oregon. That’s what got me in love with snowboarding. It was about spring time and sunny when we went. Some dudes were out there snowboarding in a pair of shorts with their tops off. And, it was that warm where you’d be crazy to wear your jacket. The stacks were definitely a bit more painful, but it just made me fall in love with the sport. I think Whistler, though, has really grabbed me as my favorite mountain.
SR: Talk about how music and travel fit together in your life.
RS: It’s incredible to be able to travel and to take music with you while traveling. But, then especially to be able to take music with you and perform in different countries. It’s easily the most rewarding thing in the world. They really do go hand-in-hand. You can’t travel without music. No matter where you’re going you want tunes with you. It’s going to make the experience that much better. One thing that my girl and I have been doing is having a good selection of portable speakers so we can end up anywhere and have a good system. You want to be able to enjoy it properly in every space you end up in.
SR: Everyone has a list of places that they haven’t been to, but still have to hit. What are a few on your list?
RS: That is a tough one! I absolutely want to go to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. That looks like the most beautiful thing in the world. The fact that I haven’t had the time to go there just yet is crazy in my eyes. Hopefully, very soon. I want to also spend a good couple of weeks around the mountains, wineries and lakes around Patagonia, between Argentina and Chile. That would be one of the best non-beach vacations. That’s ideal in my eyes. Next, would be a trip to Jamaica. That, I think, we’re going to do in the next couple of months.
SR: Lastly, to wrap it up, I’m sure you have a busy rest of the summer, but what does the next couple of months have in store for you guys?
RS: Well, technically it’s winter in Australia, so it’s already good even if nothing was in store. We just wrapped up a North America tour. From there, it’s on to Europe, we’re headed to I think around 12-different cities. From there, we’ll go back to Australia and then summer will just be starting again.