EDMTunes Chats with Pleasurekraft About Final Album & What’s Next

We recently had the opportunity to chat with Kaveh of the legendary DJ duo Pleasurekraft to discuss their highly anticipated final album. Formed in Washington D.C., Pleasurekraft has been a driving force in the techno house scene for years, and their music has garnered a devoted following around the globe. Kaveh, known for his visual style as well as his musical prowess, offered exciting insights into the creative process behind the album, his thoughts on the evolution of techno, and what fans can expect in this next chapter for Pleasurekraft.

Hey Kaveh, hope all is great with you! Summer is on the way – does that affect the music you make and play, and the vibes you enjoy?

Perhaps if I’m playing an outdoor festival, or deciding on the release date of a song, yes. For instance, “The Ultimate Ride” which has a euphoric 80’s vibe to it, screams summer, but generally, those are outlier cases for our music I’d say. Most of our songs aren’t traditionally ‘uplifting’ in sound, even though the themes can be – e.g. “The Optimist”, and the title-track “On Growth and Form”.

What inspired the new album, what was the plan for it when you started?

Darwin, evolution, Scottish biologist D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson’s book of the same name from 1917, and really, the idea that there is a continuity that runs through all living things, and the distinctions we often draw are our species-specific manner in which we categorize nature for our various purposes, but that these boundaries are not only more porous than we imagine, but are constantly evolving. As far as a plan goes, like previous albums, we had a growing number of electronica tracks that were nearing completion, and once that reaches a critical mass of about 4 or 5, as they typically take longer than the club tracks, then it’s a sign that an album is on the horizon. 

Why have you decided this is the last album?

Well there is a bit more nuance to the headline-sounding “final album” – as this album will not be our last musical contribution. There are already several singles and EPs of techno tracks that will be released throughout the course of the upcoming year, however, this is the final album we will be releasing that will feature any techno music on it. For us, the appeal of releasing albums at all has always been to treat them as trojan horses, where we can sneak in all the synth-wave, non-club tracks that we love to make. Once the traditional techno music listener opens the gates of their veritable mind, a collection of tracks that usually don’t exist on techno albums sneaks out – hopefully greeted with enthusiasm!

Of course, being a musical act that is predominantly known for techno, the electronica tracks will always garner the least attention, but they are also what sets us apart from most of the techno producers out there. Additionally, we never set out to make albums for an end user in mind, rather they are what we love to make, and this is the best format for us to covertly get them heard.  

How does it differ from previous works? Did you approach it in a different way or use different gear for example?

Not really, most of the stuff used is not hardware based, but a lot of careful compression and EQ can go a long way! Similar to the last 2 previous albums, there are club-oriented tracks interspersed with more electronica, synth-wave tracks – which are tracks we really enjoy making but are not a style we are known for. Releasing albums is our covert way of sneaking in the music we really love into people’s ears – Trojan horses you could say. Not that we don’t enjoy making techno, but there is a freedom to create in tracks like “The Optimist”, “The Social Primate”, “Umbilicis Universalis” etc, that is missing from the much more rigid constraints of techno. 

Who does what, do you each take care of certain aspects of the production of each track?

It really changes from track to track – with the vast majority of the tracks we make never seeing the light of day. But we are notoriously slow producers, I’d say a track usually takes a month or two on average to achieve its final form as a result of back and forth between different things we try. But there is no general production routine that we always follow. 

How has the sound of Pleasurekraft evolved over the years and what has driven that?

I think we were as surprised as anyone when our first hit “Tarantula” became such an iconic tech-house record. It was too different, we thought, to have that kind of mass appeal, and yet it opened many doors for us, some of which I wish we’d never walked through whether because of the various personalities and motives involved, or just that it pushed us to keep trying to recreate and repeat ourselves. I think our eventual shift to techno, which was fully complete by 2017 was a chance to do what we wanted to do and do it predominantly on our own terms and on our own imprint, Kraftek. I think by and large, tech house is a really fun genre with tons of party appeal, but for me particularly as someone who has had the privilege of being a full-time touring artist for over a decade, I didn’t want ‘party music’ to be the only thing I contributed to the world of electronic music. The ‘cosmic techno’ trajectory allowed us to explore more cerebral philosophical themes while still maintaining a club-friendly musical form, albeit, our brand of techno has always been about an emotional hook that is the beating heart of the track, something that is not all too common in techno, where even a small simple lead is often deemed too melodic. But we’ve been fortunate to garner a whole new set of fans with whom our music resonates.  

What have been the highs of this project up to now?

Any time you can give life to ideas in your mind, release them into the world, and then watch complete strangers across the planet lose themselves on a dancefloor, it is a high that is truly singular and never gets old. Everything else is a footnote to that moment. 

And what challenges have you faced over the years?

Too many to name, but they’ve all been learning experiences. From agents and managers who place their bank accounts ahead of your longevity as an artist, forgetting that they are employed by the act they represent and not the other way around, to managing the peaks and valleys of a capricious industry, to making peace with the fact that social media is just something that will never appeal to the way I wish to represent myself or the music we make – despite it being the primary platform on which not just musicians, but (almost) everyone broadcasts their creative endeavors. The fact that I still get to tour the world despite having minimal social media output is a testament to the fans out there with whom our music is the primary resonating factor. 

What is next for you? What else do you have coming up?

Musically, there are a few techno singles and EPs that will be forthcoming throughout the rest of this year and next. We will also be compiling all our non-club tracks into a single collection for release this fall, as I think many people don’t even realize that part of our catalogue exists. As far as what is next, generally speaking, I’m working on a second master’s in psychology and neuroscience and when the final sentence of this Pleasurekraft chapter is written, I will be moving on to the mental health field professionally, but maintaining a creative outlet in the form of writing. 

What are the most important lessons you have learnt in your career so far?

That human beings have a much more difficult time re-catgorizing something they are already familiar with than just categorizing something for the first time. We certainly felt the brunt of this cognitive bias when we started releasing techno 7+ years ago, and there were times early on when we felt we’d made a mistake by not using a different alias for the genre we were now releasing in. But there will always be people who prefer what an artist was to what an artist is. Ultimately, if music is the medium in which you creatively work through ideas, and not a product in which you think first about the end-user, then change, or some form of evolution, is precisely what is to be expected.Pleasurekraft’s “On Growth And Form” LP is out now on Kraftek Grab it here –