Immediate satisfaction or impulsive lustful gain is not my definition of pleasure. Pleasure to me is simply freedom, a space where one can make their own interpretation of what a bite or a slap or a look can mean and feel like. Experimenting with your tastes and understanding the sweet and sour flavors of life, pleasure is knowing what makes you feel free.
There are three artists that know all too well this spectrum of wild feeling – Marc Kinchen (MK), Lee Foss and Anabel Englund - the members of the desired and budding house supergroup, Pleasure State.
DJing is not a fresh thing for me
All three of them have had very successful careers in their own right, touring the world and creating their own identities. They naturally gel and gel well for this new combined offshoot of their personalities and music.
This has been a huge last year for the three artists, highlighted by all of them having a chance to play primetime slots at this year’s Coachella Music Festival. Veteran house producer MK has a headlining spot in the Yuma tent, and Hot Creations label chief Lee Foss and vocalist Anabel Englund are bringing out the fireflies during Friday's sunset with their Hot Natured supergroup right alongside Jamie Jones and company.
You know the whole awkward hands thing? I don’t know what to do with my legs
With so much going on between their solo careers, collaborative efforts and label responsibilities, it is hard to believe that any of these creators would have a second to even breathe, let alone form a new group that has the electronic scene buzzing and begging for more.
On a glowing afternoon at San Diego’s CRSSD Fest in March, I sat with Lee and MK to talk about this developing adventure and hear about what makes Pleasure State so different and important to them.
She could've been a pop star
This is the first US live show here at CRSSD Fest. Where is this ship setting sail to after the maiden voyage?
Lee: We haven’t had a ton of time to record together so I guess the ship will be headed in whatever direction we allow ourselves to get music done together.
Marc: We have about 7 songs already. We could have an album done fairly soon.
Lee: We work quickly together but again the travel schedules are very different, but the work is very good and exciting. It's a lot easier to know how much you’ll be able to perform together, how much music you’ll be able to release, when you know how you can record together. But I’m excited about it, these guys are excited about it. They're fun to work with and have good charisma on the stage. Large shows are exciting for me. DJing is not a fresh thing for me, doesn't give me the kind of excitement and nerves as performing.
You’re about to rap up on stage right Lee?
MK: Now you're making him nervous.
Lee: The only two times I’ve ever rapped with a microphone will be We Are FSTVL and now CRSSD Fest - with no backing track or vocal. It's a little stressful but luckily DJing in front of thousands - tens of thousands - of people before makes it easier. Once you step around, the only difference is there's nothing in front of your legs. You know the whole awkward hands thing? I don’t know what to do with my legs.
Just gotta swag...
How do you prioritize creating songs with your various solo projects and groups? What takes priority?
Lee: If I was gonna work on a song with these guys we’d be in the studio. Same with a Hot Natured track, or if MK was working on his own. Sometimes we work towards Pleasure State separately though.
When I have ideas they’re pretty delineated towards where they work. Hot Natured is, and sort of was a concept project and a concept album in mind, and Pleasure State could be about anything but it was a bit more worldly.
MK: When I work with them on Pleasure State stuff, that's where me being more of a producer comes into play as opposed to me being MK. It's not necessarily dance, it's just experimenting.
It's very manic thing when we're there.
What’s the pleasure that created the newest songs you’ve recorded?
MK: Lately the core of it has been Lee. Lee is the songwriter of the group. Most of the songs are focused on his thoughts.
Lee: That's not a hard and fast rule, but it's worked out that way. There's plenty of times where we come into a room and we all have ideas, but I write a lot of poetry and a lot of it functions as concepts for songs or starting places. I feel very fortunate that when we sit down it never feels like there's too many cooks in the kitchen. It's very manic thing when we're there. A manic trial and error.
If we're lucky at all everyone will be looking at Anabel
What is a signature in your production that you like to toy around with technically?
MK: With us when we’re doing tracks, there's no boundaries. We will use any kind of keyboard. We try and use more stuff that's unique.
Lee: I think we both like eerie, strange sounds - some Depeche Mode sounding chords and pads that both peak our interest. Anabel’s always loved that stuff. She could've been a pop star, but she was directly attracted to that in our music.
Is Anabel a muse for you guys. Does she bring something out in the Pleasure State of things?
MK: From my point, me being the oldest one in the group and her being the youngest, I kind of look to her - just to watch her and her friends and see the different things they're into when I was into that 20 years ago, and see that the same things work.
Lee: I think it's great to be friends with someone that you work with so often and she’s fun to be around and she’s willing and she’s malleable. I work with vocalists sometimes that struggle but she will always try and work it out. She’s super talented and she's growing as an artist. I guess you could call that a muse, yea.
What does a Pleasure State show look like? What can we expect?
Lee: If we're lucky at all everyone will be looking at Anabel. If the outfit from her Hot Natured show is on display I’m sure they will. I think its important that she looks very different. Coming from her, she thinks it's important to have her own identity and styling from group to group whether it's her solo show, or Hot Natured or Pleasure State.
Part of the reason people buy into bands and live shows is they want the storyline that comes with the group. They want to buy into that whole dynamic. They want to see them as friends. They want to have rockstars...
The beauty of Pleasure State is that it seems to be a release for these artists - a space to be free and experiment and fuck up and be outside their comfort zone. Listening to them speak and hearing the back and forth, you can tell that they all genuinely respect each other and are close friends.
It seems good for the soul to create with one another and that translates to some beautiful accessible house pop music. The show itself was a well balanced mix of MK and Lee taking turns heating up the crowd and perfectly placing injections of their singles with accompanied live vocals by Anabel.
Highlights included Lee spitting fireball verses on “Subject Matter” and hearing the signature chorus of “Electricity” finally sung live. Whatever those walls are talking about, I want to hear more.
Pleasure State’s “Electricity” can be heard live tonight at the El Rey theater when Hot Natured rocks Los Angeles for a mid-Coachella show. Tickets are still available and if you’re at Coachella Weekend 2 be sure and catch Hot Natured and MK’s sets on Friday!