Time has unaffected the seminal pairing of James Ford and Jas Shaw who make up the progressive electronic group Simian Mobile Disco who have just released ‘Whorl’ their most challenging and experimental album yet
While chatting to the lovely guys via James in his home studio in Hackney in Clapton and Jas who’s recently moved out of London onto his own plot in Kent you wouldn’t think the sonic explorers had began things almost a decade ago when they released dance floor bumper “Hustler” through French tastemaker label Kitsune that also featured on their debut album ‘Attack Decay Sustain Release’ in 2007.
Skip forward to 2014 and the approach of the recording process has changed as the guys headed out to the Joshua Tree desert in California with a single synthesizer and one sequencer each taking whatever was captured in the handful of days back to the studio. Jas explains the contrast in the albums recording;
“for us it feels very different, mainly as we approached it in a very different way, this album we’ve thrown out a lot of the toys we used and relied on and started from scratch in the way we make the music. These things are meant to be enjoyed and for us and to keep pushing ourselves and moving forward this keeps it exciting and keeps us personally entertained and excited at the idea of making music together” – wise.
But how do they remain so timeless? With a stash of originals and remixes under their belt the guys never seem to age in a scene that see’s plenty of stars come and go all explained with one simple statement “if your bored of it, other people will be bored of it”
James further explains that DJing is key as your “constantly staying on top of a lot of music” that pushes you to be “always finding new bits of music that is inspiring or exciting that makes you want to make music yourself” that seems to have worked a charm for the guys that have both strong production and DJing presence.
What else works in cementing a respectable career? The guys laugh in sharing that “if anything gets too popular we tend to do the opposite” adding “we’re not very money motivated, we don’t have aims to be on-top of the Forbes list or anything”
Since the albums all done what next? Back to producing music for other stars that has included over they years the Artic Monkeys, Beth Ditto and the Klaxons but also work on their collaborative ‘Delicacies’ vinyl series that look purely at dancefloor bangers that has so far included Bicep, Cosmin TRG but also more recently Australia’s Light Year (fingers crossed we hear this one soon).
You can’t help but be envious of just how close James and Jas are, ten years on and the guys laugh, share jokes and finish sentences like schoolboy friends and something they enjoy tremendously while on the road and often seeing what they coin jokingly as “lonely DJs”.
Moving onto the topic of ‘EDM’ and it’s surging popularity in the US the guys have a positive outlook as Jas hopes that “people that get into Steve Aoki will work their way back and get into Kerri Chandler” adding “well I hope it works that way” and again reasserting himself “all kids need a gateway into more serious electronic music, as much as everyone would want to say their first record they bought was a Kerri Chandler record it was probably something they are a bit more embarrassed about” – this is where I admit the first CD I bought being Lou Bega’s ‘Mambo No. 5’ to many laughs.
In finishing it seemed fitting to ask these two dance music innovators, who have carved out a tremendous life based around electronic music if they could share with me one beautiful moment they have experiences over the years…
James: “honestly one of my favourite memories was the past recording experience, being out in the desert under the stars and having the best recording experience we’ve ever had. It was really fun and creative and exciting and it doesn’t get much better than that”
Jas: “a classic one was ages ago at Exit festival and we were DJing in this kind of fort in Serbia in a weird natural amphitheatre and the sun was coming up and it was just amazing… I remember thinking this is a bit of alright.”
Incredible people, incredible sounds. Their fourth studio album ‘Whorl’ is out now on Epitah/Warner, grab it on iTunes.