Simian Mobile Disco
added: 5 Jul 2012
// gig date: 5 Jul 2012
reviewer: Alasdair Byers
Interview with Simian Mobile Disco @ Hideout Festival:
Following months in the studio where they’ve been hard at work on recently released new album Unpatterns, Simian Mobile Disco are turning back to their forte - live shows. Music News caught up with them before their set at Hideout Festival.
> How are you finding Hideout?
James: We just arrived but it looks pretty amazing - we did it last year, and -
Jas: - it was amazing last year so when they said come back out it was a total no-brainer!
> It’s an interesting mix though, a festival, based in clubs...
James: Yeah but it’s a good mix though - you can be right in on the action, or just down on the beach, or anywhere in a few minutes
> A few DJs here have mentioned that its a weird mix here because ordinarily playing in clubs feels different to playing in festivals - do you find that?
Jas: Yeah, in particular, a lot of the festivals that you play, they’ll give you like an hour, which for the kind of stuff we do, just doesnt work - its an hour and worse it’s like an hour at 9 in the evening, which is just weird. Whereas this, you’re playing properly at night time, it just fits better.
> So, Hideout, then what’s the schedule for you guys for the rest of the summer?
James: Well we just put a record out, so we’re just mainly DJing at the minute as we’re working on a new live show which we’re gonna start doing, touring, around Autumn time. We’ve got quite a lot of gigs lined up, mainly abroad - we’ve got some American ones, some Japan ones, but the but the main time you’ll us see in Europe will probably be here and then the UK when the live show’s done
> What’s the set up for the live show?
Jas: So the live show is basically a mini version of our studio - a complete mixing desk, a bunch of synths, a bunch of drum machines, effects pedals, all set up on a round table on stage. Increasingly, as we spend time getting back into it, we’re getting more into improvising stuff, and making new versions of what we have. We’ve had the show on ice whilst we made the new record and now we’re just taking time to get back into it, because otherwise, if you’re not into it you just play it safe - it’s too conservative.
> So how pre-planned is a live show? I mean with DJ sets I know there’s usually a direction you intend to take it, is this the case with live shows?
Jas: We work really hard to make the live show as flexible as we can, because the technology is there now to do that which wasn’t there a few years ago. We do use old equipment, but we use new versions of old equipment, we’re working as hard as we can to make it as jam-like as possible, so you get something original and on the spot and good for the people at the time, rather than just sticking to the same old routine, that’s the opposite to what we want to do really
> You’ve played in several different countries, do you find that, different crowds, different different nationalities respond differently to the music?
Jas: It’s different but it's not as simple as different countries
James: Actually its more city to city
Jas: Even if you think about a friday crowd and a saturday crowd, all of these factors play in, that’s the great thing that keeps drawing you back to DJing - if it was the same reaction, the same crowd every night, that would be easy, and it would be boring. Whereas in reality, last thursday we were playing in a tiny underground basement that could fit about 50 people, and now we’re about to play this place.
James: It’s good because there’s a real randomness to it
> I guess it brings something fresh to your sets:
Jas: Yeah- because that would be the worst possible situation - if it’s just generic: you turn up, you play your set, you go home. You’d probably do a decent ‘standard of service’ but its basically a McDonalds service, you know - the crowd know what it’s gonna get, and the jobs all done. And thats not us. All my favourite DJs, all my favourite bands, have bad sets, have bad nights, but when they’re good, its that moment, its like, all those things have kind of come together to make it an excellent night so its worth it.
> A lot of DJs are playing / producing increasingly cross-genre stuff - what’s your take?
James: I think you have to really, you can’t just play ‘the new tunes’, because nowadays everybody in the crowd who wants to will have those tunes - you can’t rely on the ‘DJ lag’ anymore. Obviously there’s a few mates that might give you something new or you introduce some of your own new stuff but most of the time the promo stuff comes out at the same time that it’s available to everyone. But that’s good because it means you have to dig a bit deeper, go wider, and even just play some tunes from a few years ago that people just slept on or even from like up to 7 years ago (laughs) - that used to seem odd and unfashionable but now its pretty cool. Overall, its good for you to have that pressure on from the crowd.
> Now you guys are getting back into it with live performances - Is there a particular place you want to hit tour-wise?
Jas: Different places have different atmospheres, but because the internet means that people are clued up wherever you go, It’s no longer possible to go into say the middle of Asia to some city and blow peoples minds with the music because, well, they’ve all got it now. It sort of matters less now where you go.
James: It also means wherever you do go you have to be on your game more I guess
> Do you see the electronic scene really expanding into new parts of the world in the short term?
Jas: Eastern Europe at the minute. The last 2 years have been the first few times we’ve come over here, and there’s a lot of fun, a lot of energy happening over here. Saying that, I also know places like China are opening up and we’re starting to get offers to go over there. But yeah its good to just go to different places purely to get the nuances of of each place
> Which artists do you guys rate at present?
Jas: To be honest there so much going on here! - We saw Space Dimension earlier on, we saw Seth Troxler. This lineup, on those stages: usually at most festivals there’d be about 6 people I want to see, in amongst the chaff (laughs) Whereas here, its just all good. It’s almost frustrating - because you can’t see all of them!
> What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
James: Make music for yourself, not for other people. We kind of learned that the hard way but now we’re doing that and having a better time of it. You will get swayed by the “pop remix” offers, but you do need to stick to your guns.
Jas: It’s difficult, because after a while you sort of get an idea of what people think you are, and you kind of feel that you’ll disappoint them if you don’t play or produce a certain way, so it’s a debate to yourself about whether you you just do your thing, or do you feel that what you make has to link back to what you made before. Its easy to see how you might start to second guess what you think people want rather than just doing what you want, and just not really thinking that hard about it and just putting yourself out there because you believe in it. But if you stick to your own thing, and people don’t like it at least you do!
James: And if its good it will catch on eventually!
Unpatterns, on Wichita Recordings, was released in May. Its available now via the ITunes store.
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