by / July 1st, 2008 /

Interview: Simian Mobile Disco

James Ford and James Anthony Shaw aka Simian Mobile Disco will follow up their Attack Decay Sustain Release album with a contribution on August 11th to the Fabric Live series. Number 41 in the series in fact. The mix will take in tracks from Green Velvet, Hercules and Love Affair, Plastikman, Shit Robot and Perc & Fractal. See tracklisting below.

State talked to the pair about transport mishaps, improvisation, music blogs, the Fabric Live mix, future plans, frisbees and sandwiches.

State caught your set at Primavera which was hugely impressive. Can you tell me about your setup for those kind of DJ sets?
James Ford: Well , that was meant to be a live show! We played in Switzerland the night before. All our gear was in a trailer. All the lights and everything. Basically, the trailer came off the bus on a Swiss motorway and all our gear spilled out down the hill. Luckily, we didn’t kill anyone or ourselves. We we’re going to cancel but we just grabbed a box of CDs, jumped on the plane and went down to Barcelona.

You do live shows as well. How does it work?
James Anthony Shaw: Well there’s loads of stuff for the live show. We have a mixer and loads of vintage analogue synths, a modular synth, lots of outboards. We can play the tunes, change the structure, the mix. There’s loads of room for improvising, like segways between tracks, mixing them on top of each other or sections on top of each other. There are lots of bits we make up things on the spot. Depending on how that goes, we’ll either develop that for a while or jump onto the next track. The whole idea is that it’s fun for us.

How did it feel to start doing Live sets again?
JF: Since the album came out, we’ve been doing it a lot. Japan a couple of times, The US, UK and Europe – we’ve been all over with it. The summer for us is shows at the weekend, festivals and all that and working on new material during the week.

So how did you guys approach the Fabric mix?
JAS: It sounds obvious but we wanted to represent what we would play at Fabric, if we were playing there. We started with our DJ box, went through the tracks we’re liking at the minute, then some older stuff and tried to find some older weirder electronic records that could fit in the mix but still feel like a club mix.

It was great to hear some Green Velvet in there..
JAS: Quite a few people have said that actually. It seems there’s lots of love for that. It’s a classic track but it still feels really relevant.

Green Velvet – Flash

DJing can be a very solitary skill. How do you two work together?
JF: We tend to go one and one y’know? Because we’ve made music together for so long, we’ve pretty compatible tastes. We read each other pretty well. We don’t get into arguments about Djing or hit each other with boxes of CDs.

How does DJing in 2008 compare to DJing in 2003? Is there a difference?
JF: We’re playing a lot of different places. When we first started DJing we were still in the band Simian and we played rock clubs and small bars where you can get away with playing all sorts of stuff. Then gradually, we played bigger clubs and festivals. So we catered our music more for a dancefloor. It influenced the music we made at the same time.

What are your favourite places to play?
JF: Actually Fabric is one of our favourite places to play…

Ah c’mon! You don’t have to say that just because you did a mix for them!
JF: (Laughing) It sounds like we’re just saying that but Fabric is a great place. The soundsystem’s great. The crowd are always totally off their tits. It runs late. It has a lot going for it.

Have you been too busy to do any more remixes of late?
JF: Not really. We’ve been offered quite a lot but we turned them all down. The only one we did fairly recently is a remix of Wendy Carlos for the Tron soundtrack project which was great fun. It’s just a case of not having time. Both of us are really busy, not just with touring and making SMD stuff but with production and everything else.

Fabric cover

After this Fabric Mix, what does your diary look like in terms of recording, producing, tour etc?
JF: We’re working on a new SMD record along with some live stuff. I’m also playing live with The Last Shadow Puppets which is fun, with the orchestra and all that. Doing a bit of new Klaxons stuff as well. I’m also getting married and JAS is having a baby.

What have you been listening to lately?
JF: I’ve been listening to a lot of cosmic disco and kraut-disco stuff. There are other bands I’m interested in: American bands like Telepathe.
JAS: Me, I’ve been listening to a lot of Black Sabbath!

Are you guys fans of blogs at all? What are your favourite music ones?
Yeh big fans. Definitely.
JF: I always check 20 Jazz Funk Greats, Bumrocks, Lovefingers, that sort of stuff.

Do you get ideas for tunes or songs for DJ sets from them?
JAS: Yeh, I think we get like 90% of our music off the internet in one way or another.

Away from music, what’s the one thing you’re most enthused about right now?
JF: I’m pretty into frisbees actually. Park + booze + frisbees!
JAS: I’m into sandwiches. It’s the ultimate invention. Better than the wheel. The ultimate meal!

Tracklisting Fabric Live 41: Simian Mobile Disco

01 Tomita: “Firebird Suite/Infernal Dance of King Kastchei” (clean version)
02 Sisters of Transistors: “The Don”
03 Simian Mobile Disco: “Simple”
04 Hercules and Love Affair: “Blind” (Serge Santiago version)
05 Smith N Hack: “Space Warrior”
06 Discodeine: “Joystick”
07 Shit Robot: “Chasm”
08 Perc & Fractal: “Up Tool”
09 Metro Area: “Miura”
10 Worthy: “Crack El”
11 Moondog: “Suite Equestria”
12 Fine Cut Bodies: “Huncut Hacuka”
13 Bentobox vs Chordian: “Aemono”
14 Jelo & DeadMau5: “The Reward Is Cheese”
15 Simian Mobile Disco: “Sleep Deprivation” (Simon Baker remix)
16 Popof: “The Chomper” (LSD Version)
17 Raymond Scott: “Cindy Electronium”
18 Paul Woolford Presents Bobby Peru: “Erotic Discourse”
19 Moebius Plank Neumeier: “Pitch Control”
20 Plastikman: “Spastik”
21 Green Velvet: “Flash”
22 The Walker Brothers: “Nite Flights” (album version)

  • Raymond Scott! awesome. looking forward to that, some good tunes alright…

  • Great interview, the whole idea behind their live sets is really cool.