Simian Mobile Disco's James Ford Talks New Unpatterns Album and WMC 2012
If there is one act that rarely disappoints, it's Simian Mobile Disco. We've caught the duo so many times live that we've started to lose count. From a cavernous light show at the now-defunct Studio A to an odd New Year's Eve booking at the Shore Club, what stays consistent is James Ford and Jas Shaw's commitment to giving their audience a superb experience.
The bulk of the pair's local appearances have taken place during Winter Music Conference. And with a new album, Unpatterns, set for a May release, Simian Mobile Disco will once again spend a week pumping audible awesomeness through Miami's sound systems.
However, this time around, Ford and Shaw won't be headlining any shows. In fact, all their appearance will be DJ sets, not live performances. But after speaking with Ford, it seems that might not be such a bad thing.
The SMD dude also talked to us about what he's listening to at the moment, the new album, and whether or not Simian Mobile Disco's upcoming tour will make a stop in Miami.
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Crossfade: I know you guys are releasing a new album in May. How would you describe the new album?
James Ford: I think it's probably the album we're the most happy
with, if you know what I mean. It seems like a mix of everything we do,
to a certain extent. It's maybe a bit deeper and more sort of melancholy
than some of the stuff in the past, but it's still you know kind of
rooted in in techno. It kind of goes a little more late night and
psychedelic. We're pretty happy with it.
In all your albums, from Attack Decay Sustain Release, Temporary Pleasure, and even Delicacies,
I feel like there's always been a progression. You guys have never
really like stuck to what people expected you to do. Is that what your
mission always is?
Yeah, I don't think we really think too much about what other people are
going to think of it. We just more do what we're excited about doing, if
you know what I mean. It sort of feels like, you know for us we feel
the little steps in between, so it feels like a natural progression for us. I can see why some
people think that certain albums are unexpected or whatever. This next
album is probably the same. It's going to sound different than
people probably imagine it will.
You guys are coming to Miami and performing at smaller shows than
years past. Do you feel a little sense of relief that you're not doing
big headlining slots now?
I think that over the last couple of years, we've been taking conscious
steps to just do shows that are fun and play the music we want to play.
We'd rather take a smaller show and it be busy and we can do exactly
what we want, rather than you know kind of trying to fit in like a
banger electro lineup or something like that. I
kind of feel like, yeah, I think we're kind of consciously moving in
I remember seeing you guys at a venue, that's now closed, called
Studio A, back in '07 or '08, then at Ultra the next year. And those
were huge productions and lots of lights.
We're not bringing the light show out this year because we're going to
do a new tour around the autumn time. These are mainly kind of DJ shows
with friends really. It's less of a big production type thing.
How would you describe your DJ sets compared to a live show?
Obviously, live shows, a lot of people might joke around saying what's
so live about electronic music. I think seeing you guys, it's pretty
obvious that you guys put a lot of work into a live show.
Our live show is actually live, you know. I take your point that a lot
of people maybe don't believe that's the case sometimes. We use real
machines and try to recreate the songs so that it sounds different every
time, sort of thing. With the DJ show, obviously we're restricted to
playing records. We don't have any machines or anything there. We play a
few of our own stuff, but mainly other people's records. And maybe some
versions of songs that we've done. The DJ show is more techno. We play, I suppose, a bit deeper and maybe a bit meaner than
people would expect from an album like Temporary Pleasure.
Simian Mobile Disco's Winter Music Conference and Miami Music Week Schedule
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What are some of the records you're listening to right now?
At the minute, I'm really enjoying a lot of the stuff. It's really
exciting. There's a guy called Luke Abbott, British guy. He's just
had a recent five-track EP and that's amazing. We're big fans of like
Levon Vincent and Mike Dehnert, and you know some of the more sort
of techno people like that. There's loads of stuff. I
feel like it's a really exciting time, especially in the UK with a lot
of kind of bass music sort of heading towards sort of the deeper techno
music. I feel like it's a really exciting point in music.
The last few years pop has been incorporating a lot of dance music. What do you think about it?
I think, I don't know. I think at the end, overall, it's a positive
thing, especially that America has embraced dance music into the mainstream. That's not to say I like the music that's being created. [Laughs] You know what I mean? I think,
from an overall perspective, if people get more into dance music in
general they'll feed back to the more interesting stuff and eventually
that means there's more for everyone. You've got
to be philosophical about it, I don't see the point in hating on all
those big successful dance music people. If you don't like their music,
don't listen to it, that's my kind of opinion on those sort of things.
I'm guessing you're going to preview some of the stuff from the album during your DJ sets.
Yea, we'll probably play a fair amount. It's not like Delicacies,
it's not club-oriented, if you know what I mean. But there's definitely
still a fair amount that we can play out. We'll be playing as much as
we can get away with.
And I know that you guys are hitting the road later this year as a
live show. Is it possible -- and I always ask this because everyone comes
for WMC but everybody seems to forget Miami for the rest of the year. Is
Miami on that tour schedule?
Yea. [Laughs] Maybe, to be honest it's too early for me to say at this point because
it sort of depends on how extensive the tour is. I think the thing with
Miami is like, unless you're doing the full tour like people tend to
just do the more northern cities because otherwise Miami is sometimes a
I think that since we're a peninsula that road traveling tends to be a little harder.
Exactly. Every time we've been there I've always had an
amazing time so I would jump at the chance. Hopefully, it'll happen.
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