Simian Mobile Disco Q&A
We speak to one half of Simian Mobile Disco duo James Shaw and find out what they do to relax, why making music is not at all like pie-making, and how the smallest acts of charity can be inspiring.
The band was formed in 2005. How did you meet and what was your reason for joining forces?
James and I were already in a band together, called Simian. Simian Mobile Disco came about from the fact that we both forgot to stop making music and doing gigs even though the band had quite clearly split up. We are slow learners.
Summarise in three words your work ethos?
Experimenting is fun
What has been the highlight so far of your time with Simian Mobile Disco?
Carl Craig played one of our remixes while we were hiding behind the dj booth, it’s a bit like having Peter Sellers tell a joke you made up. A proud moment.
Your last album is called Delicacies and each track is named after a delicacy around the world. How did you uncover these delicacies? Have you tried them all?
No, we haven’t tried them all. Many are illegal and all of them are grim. James loves rotten cheese and meat though so if you see him, offer him something gruesome and local.
Where do you feel most inspired?
Unfortunately there is no pattern to it. I try to avoid being inspired outside the studio as, despite many attempts, I have yet to find a portable rig that I can ’do music’ on. All the software packages seem to lead me into boring places.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I once quit being a musician for people that I love.
How do you switch off?
I love cycling and really like cycling to the studio. It works as both and on and off switch.
What excites you / terrifies you on a daily basis?
I always worry that I won’t be able to ’do music’, even with all the bits that I’m used to there. Obviously, over time I’ve picked up a lot of the craft aspects of making music, but those things don’t really lead you to interesting music. It’s luck or something else that results in something beautiful. It’s not like making a pie, where at the end of the process you know you are going to have a pie.
Is there any single person that particularly inspires you?
I recently read about some guy in Cambridge who is giving all his money away, and only keeping enough to pay the bills and rent. When you think about it, it’s not that amazing, just rubbish that we don’t all do it too.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
I tend to go through cycles between ’doing’ music and listening to music. At the moment I’m doing, so all music is annoying as it’s not what I’m thinking of. Before this recent doing phase I was listening to Bo Ningen, and Harmonia and (Brian) Eno tracks from 1976.