INTERVIEW: Jas Shaw from Simian Mobile Disco

Groove on the Grass returns to Dubai on Friday, September 23 with a line-up that includes Simian Mobile Disco (DJ Set), Max Cooper, Josh Wink, Radio Slave, Clockwork & Avatism (CW/A Live Act) and The Element.

We caught up with Jas Shaw from Simian Mobile Disco to find out about their new music, and what we can expect from them in Dubai.

Most of us in the office remember you from 2006’s “Hustler”. How do you look back on those early songs?
They were very much of a time and place. SMD’s music has always been a constantly evolving project, which we guess can sometimes seem from the outside as a series of quite big changes in style, but from our point of view it’s always been a smooth, continuous evolution – the fact that you release music as albums or collections of tracks tends to make it look like a big shift, rather than a gradual change.

Your last album, Whorl, was more ambient, a sort of Brian Eno meets Vordhosbn-era Aphex Twin. What were the goals for that record compared to the earlier stuff?
The goals for that record were firstly to severely restrict the amount of equipment used in making it – we only used two modular synths, two hardware sequences and a mixing desk to make it. No computer sequencing of any kind. Secondly, we knew we were going to be performing (and recording) the album in the desert in southern California, near Joshua Tree, so when we started the writing/jamming process back in London, we had that environment in mind – and the desert lends itself to more expansive, ambient and drone-style texture.

That’s essentially a live album, right? Will there be any live performance element in Dubai, or is this purely a DJ set?
It’s not quite a live album – the final album we released featured a mixure of takes, recorded at different times, but each from essentially a live jam – some from the show we played in the desert, some from rehearsals in the desert and in London. But it’s not a recording of a whole gig in that sense. Dubai will just be a DJ set – we have the live show on hold until we can sit down and create a new set incorporating the music we’ve been releasing this year.

Is there a record you’d love to play in a set but had never had the nerve?
Sometimes you just want to play the most unrelenting techno but the crowd isn’t quite up for it…

So, what will Dubai be getting?
That’s hard to say – we tend to tailor our sets to the crowd. It will be pretty techno leaning, and there will be a few new SMD bits as we’re always testing stuff out as we play. We have some more releases lined up for this year.

Where is electronic music right now? Is it a bit stuck or are there new sounds that will blow our heads off the minute we hear them?
It’s in a pretty good place, there’s always loads of new interesting stuff bubbling up, but you have to spend a bit of effort finding it.

Mumford and Sons’ member Winston Marshall revealed last year how Simian Mobile Disco inspired him to make techno music. Mumford and Sons doing Techno, how does that sound to you? You buying that record?
We’re definitely looking forward to hearing what Winston comes up with!

You’ve worked with Muse, Klaxons, The Go! Team, Air and supported The Chemical Brothers live – which artists out there would you like to work with?
Probably Bjork and Nick Cave would be high on our list.

Is this a flying visit to Dubai or will be you trying to check anything out?
Unfortunately it will be in and out this time… such is the way of scheduling shows!

You’re playing Groove on the Grass. What’s in SMD’s picnic hamper?
Whatever unusual local specialities you can provide… after releasing a bunch of tracks named after weird and wonderful delicacies from around the world, we have sometimes been offered the strangest local dish our hosts could come up with when we play shows.

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