London's Simian Mobile Disco isn't just another electronic production duo – they're industry leaders in challenging the norms of the expectation on how music is made. Known for everything from producing radio hits in their early days working together to bringing different types of production that may seem out of date beautifully into the present, James Ford and Jas Shaw have a deep knowledge and passion for making music. With their latest album Whorl that was released earlier this month, they continued on that path of pushing musical boundaries by making an album entirely live with a minimal amount of equipment available to them to do so. And, it was made in the wilderness.
Whorl is an album at its best when listened as that: an album in its entirety. As the music making experience for SMD was a journey, the listening experience should be one too. With visuals paired to each song that were themselves made by the vibration of sound, Whorl is a multi-faceted experience. We got to chat with the guys about making the album and their plans in the future as well – check it out below.
EARMILK: How did you meet and know that you wanted to make music together?
SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO: We met at Uni, through a noticeboard for musicians – so we met knowing we wanted to make music together already.
EM: For those new to your music – how would you describe it?
EM: Tell us a bit about the concept of making this album. How did you look to make this different than what's out there and from what you've done before?
SMD: We re-designed our live set up, getting rid of the laptop, replacing it with hardware sequencers, and keeping it down to one modular synth each. This gave us a very portable set up, and we used the one system for composing in the studio and playing live, so there's no difference to the two processes now.
EM: Tell us a bit about the technical aspect of making this album – what were the parameters you gave yourselves? What did you use?
SMD: The technical set up was the concept really. We had one sequencer and one modular synth each, a mixing desk and a couple of effects pedals. That was it. We wanted to restrict ourselves, to force us into being creative with a limited set up.
EM: It seems like you like to challenge yourselves in making music – is this a theme throughout your career so far?
SMD: We like to try and do something different with every record. There's no point sitting still and making the same album over and over again.
EM: What's something you're proud of?
SMD: Most of our music we're proud of!
EM: This was an impressive work – what's next?
SMD: Not sure at the moment. we had a lot of fun making this record, so we might like to repeat the process. Maybe in a different location? We'll see.
Simian Mobile Disco