Simian Mobile Disco Talk Old Vices and New Tunes

This interview was originally published on MOG's Music Network November 27, 2009. MOG has since been acquired by Beats which is now a part of Apple Music.

What can I possibly say to Simian Mobile Disco that bloggers obsessed with the band’s electro-savvy sound haven’t already asked?

Born from the ashes of Simian, the duo, James Ford and Jas Shaw, worked its way into mainstream consciousness by transforming an original song into club-savvy staple “We Are Your Friends.” The internet has been a big part of their success, and that means there’s a lot of obsessives out there doing interviews and offering analysis. Of course, the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.

When I caught them back stage at San Francisco’s Mezzanine, they detailed their new direction and talked bootlegger blogs, mescal with turkey legs in it, and how they may have killed Michael Jackson by mistake. And I was worried, why?

MOG: I read that you guys look to blogs a lot to discover new music and you even accept fan submissions, encourage them. What are your most trusted sources?

Jas Shaw: There’s quite a few general ones, there’s one called “20 Jazz Funk Greats” which is really good. There’s one called “Alain Finkle Krautrock” which is really good. There’s quite a lot of those sort of things…. Then there’s also quite a few weird little shared communities.

MOG: Shared communities, what are some of your favorite communities?

James Ford: They’re all secret.

JS: Just good old Beatport does the trick.

MOG: A lot of people have remixed your work. Do you embrace that? Is there anything or any song in particular that stood out, any DJ that’s remixed one of your songs?

JS: Yeah, I guess, you know, we kind of got into this through doing remixes. I do think a good remix can be an amazing thing… But, that said, there are too many remixes. I think we’ve had too many remixes and we’re not even the worst offenders. People getting a dozen remixes of a track is out of hand. And, to be honest, I think it actually just…it just makes you look like an idiot. It makes you look like you have no idea what you’re doing and you’re basically guessing.

Often, not without knowing, the label will send out tracks to other people to remix for us and we’ve got back a lot of them and it’s really harsh because I know, essentially, it’s a nasty thing to do to someone but we just don’t want any situation where we’ve got ten remixes of our track going around. It’s not good. So, yeah, apologies to anyone that we’ve kind of thwacked a remix for.

Again, we’ve had loads of great remixes. The next single that we’re putting out, Cruel Intentions, Maurice Fulton who both of us are massive, massive fans of, he agreed to remix for us and he’s done and amazing, amazing version which I really love.

MOG: That’s definitely a valid point. You guys came from the band Simian and then you broke off and have added Mobile Disco onto your name. Would you ever consider getting back into a band in the future or a supergroup or do you prefer this arrangement that you have right now?

JF: We still keep in touch with the other Simian guys quite a lot and although we’re good friends now, probably more than we were when we were in the band, I don’t think it’s likely that we’ll get the band back together.

MOG: On your last album, you collaborated with a lot of artists. Do you see a lot of that same thing happening for your future album and what direction can we expect your sound to go?

JF: Generally, the way we work is quite in reaction to the last thing we’ve done where the next record is probably going to be a collection of more esoteric techno stuff. Probably not involving any vocals or hardly any vocals. Not at this point. No one is invited to this particularly “group” party. Basically, we’re enjoying ourselves.

Good. I did read in a recent Village Voice interview that you would like to collaborate with Prince before he dies.


Jas to James: I bet you said that.

MOG: Have you met him yet? Is there anyone else you feel as strongly about collaborating with?

JS: We haven’t met him yet. We really had high hopes for MJ [Michael Jackson]. I’m not saying Prince is definitely going to die but last year we wanted MJ. This year we wanted Prince. I’m just saying, get a check up…. He’s definitely not going to guest now, is he?

MOG: What’s been your most interesting experience so far on this tour? It sounds like you guys meet a lot of famous people, like Diddy, unexpectedly.

JF: Last night we were in Tijuana, which was a lot of fun. It was Thanksgiving and we played a gig down there for this friend of ours called Jesus.

MOG: Jesus? So, not Jésus [the Hispanic pronunciation] but Jesus?

JF: No, it’s actually Jésus. Yeah, it was great. We had a really amazing time. It has taken a really bad toll today because we didn’t really sleep and drank a lot of mescal, which is pretty vicious stuff. That was probably the most entertaining experience because we’ve only been out for a few days. It was great. We ended up in this strange little mescal bar in Tijuana getting everybody in the bar with us singing along to the jukebox.

That’s great. Did you do any kind of traditional Thanksgiving dinner?

JF: No.

JS: We were supposed to but then…

JF: There was a bottle of mescal there that had a turkey breast in there.

JS: That is SO festive.

JF: Really festive, right?