This Friday’s mix is by Simbad, the French producer who’s a quiet staple of Europe’s house scene.
A member of various groups, including Izmabad (with Karizma), Les Barons and Marathon Men, Simbad has been releasing singles and albums since 2001, with a trademark sound that thrives on untreated, right-first-time instrumentation and warm analog synths on the sort of broken tip that brings to mind recent peer Altered Natives.
We’ve been trying to get him to do a FACT mix for ages now, but with the help of the Sunsplash Festival, where Simbad, Jamie Lidell and more will be playing this summer, we finally pinned him down between tours.
The results are immaculate, with Pepe Bradock, Ramadanman, Shed, Rhythm & Sound, Burial (Simbad’s own beautiful remix of ‘Fostercare’) and more featuring. Tracklist follows the download link, turn the page for a full interview with Simbad.
(Available for three weeks)
1 Rhythm & Sound – See Mi Yah
2 Burial – Fostercare (Simbad Remix)
3 Azymuth – Pieces Of Ipanema (Mark Pritchard Remix)
4 Neon Phusion – Its Another
5 Marino Berardi – Best Intention (Christo Perspective)
6 International Pony – Bubble In The Bottle (Pépé Bradock Remix)
7 Aroop Roy ft Sacha Williamson – Lonely Years (Simbad Dub)
8 Ezel ft Tamara Wellons – In My Lifetime (Deetron Remix)
9 Karizma – Groove A’K’Ordingly (Atjazz Remix)
10 Shed – Masque
11 I.D & Baobinga – Man Down
12 Rubberneck – Keep On Giving Love (Bump & Flex Dub)
13 Ramadanman – Don’t Change For Me
14 Maddslinky & Skream – 50 Shades Of Peng
15 F – Energy Distortion (Untold Remix)
16 J:Kenzo – Conqueror
17 Kyle Hall – Kaychunk
18 Breakage – Over
19 Osborne – Afrika (Bullion Remix)
20 Darwin’s Theory – Keep On Smiling
Simbad – what’s your background? You’re originally French, where did you grow up?
“Yeah I’m French and Polish but born in Peru and due to my parents work I travelled all over the world, growing up in different cultures and many countries (a year here, a year there, etc. etc.) with my family…Funnily enough I only arrived in Europe to live when I was 15. And moved to London when I was 19.”
What were your first forays into music making?
“Well I’d say doing sessions for house, garage & 2step guys here in London (I was playing sax or keyboards for them) really got me into the studio world, one day one of the sound engineer didn’t turn up so I jumped behind the computer and started the session as i used to observe how he’d do it you know…but yeah we eventually started a label and built a recording studio (Key Recordings, Je Ne Sais Quoi Rec.) with my french buddy Freddy McQuinn around 2001 in East London. Jammer, Ray Keith, Zinc & few more cats used to have their studio in the same building…”
Which artists – house producers and otherwise – have inspired you over the years?
“Waaaaaaaaow. Tuff question as there’s so many! All the UK cats for sure like like MJ Cole, Zed Bias, Mark Pritchard, El-B, IG Culture, Bugz in the Attic crew, Atjazz, Charles Webster, Phil Asher, Jimpster but also the whole Detroit techno/house family, from Kenny Larkin to Kenny Dixon Jr, Juan Atkins, Kai Alce or Carl Craig you know, not to mention other fellow french dons like Pépé Bradock and I-Cube or the Jazzanova crew from Berlin, other US guys like MAW, Kerri Chandler, Madlib and Dilla or Dj Premier…I mean honestly this is only the tip of the iceberg. I collect vinyl and love my jazz, funk, disco & African shizzle, so obviously that’s a big musical influence too, my true heroes come from everywhere [laughs]”
How did moving to London affect your music?
“Met a lot of Jungle/DNB djs when I was 18-19 (we were throwing down Jungle nites in Paris with a crew at the time) and they were always tellin’ me to come check out the scene in London so thats what I did, finally packed my horn & left for a summer, ended up living in a squat in Stockwell and basically stayed. I really discovered the whole spectrum of British dance Music and the Jamaican influence going to clubs, raves, parties and festivals, slowly by slowly moving from the live scene to the more electronic/studio/DJ kinda one…I love it, there’s always something bubbling here, from the pirate radio culture to the internetm I mean the whole evolution is ridiculous!”
How would you describe your music to those that don’t know you?
“Well I’d say first its mainly electronic soul, mainly dancefloor shhhh but not always… House or bruk or with singers or not, I just do what I feel at the time…Hopefully trying to make tunes that can stand the test of time basically – doesn’t happen often though! [laughs]. I like my shhh deep in general. And raw, of course.”
Yeah, there’s a lot of analogue, untreated sounds to your music – it’s both an observation and something I’ve seen you mention in an interview. Do you still play traditional instruments?
“As mentioned earlier I totally come from a musician’s background, I started sax and keys (plus other various tings) before I got into the whole production world and got to know about reverbs, compression and analog board, so yeah, started mainly with an analog set up and cracked programs but nowadays its just a computer and synths on the side mainly, plus DJing has taken over more and more so having a laptop in airports becomes a standard [laughs] but yeah I still play keys or drums a bit when going into production mode, still learning everyday new techniques…It’s quite amazing how all the knowledge that we used to craft with the analog gear is now so easy to find on internet and get applied on the digital, really fascinating. I love it personally.”
You work in different groups and under different aliases – there’s Loose Ensemble, Mowgly, your work with Karizma as Izmabad, and more. Is there a reason you do so much music in so many differentg guises?
“Well most of the time its collaborations like Marathon Men (with Freddy McQuinn, we had an LP on Chillifunk Rec. in 2004 and various singles), TettoryBad (with the Jazzy Sport crew in Japan) or Izmabad (still new stuff to be dropped soon!), we just vibing in the studio innit? You dont always get that chemistry with everyone but when it happens its like two universes collide into a new one, and yea you learn as well and exchange ideas/ways of producing, it’s good vibes really. Sometimes using aliases was to have a certain freedom with labels etc… but now i just stick mainly to Simbad, whether it confuses people or not if i make different styles…”
Tell us about the mix you’ve done for FACT.
“[laughs] Well remember you asked me for that one aaaaages ago so before I hit the US this time (I’m doin a lil’ tour for 2 months) I had to record that mixtape, simple really, just what I had in my box that nite (yeah, its vinyl nd CDs, a crappy mixer and thats it), these days I really love to mix my house, techno & dubstep/garage/bruk all together, makes sense to me and to the dancefloor naaamean?”
What projects do you have going on at the moment, and planned for the near future?
“Got a bunch of new remixes coming out that I did for Maddslinky, Piranahead, Nickodemus, Sonar Pilot (Simbad Remixes LP Vol. 2 out in June on Key Rec) , beats for french MC Grems (he’s gonna be so massive), few projects like a boogie/funk thing featuring various singers for the Stones Throw guys, two singles with a dope singer called Brian Temba (from South Africa), entittled ‘Dominoes’ and ‘Come Join In’ (soon on Raw Fusion) other singles with various labels on the electronic side you know, whether it’s dubstep, bruk or house. Also the album that I produced for Donn T (Questlove’s sister) is about to drop on MoreAboutMusic with the firs single being remixed by Zed Bias and Deetron…Few other tingz but can’t remember right now, I’m mashed from Miami…[laughs]
Oh yeah we got sme dope beats that we did quickly with lady Cooly G, I’m sure thats gonna be ready to come out for the summer. Plus the Blu James album is finished and mixed (produced by Mark Force, Dego, Daz-I-Kue, myself etc…) but we’re still looking for a label on that one. Ahh yeah, and some African edits ready to drop with the Sofrito Crew, proper roots beauties.”
Which current artists are you currently feeling?
“All that new generation of current UK beat makers, Floating Points, Pangaea, Ramadanman, Cooly G, D-Malice, Breakage, Roska, Digital Mystikz Crew, the new Benga is sick, J Kenzo, Mosca, maaaaan so many [laughs], Kyle Hall, DZ, swiss cats Michel Cleis & Deetron, Pezzner, Pablo Fierro, Ezel, much more but I gotta stop there, I’m hungry, need to eat!”