Simon Flower placed himself into DJing exile a number of years ago to hone his production techniques; and now with releases popping up on Poker Flat, Moon Harbour and Curl Curl that hard work is paying off. His tracks often have more parts packed into them than you could feasibly number and possess a style that provides a simultaneous contrast of light and dark elements. Having lived with Simon for a number of years and DJed alongside him at various clubs in New Zealand, I have long been aware of his faultless DJ style, so he seemed like an obvious choice for an exclusive LWE podcast. It didn’t take much coaxing to get him to put together this mix entitled “Act Natural,” which stitches together a selection of recent house and techno picks with a few older classics all assembled in his kinetic, fluid manner. (interview by Per Bojsen-Moller)
LWE Podcast 11: Simon Flower (54:37)
01. [a]pendics.shuffle, “Mas Lines” (Mikael Stravostrand remix)
[Ransom Note Footnote]
02. Tom Ellis, “bAd SoN” [Floppy Funk]
03. DOP, “I’m Just a Man” [Eklo]
04. D Dub, “Deep Blue” (Stimming remix) [Takt]
05. The Armaberokay, “The Hype” (Marc Schneider & Ralf Schmidt remix) [Einmaleins Musik]
06. Alexi Delano, “What Is Control” (Adultnapper’s What’s The Point remix) [Audiomatique Recordings]
07. Antonio Pocai, “14-12″ [M_nus]
08. Solid Gold Playaz, “Le Soul Afrique” [Kanzleramt]
09. Mathias Kaden, “Masai Mara” [Mutek_Rec]
10. Kerri Chandler, “Bar A Thym” [NRK Sound Division]
11. Robert Hood, “And Then We Planned Our Escape” [Music Man Records]
12. Gregor Tresher, “Break New Soil” [Moon Harbour Recordings]
13. Shed, “Selection One” [Soloaction Records]
14. Chiapet, “Westworld” [Yoshitoshi Recordings]
15. Daniel Stefanik, “Liquid” [Moon Harbour Recordings]
Check out an interview with Simon Flower after the jump.
The diligent trainspotters out there will be aware of you under a previous guise as Peak:shift. You kind of resurfaced after what seemed like a bit of a break from releasing, but now under your real name (if Simon Flower is your real name). Why the name change?
Simon Flower: Well sure, “Flower” would be a great stage name if this was 1968! So it couldn’t be anything but my real name. Not quite sure why I stopped using Peak:shift, just seemed to feel right at the time. I think I first started using Peak:shift when I was about 20 years old, which is a while ago now… although I guess in my mind I also connect it to the deeper music I made at that time, so it’ll definitely come out again sometime soon.
Your style has really changed, or perhaps one would say evolved from your earlier work, which was much deeper. You tend to go for more of a dance floor feel these days. What’s moved you to go in this direction?
Nothing momentous really, I think I just got better at it! Writing deeper or more melancholy music comes pretty naturally, and is still my true love. I’ve always loved and DJed more upfront dance music, especially techno, but never thought my own output was good enough. I’ve certainly worked at it. Even so, I think in most of my tracks that have been released over the last couple of years I’ve managed to sneak some deep tones in there, especially with my sometimes obsessively annoying penchant for strings.
People are usually incredulous that you produce everything solely in Reason. Tell us about your special affinity with this software, and whether you’re curious to try out any other DAW’s.
Haha, yeah, I get this a lot! Even more so when people see me using it to play live — which honestly I don’t really get. Reason is surely is the most “live” of all the DAWs, in that it is simply a virtual hardware studio and runs as such. As for the others, I think all DAWs are amazing; Reaktor and Ableton are stunning, but like any instrument you have to find the one which suits you most, and for me it simply comes down to work flow. Coming from a background growing up in the immediacy of a hardware studio, I connect pretty seamlessly with Reason. I don’t need to spend much time mucking around with the “computer” side of things.
You’re releasing mostly on German labels, but are currently residing in New Zealand. Are you tempted to join the Berlin camp of immigrant producers?
Yep, certainly have been tempted; and if I didn’t have the chance I currently have to play regularly throughout Europe then I would probably consider it much more seriously. But I think at heart I’m happiest here living a pretty chill life and making tunes. Also, sometimes making music far removed from any big music scene can have it’s advantages (or at least I tell myself that when I’m feeling jealous).
You’ve been focusing mainly on producing for the last five years or so, but have been a DJ for a long time previously. How was it putting the mix together and what did you use to do it?
Yeah, I hadn’t really DJed for years, and my last mix CD was actually from about 2002. But I’ve really had the bug back in the last 6 months or so. Really buzzing on doing stupidly long mixes, and tried to get some of that into this mix. For example, the creative spark for this mix really came about from how much I loved how Hood’s and Treshor’s tracks could rock together for such a long time. I did it in Traktor with two decks using my Edirol controller keyboard to control things — nothing tricky (just volume and high pass filter) — and with as smooth mixes as possible, as I wanted the focus to be completely on all these amazing tracks.
Who are your favorite producers and recent discoveries right now? Actually, care to make us a top 10?
I think like a lot of other people I’m pretty much enamored with the sound of Berghain/Ostgut Ton related artists at the moment, especially Shed, Marcel Dettmann, Radio Slave etc. For an old school techno head like me this is an exciting development in the sound, to my ears equal parts referential, emotive and forward thinking. Apart from this, there are really are just loads of artists. To my ears there is more great music surfacing now than I’ve heard in years. Anyhoo, here’s a current top 10, tracks in no particular order.
Andi Numan, “Glass Roots” [Curl Curl]
Wax, “100001_2″ [Wax]
Guillaume & the Coutu Dumonts, “Strange Place of Mind” [Raum…musik]
Kenny Larkin, “Glob” [Planet E]
EQD, “A” [Equalized]
Scuba, “Poppies” (Substance Dub) [Hotflush]
Detroit People Mover, “Elicit Emissions” [Sixonesix]
Delta Funktionen, “Nebula” [Ann Aimee]
Brothers’ Vibe, “The Difference” [Nervous]
Colin Hobbs, “Ocean Trench” (Scuba remix) [White Noise Recordings]
What can we expect from Simon Flower over the next year?
I have another Poker Flat EP out in the new year, and beyond that who knows.
LWE Podcast 11: Simon Flower