Interview by Parisa Eshrati
I was able to do a quick interview via email with Simon Posford of Shpongle before he arrived to Tucson on his tour with Phutureprimitive. We discussed the new Shpongletron, working with Raja Ram, psychedelic experiences, and what we can look forward throughout the year.
You’ve just started your tour with Phutureprimitive, and you’re unveiling the Shpongletron 3.1. Can you tell us a little more about the Shpongletron – who creates it and why is it important to be constantly reinventing it?
Zebbler designed and built it. It's not so important to be reinventing it, but we always saw it as a work in progress, getting tighter and more synced. It's also nice to have new visuals :)
It seems that the visuals give you a place to hide behind while you’re performing, is this intentional? What kind of mindset does this allow you to get in while you’re playing live?
It's not intentional, but it's a nice by product I guess. Whatever the state of the visuals doesn't really affect me anyway, because I'm so focused on what I'm doing. I only notice if it's too dark to see, or too bright to concentrate.
Your first picture from this tour was of some “UFOs” following your bus, which reminded me of this Bill Hicks quote: “I've been on what I call my UFO Tour, which means, like UFOs, I too have been appearing in small southern towns in front of a handful of hillbillies lately. I've been doubting my own existence.” You’re playing a lot of smaller towns, like Tucson, on this tour. Do you think you’d consider this your UFO tour (minus the hillbillies)?
I think one of my previous tours where I was less well known would have been more appropriate... I've certainly doubted my own existence, playing in a sports bar in Flagstaff thinking to myself "Can't you at least turn off the basketball?
I once read an interview where you were trying to describe a DMT experience to someone, but said your explanation wasn’t complete because of our limited form of language. Do you think, then, this is why you create music or why music exists in the first place? Perhaps to further convey messages of consciousness that cannot be explained through language?
I create music so that I don't go mental and end up as some horrible news story about a quiet loner losing it in a mall.
In that interview, you also describe how psychedelic art seems to be slightly culturally bound. How do you feel that your cultural background from growing up in London has manifested through your music – whether it’s the culture, physical environment, etc?
I guess the acid house and warehouse party scene has permeated my music & ethos in some ways.
I’ve heard you briefly mention Delia Derbyshire as one of your influences, and I’d love to dig into that more since she is such an essential artist in electronic music yet is practically unheard of. How did you first discover her, and how does she continue to influence your creative process today?
Because she worked for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop that made so many sounds that delighted & terrified me as a child. She continues to influence me by reminding me that nothing should be too much work in the studio; when I think about how she would sample each note by recording it to tape & physically cutting it... It makes looking through presets on a laptop seem incredibly lame.
You worked at Virgin Records as a teenager, so I’m curious if that experience is what made you want to start your own label, Twisted Records. Additionally, are there any other bands you are hoping to sign onto your label?
No, being signed to Dragonfly Records is what made me want to start my own label. These days Twisted is mostly a boutique label for the various projects I'm involved with.
It looks like you and Raja Ram are in the process of writing a new album. Can you tell us what this process has been like so far and if there is an estimated release date for the album?
We have started 3 tracks, including a Cuban one and a 13/8 one, but there is no release date yet. Probably some time next year.
When describing the musical process between you two, you’ve noted that Raj might paint something which you will later translate into music. Can you describe how the process works of turning something visual into an audio experience?
Sometimes it can be quite literal (the sound of a waterfall or dripping caverns is pretty obvious) or if it's something more obscure like a lake shimmering in the sky I just have to use my imagination. I wouldn't know how to describe the "process" of imagination- I'll leave it to your ...Er, imagination
Lastly, what are some artists or albums you’ve been listening to a lot while on the road of this tour?
We don't really get a lot of time to listen to music, and to be honest I'd rather have silence or watch a show & switch off my brain.
For more information on Shpongle:
All interviews posted before October 2015 were originally recorded for KAMP Student Radio.