Simon Baker plays Smartbar this upcoming Saturday, July 14th. Perhaps the mention of his name conjures up memories of his 2007 summer anthem “Plastik”, or the subsequant epic, sprawling Todd Terje Remix. His career in dance music began first as a label boss, providing early exposure for the likes of Jamie Jones, Tim Green, Audiofly and Paul Woodford; now he’s matured into a prolific producer, remixer and regularly touring international DJ.
His debut album Traces dropped in May of last year on the always forward-thinking but generally floor-focused 2020Vision label. It was a very a well-received collection of tracks that, while consisting primarily (but not entirely) of dancefloor tunes, proved to be more than capable as home-listening material as well. The joyous synth stabs of the title track or the infections vocals of the lead single “No Pressure” illustrate this perhaps best of all.
His sound is clearly influenced by classic house music but without a whiff of nostaliga or “retro for the sake of retro”. Adept at crafting bouncy basslines and overall high production values as a producer, his recent work is marked with a sense of restraint and intelligence, while still being unabashedly dancefloor-friendly. Of particular concern to this upcoming Saturday is the fact that his dj sets are always dotted with fresh talents; If the names Julio Bashmore, Subb-an, PBR Streetgang and Ossie don’t mean anything to you now, they likely will in the year or two to come.
Have ever toured North America before? Any particularly memorable gigs? Anything crazy, for better or worse ever happen on tour in the foreign country?
Yes, I have been to that part of the world a few times now. Always enjoy it and I seem to get along with the people very well here – they seem to like the English dry sarcasm vibes a little more, which suits me! Gig wise, I would say Toronto is the stand out gig. I played in a warehouse space with Matthew Dear and Nitin – amazing vibes.
Which artists, contemporary or past, do you consider inspirational for your own productions? Any particular artists out there at the moment that you frequently play in your dj sets? I like a lot of the old US house guys, always have. (Not just because they are trendy now! Or some of them, anyway) I am pretty old school in my late 30’s, and started with the likes of Todd Terry and Marshall Jefferson. I still have many of the early records in my collection. My early clubbing days started at the Hacienda in Manchester so I was heavily influenced by those days, Greame Park, Mike Pickering and so on. I later got into the more Detroit techno side of things. These days I listen and play tracks from many newer producers including guys like Wbeeza, Franck Roger, Subb-an, DJ W!ld, Mosca and a ton more. There are some great new producers around at the mo. Thankfully many of that loopy Ableton crew have died away now giving room to good solid producers with great new ideas.
What is your all-time favorite remix of a Simon Baker original? Mine is Todd Terje’s take on Plastik but there have probably been a whole lot of your productions/singles since then… Same, hands down! He made a classic out of the original, which had already done really well for me. He approached me direct asking for the parts as he loved the original so much and had an idea for a remix. It went from there really.
In your tracks I hear a lot of good dance floor grooves and production values that one might not fully appreciate the without a nice pair of headphones or a club soundsystem… do you produce anything outside of dance music?
Well, my album “Traces” from last year on 2020 Vision wasn’t all dance floor. I guess it sat somewhere in the middle. I have always wanted to produce bands but never had the opportunity so far. It’s nice that someone is listening though
Do you watch The Mentalist, and if so, are you attempting to reclaim the position of most famous Simon Baker in the world?
Ha, I get this so often now. He’s like a thorn in my side that guy, I get messages on Twitter and even Facebook saying, “Wow I didn’t realize you could act and make music and DJ! PLEASE ADD ME.” I’m like, have you got eyes or what? Surely if they were such good fans they would definitely know what their idol looks like, no?