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Bonobo Wraps Up World Tour In India This Week

British downtempo producer Simon Green on his studio secrets and his role in changing electronica

Jessica Kilbane Dec 08, 2014
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Bonobo

For British beatmaker Simon Green, who performs under the alias Bonobo, electronica is more than just a combination of synths and samples. Says the 35-year-old artist, “The process is sort of like doodling on a canvas. The songs come from playing with sounds and experimenting with fragments. One sound may suggest another and inspire a process.” By the time his fourth album Black Sands released in 2010, Bonobo turned into a sought-after artist, who has performed across four continents, in over 25 countries, at venues that range from the Sydney Opera House in Australia to Coachella festival in the United States. His list of collaborators swells every year and now includes the likes of noted American singer Erykah Badu.

Green, who made a name for himself at the same time when Air and Röyksopp were dominating the charts, is now one of downtempo electronica’s most influential figures. Mirroring the eclecticism of artists like Bjork, the producer challenges popular notion of what constitutes beat music. Unlike his bass-heavy counterparts, Green’s work is stripped down and mashes up 4/4 beats with jazz, hip-hop and house influences. Green also has a penchant for found sounds and has recorded everything from escalators in Hong Kong, to washing machines to marbles bouncing off piano strings when sourcing ideas for his music. Adds the artist, “I’m always collecting sounds and sketching ideas. When you’re working in the studio you never really know whether it’s going to work on stage with musicians, but the fun part is trying. It’s an exciting process to break the tracks apart again and explore how they can be performed live.”

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Beginning his career as a member of several indie rock bands in the Nineties, Green soon grew tired of band rehearsals and compromising his ideas. Says the producer, “If you start making music for other people then it stops becoming honest. The music that I was making on my own was actually more in line with what I wanted to create.” Beginning with his first solo album Animal Magic in 2000, Green gradually developed a following for his of jazzy, downtempo electronica and is often credited as one of the early pioneers of the genre. Says Green, “Even though it is electronic music, the source material most of the time is still an acoustic instrument.”

While in the past, the artist’s shows have involved 12-piece bands that included vocalists, saxophonists and even a string section to perform extended live versions of the songs on 2013’s The North Borders, Green will travel with a six-piece ensemble for his debut performance in the country this month. Says the producer, “We’ve done about 200 shows for this tour, and India is the last place we’ll visit. I have an expectation of what it will be like, Mumbai especially, but I’m sure it will be completely different.” For Green though, there’s no slowing down. Having just released his latest EP Flashlight, the artist intends to move to California early next year and begin work on a new record.

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Listen to “Flashlight” by Bonobo:


Bonobo performs at Johnnie Walker: The Journey on December 13th at Mehboob Studios, Mumbai.

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