Shapeshifters with their ten year history in Dance music can be confidently called pioneers in the sub genre of House Music.
Since their hugely acclaimed and down right amazing debut with the sonically iconic Lola’s Theme (2004) the duo (Simon Marlin and Max Reich) have gone on to literally scorch the landscape of House music with amazing vocalists, fantastic production and amazing melodies that just keep ya dancing.
Let me not however be misleading because ten years since Lola’s Theme is not the beginning of their journey.
“People think that because we had a hit and Lola’s Theme came along that we just came out of nowhere but they forget or do not know the fifteen years before that of doing our own parties and working in the scene”
As Simon Marlin 70% of the duo (mathematicians he is very tall that’s why it’s 70%-or maybe I am short umhh) lets me know while chewing on a Meatball sandwich in Prêt A Manger.
Collectively with histories literally dripping in musical experience the duo have gone on to work with some of the biggest names in music like Christine Aguilera, George Michael, Moby and Madonna.
This year sees them releasing a double cd called Analogue To Digital…And Back Again. A compilation (although Simon states, “it’s like an album”) the first cd sees many of their greatest tracks from their ten year history re-interpreted by some of the biggest names in the House music fraternity-like Little Boots and LaidBack Luke.
Lola’s Theme gets a fresh remix by the duo (which is only fitting and that is a delicious remix). The second cd in turn sees Shapeshifters coming with some fresh cuts-again House heaven as smooth beats cajole you into getting up and just moving-noiceee.
Shapeshifters: A brief historical Reloooooad!
We have always dj’d and both of us probably started dj’ing before producing but we have both been producing for a very long time. Max started dj’ing in Spain when he was 14 and he bought his synthesiser in 91. I started dj’ing in 91 and started throwing parties so we have both been around a while.
For me I was working at different labels learning my craft and doing parties and generally just immersing myself in the world of music as much as possible. Max in the meantime was doing his own raves out in Sweden (illegal ones actually) but he was also doing a lot of underground Techno.
Lola’s Theme-“We had no idea that it was going to be a big track”
We started a label called Nocturnal Groove and the first record we did was Lola’s Theme. We had no idea that it was going to be a big track we just made a track that we enjoyed.
At the time I had a residency at The End and I wanted to make a track that I could play and make the room lift off so we really were not thinking of this track charting it was a track that was meant for the clubs. The funny thing is we did a 1,000 white labels and I remember sitting there with Lola, Max and Simon Halls (who works with us) putting stickers onto the vinyl. We did this just before Christmas-November 2003 so we all went away and we left a number for people to leave an answer phone message (because back then there was not this whole culture of emailing really back then).
When we returned, that answer phone had messages from every dj, radio station, distributor and we thought ‘oh’ there is something in this- and from there it just grew and grew.
Frankie Knuckles-“he has become one of my best friends”.
Sometimes when you meet your heroes it can be a bit of a let down-it is funny when we did Back To Basics (2005) I bumped into Frankie at the House Music awards and he was getting a lifetime achievement award. I took the opportunity when I did meet him to thank him for the inspiration he had given me over the years and that was it.
A couple of months later after Back To Basics was released he phoned me and said he thought Back To Basics was one of the most inspiring records he had ever heard. He wanted me to come and play in Ibiza at Pasha with him in the main room-it sounds clichéd and wet but he is one of the nicest guys that I have met in this business-he has also become a really close friend.
Shapeshifters and being independent.
We released a lot of singles over the seven years that never made it to an album because it was a singles culture and when we were at Defected Records. We always said we wanted to do an album but they were not that interested in us doing an album because it was a singles led culture at the time. So we went away and thought well we are going to do our thing anyway and so we decided to compile an album.
We needed the break we had worked solidly for ten years touring and so forth and it takes it toil and you start to listen to things differently and things start to sound the same-now we have come back from that break we feel refreshed.
So with this album we started to feel a shift about a year ago with the whole EDM scene peaking and people starting to get a little tired of it. People wanted to slow things down a little and get back to real sound and so we re-jigged the studio again and brought in live bass and other stuff and started using all the old analogue sound stuff we had before-things have essentially come full circle.
With this album we initially thought wouldn’t it be nice to get people we know and love to get them to give their take on some of the music that we had not released? Then it changed to why don’t we just get all the music that we have made over the ten years and see what their take will be? We decided we will not mix any of the old stuff apart from Lola’s Theme and we will only mix new tracks -it is actually quite an unusual concept. It subsequently has become this kind of other people’s take and our take on where the sound is now-it actually feels like an album and not a compilation album.
Shapeshifters-bring in the next mix
We already have half of an album completed already. We are six tracks down as far as the album and three of them already have vocal ideas being looked at, there is a lot more live instrumentation on this album. This present album will see us through to at least October, November and then the next album we want to drop that in Spring sometime.
We will be doing Eastern Europe they really vibe out to, we are doing Australia, India and then South Africa (Cape Town and Jo Burg) and hopefully with this new management deal we have been signed with who have offices in America then we will be there as well.
We have also just signed a new management deal with a company called Ibiza Entertainment and we have a residency in Ibiza for the summer which is massive for us. Max has gone out there and we are going to set up a studio out there so it will be a different vibe for six months so that is great.
Analogue To Digital…And Back Again out on the 24th June