simian mobile disco
Simian Mobile Disco represents the English electronic music duo and production team founded in 2005 in London. James Ford and Jas Shaw. Two men. Three letters. SMD. Electronic pioneers. DJs. Producers. They’ve been tearing up dance-floors around the world for the past few years, but how did their story begin, and where will it end…?
Back in the late ‘90s, James and Jas were studying folklore and physics respectively at Manchester University, while crafting strange electronic music in the spare room of their shared house. Although he eventually dropped out of his course, Jas’s grounding in quantum physics was to come in useful later: the drum pattern on SMD’s early white label Tits & Acid was based on matrix mechanics devised by Werner Heisenberg.
Soon the duo started knocking out their own tunes, releasing limited edition early bangers such as The Count, Fake Bake, and Clam Digger on friend’s labels like I’m Cliché and Kitsune, Catnip and Wax Fuckface. One early tune – Epilectrics – infamously had to be withdrawn from record stores when it was found to induce fits in dogs and Tweenagers alike.
The boys even started their own underground club, Night Owl Sanctuary, which migrated through various East London locations including an abattoir, an abandoned clog factory and Carl Barat’s mum’s house. Sadly the legendary night had be to abandoned after a mix-up in which six hundred ravers turned up at a real owl sanctuary in Suffolk causing the unfortunate death of a Long Eared Barn Owl.
All the while, Jas and James were putting together the set of tunes that would eventually form their debut album. Keen for their songs not to sound too techy and programmed, SMD recorded them all on analogue machines, and kept the mistakes. For example, f you listen very carefully to the end of Hotdog you can hear James swearing as he realises he’s taped over the end of 90210. They decided to name the album Attack Decay Sustain Release, partly after various synthesiser effects, but also because ADSR stands for Auto Deficient Serotonin Response, a genetic condition from which Jas suffers that makes him unable to experience any real moments of genuine happiness.
Released in summer 2007, Attack Decay Sustain Release garnered rave reviews and firmly established SMD as leaders of the acid house-rock-crossover scene. Off the back of the album’s success, the boys have toured Europe, America, Japan and many less important countries. Their favourite gig so far was undoubtedly a New Year’s Eve party aboard the same battle ship on which Cher shot the video for If I Could Turn Back Time.