Bonobo interview: music for the heart — and feet

Simon Green — stage name Bonobo — in functionality © Jason Kempin/Getty Photos

From Kraftwerk to Daft Punk, electronic artists have frequently operated on a far more mysterious level than their rock counterparts, satisfied to exist as shadowy characters behind the machines they develop their music on. The British producer and DJ Simon Green has had a 15-year career as the artist Bonobo, however you’d be unlikely to recognise him walking down the street.

“People don’t necessarily know who I am,” he tells me on the phone from his present residence in LA. “Some individuals feel Bonobo is a band. I don’t make character-driven music. Personality stagnates, individuals turn into tired of it. When it is purely about the music, that is what provides it longevity.”

Not that the 40-year-old is a studio hermit. Functioning at the forefront of electronic acts blurring the distinctions among digital and live instrumentation, he has acquired a expanding reputation over the course of five acclaimed albums as his sound has evolved and blossomed from languid hip-hop-influenced instrumentals to a lot more complex compositions, mixing vocally charged, beat-driven dance music with precisely layered, brooding soundscapes. His relentless international touring and DJ schedule has noticed him play everywhere from sellout shows at Sydney Opera Property and Glastonbury festival to six-hour sessions in New York clubs. Without having a mainstream chart hit or Mercury Prize nomination, Green has established himself as an artist who creates intricate electronica that taps into deep, human feelings but also tends to make you want to dance, and has racked up half a million record sales and 150m streams on Spotify.

Look up Bonobo performances on YouTube and you can see the two sides to this quietly spoken man. On his groundbreaking North Borders tour, where he played to more than 2m individuals at 175 shows in 30 nations, you can see him onstage with his 12-piece band at London’s Alexandra Spot in 2014, flitting in between instruments and triggering samples. But you can also discover videos of Green DJing in sweaty clubs, whipping up a celebration with a deftly sequenced set of underground dance records.

His upcoming sixth album, Migration, mixes both these sides. “There is not this polarised issue of electronic music versus acoustic music any a lot more. I use electronic strategies to make non-electronic music. It is basically editing and compiling sound in a human way and utilizing the gear to collage the sound. If you believe of electronic music in the traditional sense, like Detroit techno or Kraftwerk, it is actually sound generated by machines. What I am undertaking is collaging sound from acoustic sources. Rather than music made by machines, it is music made with machines.”

Green grew up in rural Hampshire to folk-loving parents. “My parents and two sisters were wonderful musicians but my family’s approach to music was constantly way more academic than mine. They were virtuoso players. But they have been all impressed that I could sit down at a piano and discover a melody. We had a different strategy, we had mutual envy.”

As a teenager he turned to rock music: “When I was 16 I was in a neo hardcore band referred to as Finger Charge. I played the drums with my shirt off.” But a move to Brighton to study at art school in the late 1990s introduced him to the south coast town’s burgeoning beats scene, centred on neighborhood label Tru Thoughts. “It was a quite informative time. We have been coming out of the rave and trip-hop era, making use of primitive samplers for the first time and playing with cut-and-paste loops from old records.”

Taking his stage name from Will Self’s 1997 novel Wonderful Apes, he released two instrumental albums, Animal Magic and Dial ‘M’ for Monkey, the second on the influential label Ninja Tunes. But it was his third record, 2006’s Days to Come, that saw him moving away from the chill-out, downtempo, sampling scene and incorporating far more organic soul and jazz grooves and the vocals of the Indian-born singer Bajka. As a outcome, Green began to change the way he performed his personal music. “I had been playing clubs in Europe but when I went to America they scheduled me in live music venues. I felt like: ‘This is actually weird. Cease watching me!’ The audience had been staring at me as if I was performing a piano recital when I was playing club music in the middle of a genuinely brightly lit stage.”

In response, he assembled a band to try and replicate the sound of the records: “There was adequate instrumentation that I could break it down to drums and keyboards with me playing bass — similar to the bands I was in at college. But it wasn’t actually operating. So we turned off the backing track and we just locked in and had this eureka moment.”

After his fourth album, Black Sands, Green started spending escalating amounts of time in the US and moved to New York in 2010 five years later he moved west to Los Angeles.

In LA, Green has located himself component of a neighborhood of like-minded musicians, such as British electronic producer and Coldplay collaborator Jon Hopkins: “There is a extremely inventive mindset in LA proper now and everyone is truly prepared to connect and collaborate, a lot more so than I discovered in New York or London. People like Jon moved out and there are bands on my street like Grizzly Bear and Vampire Weekend. It feels like an incubating moment for creativity out right here proper now.”

Migration reflects this change in Green’s life. Elemental in scope, it utilizes voices, including samples of R’n’B star Brandy and folk legend Pete Seeger as alien textures, rubbing alongside identified sounds and hypnotic beats. “I road-tested a single half of the album DJing. Some of it was developed in a transitory state, at 7am in a departure lounge at an airport with the club nonetheless ringing in my ears. The other half came when I stopped and the dust settled. I identified myself living alone in this new city. My dad passed away last year, and I turned 40. So I have been assessing where I was and who I was. I was going by means of these waves of weirdness, and the far more sombre components of the record are from that period.”

It is a beguiling mix, and a single that few other electronic artists pull off.

‘Migration’ is released on Ninja Tune on January 13. For reside dates see

For a ‘Best of Bonobo’ Spotify playlist compiled by the FT, click right here

Section: Arts

The year the music died?

Pop music mourns its dead in shades of feeling and opportunism. The tone was set when Buddy Holly and two other rock and roll singers, Ritchie Valens and JP Richardson, died in a plane crash in 1959. A week later a Californian radio DJ called Tommy Dee had readied a tribute record, “Three Stars”, which sold a lot more than 1m copies. (Dee tried the very same when Patsy Cline and two other nation singers died in an additional plane crash in 1963, but the record flopped.)

Over the decades, with the expanding roll-contact of renowned deaths, commemoration has grow to be an market. Archive recordings are tricked out for posthumous release — this year witnessed the 60th Jimi Hendrix album to seem since his demise in 1970. Box-sets act as portable funerary monuments, a mini-necropolis for living-area shelves.

Amongst the most current is a 17-CD collection of Lou Reed’s solo albums, packaged in a tomblike black slab and remastered below Reed’s “direct individual supervision”. It was, intones the label, Sony Legacy Recordings, with grave emphasis, “his last project”.

This year’s crop of deaths has tested pop’s mourning capacity to the limit. It began with David Bowie dying in January at the age of 69. Then Prince, 57, followed 3 months later. Leonard Cohen, 82, died in November. Christmas brought news of George Michael’s death at 53. Each was a shock.

Cohen was frail, while Bowie turned out to have been gravely ill — but each released effective albums ahead of their deaths. The songs have been suffused with an awareness of mortality, yet they possessed a force that recommended that their makers have been somehow inextinguishable. Even though Prince’s current releases had been far more erratic in quality, he remained an apparently ageless live performer. Michael’s health was precarious but he reportedly planned generating new music in 2017.

The quartet’s deaths prompted familiar responses. There were makeshift shrines and impromptu wakes, like these at Graceland following Elvis Presley died in 1977 or at the Dakota Constructing following John Lennon’s murder in 1980. Tribute concerts were held, as they have been for other greats. At Freddie Mercury’s tribute show at Wembley Stadium in 1992, Bowie, who was at that point in the artistic doldrums — held up as the acme of the embarrassing middle-aged rock star — was mocked for falling melodramatically to his knees and reciting the Lord’s prayer.

Yet there was an edge to this year’s mourning. The felling of four key figures from numerous different eras of music gave the impression of an complete tradition under threat. “I know something is extremely incorrect,” Bowie sang on Blackstar, released two days ahead of he died, an album of dislocated, jazz-rock time signatures and topsy-turvy imagery. Our sense of loss at his death, the notion that we would by no means see his like once more, carried a new note of anxiousness. Why will we by no means see his like once again?

Tributes left for George Michael © Getty

Pop music is constantly altering. Unpredictable trends blow across its landscape like climate fronts. The audience is passionate but temporary most folks quit listening to new music in their late 20s. Bowie was a maestro at managing the alterations but the majority of performers are undone by them. Tommy Dee, Holly’s memorialist, is one particular of many thousands of one particular-hit wonders.

Endings loom massive. At the most basic level there is the unit of the song itself, an abbreviated knowledge lasting 3 minutes or so. The finish is often nigh, delivered by a dramatic final flourish of drums or a slow fade into silence. The life or death of the song depends on our willingness to play it again.

Revolving around the weekly battle in the charts, pop is defined by competition. Genres are set in opposition to each other, rivals contending for dominance. “Death to hippies” was punk’s slogan as it vied to kill off progressive rock. “You are now watching the greatest living rock star on the planet,” Kanye West announced throughout his headline set at Glastonbury in 2015, a harbinger of rap supremacy.

Rock and roll’s demise was imagined as early as 1957 when The Maddox Brothers and Rose, advertising themselves as “America’s most colourful hillbilly band”, released a single called “The Death of Rock and Roll”, a sardonic take on Elvis Presley’s “I Got a Woman”. In 1969, The Doors added their own stamp to the theme with a bluesy jam, “Rock Is Dead”, which ended with Jim Morrison announcing: “As long as I got breath, the death of rock is the death of me.”

Morrison died in 1971. That year Don McLean sang about “the day the music died” in his hit “American Pie”. The reference was not to the ill-fated Lizard King, identified dead in a Paris bathtub, but to the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly. McLean viewed it as the juncture when US pop lost its innocence. Even in the peak year of 1971 — music writer David Hepworth argues in his most current book, 1971: Never ever a Dull Moment that it was rock’s high-water mark — even then the music could be portrayed as having lost its way.

Over the previous decade the threnodies have accelerated. Album sales have plummeted, with 2016 shaping up to be the worst-performing year in the US since sales have been first tracked in 1991. Digital streaming and internet platforms represent the largest change to listening habits since the advent of radio in the 1920s. Throughout this intense period of transformation, “death of rock” forecasts have been superseded by other extinction events: “death of the album”, “death of the charts”, even “death of the music industry”.

Insisting that pop is dead is generational hoarding, a belief that it ended when one’s personal interest waned

Amid the accumulation of morbid rhetoric, the deaths of Bowie, Prince, Cohen and Michael felt like a tipping point, the moment when a metaphor became real. Though from different generations and backgrounds, they occupied a equivalent musical climate, primarily based about a cluster of main record labels and a normal stream of revenue from recorded music sales. It was not an excellent planet: Prince and Michael spent much of the 1990s in furious disputes with their record labels. But it was stable. Absolutely everyone knew how it operated, even if they chafed against it.

These days have ended. Pop music now is a confusing tangle of diverse interests. Record labels are challenged by tech companies. The numbers of musicians and recordings develop even though revenues fall. PRS for Music, which collects royalties on behalf of UK songwriters, saw its membership rise from 70,000 in 2010 to 112,000 in 2015.

Uncertain of what lies ahead, it is natural to dwell on the death of what came just before. The mistake arises in assuming that pop music itself is dying.

Every single generation believes the music it grew up listening to is the very best. Condescension cuts both ways. For every traditionalist who abhors the computerised warbling of Auto-Tune, there is a current pop fan to whom anything made before 2010 is prehistoric.

But the dismissal is specifically ungenerous when directed by these who have stopped listening to new music towards those who do. Insisting that pop is dying or dead is a form of generational hoarding, a belief that it ended when one’s personal interest waned.

We will not see the likes of David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen or George Michael once more. The conditions that produced them have changed as well considerably. But the thought that pop is a historical quirk, lasting roughly 40 years from the mid-1950s, diminishes their legacy. They are less wonderful than we thought if the music stops with them.

Illustration by Sarah Hanson

Photograph: Getty Images

Listen to the FT’s new culture podcast

Introducing Almost everything Else, our new weekly podcast about culture in the broadest sense. Feel film not finance, style not stocks, and music not markets.

In the very first episode we tackle our age of narcissism and regardless of whether it’s genuinely so undesirable to take selfies (most likely not) plus “bad boy” theatre director Ivo van Hove reveals how his punk origins still inspire his operate.

The award-winning London poet, rapper and writer Kate Tempest talks in the second episode about the “beauty in rough lives” and what William Blake and the Wu-Tang Clan have in common.

Politics and culture in the age of anger dominates episode 3. The Indian author and essayist Pankaj Mishra visits the FT to go over how the seismic events of 2016 have revealed a planet in chaos later we hear from Njideka Akunyili Crosby, the artist exploring the myth of the “authentic African experience”.

The historian and FT contributing editor Simon Schama joins us in the studio to talk about all that was excellent (Hamilton the musical), poor (the unmasking of Elena Ferrante) and ugly (president-elect Donald Trump’s tweets) in 2016.

Every single new episode of Almost everything Else, which is presented by FT Weekend journalists John Sunyer and Griselda Murray Brown, is published on Thursdays in all the usual areas you discover podcasts, like iTunes, Stitcher and at From a desktop or laptop, you can also locate the show at Please get in touch to let us know what you consider of the podcast by emailing

Section: Arts

Will Calvin Harris And Taylor Swift Ever Make Music With each other?

Calvin Harris is at present riding high off the release of “This Is What You Came For,” his killer new tune with Rihanna. But the Scottish DJ is also searching ahead to his subsequent collaboration, which — sorry to disappoint you, Tayvin fans — will most likely not involve his girlfriend, Taylor Swift.

On Friday, Harris appeared on On Air with Ryan Seacrest, where the host asked if he and Swift would ever think about creating sweet, sweet music with each other.

“You know, we haven’t even spoken about it,” Harris told Seacrest. “I cannot see it happening, though. No. She’s about to take a long break, you know?” One she “absolutely” deserves, he added.

Embedded from

Harris did, even so, reveal that he has “half a song” in the performs with Ellie Goulding, which is promising news, taking into consideration the two previously struck gold with 2013’s “I Want Your Love” and 2014’s “Outside.”

For now, Swift will undoubtedly hold supporting (and subtly promoting) Harris’ music from the sidelines, which he insists she’s amazing at. In an additional interview with KISS FM’s Breakfast Show on Friday, he gushed about her support, saying, “She’s super encouraging, and she sort of gets her vibe going with other individuals as nicely, you know. She can even cheer up my manager, which is an unbelievable feat! So it is great possessing her about.” Awwww.


Brazilian Singer Seu Jorge: On Music, Race, And Luck Versus Hard Operate

Seu Jorge

Seu Jorge Frazer Harrison/Getty Photos hide caption

toggle caption Frazer Harrison/Getty Pictures

Seu Jorge is an internationally acclaimed Brazilian actor and musician. As he wraps up a series of New York City performances and prepares to go off to Europe, he sat down with Jasmine Garsd, from NPR’s Alt.Latino.

There is this scene in the seminal Brazilian film City of God: It really is evening time, and pulsating strobe lights illuminate glistening bodies and shiny Afros swaying to the sounds of disco and funk. We’re at a huge block celebration in a favela, 1 of Brazil’s notorious ghettos.

In 1 corner, Mané Galinha, a handsome busdriver played by singer Seu Jorge (his character is known as Knockout Ned in the film’s English subtitles), is playfully dancing with his girlfriend to the tune of “Kung Fu Fighting.” It’s a scene that may well go unnoticed amidst so a lot of spectacular moments in the film. But it’s a fairly informative snapshot of race and culture in 1970’s Brazil.

Seu Jorge says disco and funk had a large influence on him developing up at that time. In reality, he says funk changed the way black Brazil saw itself. “There’s a lot of African soul in Brazil. When James Brown arrived, it is like a door opened for us.”

The funk was heating up in Rio de Janeiro, but so was the violence. At the dance in City Of God, the gorgeous girlfriend catches the eye of a young drug dealer. A couple of nights later, he rapes her and goes after her boyfriend, Jorge’s character.


Seu Jorge says he recognized himself in the character of Mané Galinha. Just before he became an internationally acclaimed Brazilian music star, he was a kid growing up in a quite comparable favela to the 1 portrayed in the film, proper outside Rio de Janeiro. His personal brother was killed in the ongoing violent confrontations with the police. “I lost my brother . . . My life was really difficult,” Seu Jorge reminisces. “I didn’t have a job more than there . . . Education was extremely, extremely poor. And it is nevertheless like that. The only point that is different is my decision . . . I believe I was a item of luck and difficult operate.”


Even though the character of Mané Galinha turned to a life of revenge and crime, Seu Jorge chose music and acting. It nonetheless expense him dearly — by his early 20’s, he was homeless. But he was also acting a university play residence, and playing at a bar in northern Rio. And playing in bands — his big break came when rapper Marcelo D2 invited him to play drums with the band Planet Hemp. “Marcelo D2, he saved my life,” says Seu Jorge.


Seu Jorge became a household name in Brazil in 2001 with the sophomore album Samba Esporte Fino. It also his first international album, in which he mixed the funk he’d fallen in really like with as a kid, and conventional Brazilian sounds.


But then, in 2004, came the role that pushed him into cult-classic status around the planet. “One particular day I am at my house, and an individual calls me. I grab the phone, but I never comprehend any words the guy says to me.”

He handed the phone to his wife. It was director Wes Anderson. He was putting together this film, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. He wanted to know if Seu Jorge could do covers of a handful of David Bowie songs. Seu Jorge stated yes, and moved to Italy to start off working on the film. He plays Pele Dos Santos, a musician who travels with the oceanographic expedition.

He changed the lyrics in translation: “There are so many factors of the heart that I can not understand,” he laments. The covers are filled with saudade, a kind of Brazilian melancholy and homesickness. Seu Jorge says the hostility towards black men he was confronted with in Italy gave his perform its sad tone.


“I suffered a lot of racists in Italy,” he says. “When I would go out, and go to my home…I’d require to go to the pharmacy, purchase stuff for my youngsters…get a cab. Standard things. And folks do not look at me like a good individual, simply because I’m black.”

The result, nevertheless, was beautiful. Bowie himself mentioned, “Had Seu Jorge not recorded my songs in Portuguese, I would by no means have heard this new level of beauty which he has imbued them with.”


Numerous years later, Seu Jorge is no longer melancholy. He says he’s looking forward instead. “I am trying to adhere to the very same actions as these beautiful icons, Brazilian icons, Caetano [Veloso], Gilberto Gil and Milton Nascimento’s careers.”

He’s properly on his way.

You can hear the entire interview with Seu Jorge this Thursday on Alt.Latino.

Arts &amp Life : NPR

Rashida Jones Created A Music Video About How Much She Misses The ’90s

&#13 &#13 &#13 &#13 &#13 &#13

As far as I can inform (and primarily based on her IMDb page), Rashida Jones has never appeared on “Portlandia,” a show devoted to, among those other individuals, maintaining the dream of the ’90s alive. But maybe she ought to contemplate a guest spot since, like, she’s all about that decade, man. She misses it. Hard.

We know this due to the fact Rashida lately popped up on a song called “Flip And Rewind” by Boss Choice, the moniker of her music-making nephew Sunny Levine. The video for the track premiered just a handful of days ago and it characteristics Rashida sporting a wide variety of ’90s-inspired appears, which includes the ever-classic backwards Kangol cap…

Rashida Jones/Will Mccormack

…the scrunchie-assisted curls with large hoop earrings…

Rashida Jones/Will Mccormack

…and the badass bandana badass (just to name a couple of).

Rashida Jones/Will Mccormack

Rashida co-directed the video with her writing partner Will McCormack, with whom she’s operating on a script for “Toy Story four,” by the way, which is truly cool.

Embedded from

But can we take a second to talk about how Wonderful her vocals on this song are? I mean, like, Rashida guidelines right here. Who knew she could sing this nicely? Except for Jimmy Fallon, and fairly significantly everybody else who watched the two of them sing jubilantly about the holidays on “The Tonight Show.”

Rashida and Sunny just did a extremely playful, really insightful Q&ampA for Rolling Stone that you must study appropriate now. And then possibly we can all go play “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” or watch “Clueless” or some thing. Meet back right here in an hour, OK? #go90s