Having established a reputation for himself as a talented producer of primarily bass-heavy House, Simon Neale aka Shadow Child has just released his debut album ‘Collected’ on self-owned label ‘Food’. However, many will be surprised to learn that the name of Simon Neale was known long ago in the Industry as a producer of Electro House under a different pseudonym. In light of his new debut, I caught up with the producer who after returning to his routes of dark, rhythmic House, has made one of the fastest rises to respected success known in the Electronic scene.
The decision to change moniker was an unusual one. Shadow Child describes to me his musical frustration of the past and desire to break away from Industry trends. “I was musically bored.. challenged but bored trying to make stuff I wasn’t feeling. I couldn’t get into where the Electro House sound went. For me it wasn’t even Electro to start with, it just evolved further from that to the EDM sound.” You can’t help but respect his decision to make such a drastic change in style for the sake of musical integrity. “It moved too far from what I love” he explains “towards heavily over-produced music that I didn’t want to play, let alone make. It’s tricky as the business side of it was wide open but, I need to be able to believe in what I’m doing musically.” The result was a change to the Star-Wars inspired pseudonym of Shadow Child.
Ironically it was this move away the over saturated market of “EDM trends” that allowed Shadow Child such fast success, the notorious ‘String Thing’ from his initial release on Dirtybird catapulted him onto the him onto the radars of Claude Von Stroke and Eats Everything back in early 2012. He mentions to me how House music is “truly back” and his excitement for explaining the complexities behind producing the simple yet profound tracks on ‘Collected’ is contagious. There is no doubt that enthusiasm translates directly into an infectious album with tracks that embody the soul of Dance Music today such as ’23 feat. Tymer’ that was recently featured on Grand Theft Auto V.
He describes how collaboration with Zimbawean singer Takura on opening track ‘Friday’ fell effortlessly into place. “I had the instrumental done (inspired by a 90’s track, called ‘Cascades of Colour’), and we just sent it to him and he delivered it the next day. It came about so easily, they don’t always work like that but this one did.”
In fact, only a couple of the vocals featured on the album were recorded with Shadow Child present himself, which is hard to imagine considering the unifying sense to the album on both Shadow Child tracks and remixes of existing releases. “My remix of Lianne La Havas was actually the hardest track to produce. It went from a major to minor key and wasn’t flowing right. After days of scratching my head, a simple hi-string sound made it all come together. So simple in the end”.
Although primarily classing himself as a producer over a DJ, Shadow Child’s recent slot on tastemaker station Rinse FM has allowed him to explore other approaches to his musical engagement. “The Rinse show enables me to showcase all the new music I might not play out.. I do play some of the same stuff but ultimately it’s my little piece of time each week to shout about other stuff I love too.” He expands, “there are so many great tracks I get sent, and the music is so fresh each week. 9 times out of 10 Rinse is the first place I’ve played the music you hear each week. It’s a total buzz”.
However, his heart will always be first and foremost in producing and creating new sounds that are pushing boundaries of Electronic music. “I love DJing but I make tunes and that’s all I want to do really. Every gig is special though at the moment and my love for playing out is back but I’m moving into new areas of music already and in the future there may be less touring and more studio. I have to stay true to my ambitions in music and lots of them are outside of making house records”.
I ask him if he would ever consider adopting another pseudonym with the possibility of switching musical style in the future, to which he answers “no idea.. I guess I can be unpredictable in that sense!” It really does seem that he moves in the shadows.
You can catch Shadow Child dropping some bass-heavy beats at the Circus Records showcase alongside other House hard-hitters Yousef, Loco Dice and Apollonia on the 26th December at East Village Arts Club Liverpool. Otherwise, check out Circus Records’s Facebook page for similar events.