Best of British – An interview with Simon Baker

Most people that put out their debut single almost a decade ago have got round to a full-length release before now. But then not many producers can claim to have matured to the stage necessary to truly create an accomplished album.

If you haven’t heard of Simon Baker already then chances are you cannot read, see, or hear. After all, it’s this particular Briton that was responsible for a Playhouse track called Plastik, securing the number four spot on Resident Advisor’s prestigious Single of the Year 2007 in the process. And in between then and now there have been plenty more worth owning too (not least that mainroom filling remix of Slam’s Bell Clap Dance on Radioslave’s Rekids).

Just after Spring sprung in 2011 we were finally treated to his first LP, some eight years in the making. Dropping on the legendary Yorkshire label 2020 Vision, Traces reveals an enviable attention to detail, which is apparent across the entire package. Suffice to say plenty of people with purchasing power agreed, given the response from both public and press when the eleven-track-strong showcase finally arrived.

On top of the staggering amount of time spent in studios Baker also works hard in DJ booths the scene over, making him a difficult man to tie down right now. In a world of modern technologies though there are few reasons for anyone to be completely out of reach, but even so we were delighted when the Leeds lad done good offered some words of wisdom via email. We typed and waited; now here’s his response.

P&S: How come it has taken you so long to release a full-length album?

SB: “I do things when they feel right naturally. I feel I have the experience now to put an album together that isn’t just straight club tracks. I wanted it to represent me and my years in this music scene, and show my more musical side. Hopefully this shows in the direction I have taken in the album.”

Will the next take quite so long?

Ha! No I don’t think so, I am on one now. It’s been a long journey with number one album, and I need to think about something else for the time being. Album number two I will start thinking about later, but not too much later!

What are your thoughts on the final version? Any lasting niggles or unfulfilled wishes from the production process?

You know what, no, nothing, I am very happy with how it turned out. I mean, with all that time it took me to complete, if I had put something in there I regretted I think that would have been pretty crazy. I slept on this album for enough time to know it was right.

You’ve been featured on labels like Playhouse, Get Physical and Cocoon, have any been particularly instrumental in the Simon Baker we see today?

All these labels were instrumental. My sound has definitely matured over the years. I was playing more harder techy stuff back then, I still love it, but I much prefer the deeper sound of today, though I get bored quite easily and like to vary things to keep them interesting so who knows what might pop up in the future.

After a decade on the scene, do you think producers are rushing to success too fast, with EPs, albums and singles often arriving in quick succession?

Yeah definitely, but the problem is they are often leaving the scene just as fast. There are so many kids in their bedrooms making music now; you have to have something a little extra to lift you above the rest these days. The competition out there is raw! I was glad I started at a time when vinyl still ruled the day, it taught me a lot about the industry, and not to just throw anything out there so your name might be seen. Hence why I have taken so long with the album I guess.”

Domestically, do you think the four four scene in Britain is stronger, or weaker than when you first put needle to record?

Well, when I bought my first decks it was the days of rave… It was huge, I was going to places like The Orbit in Morley and The Hacienda in Manchester (showing my age now). I think the club scene in the UK is strong at the moment though. It’s in a good place, not too commercial not too underground, I like it where it is right now.

In an age of Ableton and Serato, do you think the art of DJing is being lost, or altered?

It all depends what you do with your kit I suppose. If you are using it to mix records for you, with beat matching software and two decks, then yes, I do believe the art of DJing is well lost. If you are doing a Hawtin type affair incorporating various components into the set then no, that’s very much forward thinking art. Personally, I am happy with a DJ on two or three decks and a mixer- I like to the hear the music properly. Simple Simon I suppose!

Skip forward five years, what would you like to see yourself doing?

Five years isn’t too long away really. Hopefully I’ll still be doing what I love, but I am hoping to have put out a couple more albums by then, I also hope to collaborate with some other interesting artists, not even necessarily house music based. I would quite like to work with bands at some point. I think I can see myself still travelling around the place though. That seems to suit me. I’ll be a happy man if that’s all happening.

Finally, forthcoming plans for 2011?

I am back in the studio making some EPs for labels I haven’t been able to work with recently due to album commitments. I am also looking at some collaborations this year, with Glimpse and Debukas, whose vocals I used on my album. I might also look at a live act. Other than music, I have decided its time to move on from Leeds, where I have been for the past 10 years, so there is lots to be going on with.”


No Pressure, the latest 12″ to be taken from Traces, is available on 2020 Vision now, with remixes from Art Department. Catch Simon Baker in London on July 2nd at SPL with Dennis Ferrer.