Ahead of his set at nofitstate on 22nd February, we caught up with Yorkshire's finest, Mr Simon Baker, to talk Leeds' raving heritage, cold sweats in Mexico, nofitstate records and his prized production tool…
You were over at the BPM festival in Mexico a couple of weeks back, something that’s become a bit of a fixture for you over the last couple of years. Not a bad way to get through the January blues! How was it?
Yes, this was my 4th year. The festival has gone from strength to strength. There wasn’t so much of the style of music I am involved with a few years ago. Now it’s probably one of the best underground house and techno festivals in the world with every man and their dogs playing. Unfortunately half of BPM was ill this year. There was a shitty virus going round which seemed to hit pretty much everyone. I was sick most of the festival so didn’t have the best time this year. Hot and cold sweats on the beach is no fun at all let me tell you!
Alongside Geddes you’re now running nofitstate records- what are the plans for the label and how did you become involved in running it?
Yes, we decided at the end of last year to take the nofitstate name and turn it into label. I don’t want to disclose too much info at this stage but we have some exciting producers on board so far. Watch this space!
You’re track with Robert James – Get Up High has just been released on the Hot Waves compilation, how did you come to work together, and have the two of you got any future collaborations ahead?
We have done a couple of things together. A track on Saved and this one, and we have an EP due on Culpritt at some point this year too, we will probably do some more things as we seem to work well together in the studio.
Before you began playing and making records, who were the DJs, musicians and producers who most inspired you to take it up?
I am pretty old school I suppose. I got started on house when I was young, so it was the likes of Masters At Work, Todd Terry, Kerry Chandler, Marshall Jefferson and those U,S boys were who I was looking up to back then. I was also big into hip house too, and the sounds coming form the Hacienda in Manchester. Tom Wainwright, Mike Pickering etc. Oh and Back2Basics. Ralph Lawson, Huggy, Chez Damier, Stacey Pullen…. Lots of them! It was actually a double vinyl album I bought called Best of House Vol 3 (circa 1990) that made me fall in love with it all though. That purchase changed my life there and then little did I know. I still have it.
Growing up in Yorkshire, what were the clubs and parties that really got you into the culture of house music and what do you make of the city’s current scene in 2013?
I grew up in York, nearby but moved to Leeds when I was about 23. I use to travel over to Leeds all the time though for Basics and Up Ya Ronson and The Orbit, amongst others. I would head further afield to the Hacienda in Manchester. They were my roots. If it hadn’t have been for Leeds I definitely wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now. The house music scene is so strong there. Always has been and still is. It’s a lot to do with Ralph Lawson and Dave Beer who have been pushing it from before a lot of the present day clubbers were even born! The city has a rich history in house and techno music.
How did you initially become involved with Ralph Lawson and the 2020 vision imprint?
It was my local label so kind of made sense to release with them and also to put my album with them. They were the first label to sign me. I had been following the label for many years prior to being signed. It’s definitely close to my heart. I am hoping nofitstate will be my home label.
From your initial release ‘The Liptrick’ back in 2004, how has your production setup and approach to making music changed (if at all)?
Funnily enough I often still use the same ideas machine I used back then. I have added lots more kit, but many of my initial ideas are still done with my Yamaha RS 7000.I know it like the back of my hand. I will usually get a basic loops going then put it all onto the computer and use other bits of hardware, synths and software to develop it into a full track.
Your debut album released in 2011, Traces, felt like an album ‘proper‘ with enough variation between the tracks to allow it to work as a piece, rather than just feel like a selection of singles, as is often the case these days. Will you be putting out another LP in the future, and do you think that, more generally, the LP format has a future itself?
The album was something I had been wanting to do for a long time. It was a real blood sweat and tears project. Took me well over a year to write and decide on the final tracks. I am glad you appreciated it, I put a lot of effort into it. Because of that I don’t think I will do another for a while, but I would like to at some point for sure. Was thinking maybe under a different moniker. I would quite like to get a live thing going too. Every day is different for me in the studio. Some days are techno, and some days are super deep. So I’ll see what comes out over the coming months.
Finally, what’s the plan for 2013, what is going to be your main focus this year?
I have various projects for this year including the new label. Other than the new label nofitstate I have had a few tracks signed by Sasha’s label Last Night On Earth, so will see where that all takes me. A possible collaboration with Sasha has been talked about also, Then something in the pipeline with Lee Curtiss (a Lee and Friends project) possibly another collab with Jamie Jones, and then working a solo for various labels. I have a few things fluttering around at the moment…. So…. yeh….watch this space!