Interview: Simian Mobile Disco Will Make Beats For Food

Whether it's remixing pop and indie tracks for the dance floor, producing their own infectious electronic music or DJing high-profile events, Simian Mobile Disco always aims to please. In fact, the UK duo is not unlike a restaurateur or chef, continually adjusting the details to make everything come off great. Like their 2012 releases from the same sessions, the unabashedly fun Unpatterns and a recent follow-up EP, A Form Of Change.

The longtime colleagues James Ford and Jas Shaw are far too busy to think about serving up anything but danceable tunes, but if they should ever open a restaurant, we'd check it out. In the meantime, we'll settle for catching one of their live sets (and oh what luck, they're on a North American tour right now!).

Here, Ford talks eating do's and don'ts in the DJ booth, their Delicacies label — a more techno-oriented outlet for their production, as well as an homage to what Andrew Zimmern calls "bizarre foods" — and why you'll never catching him Instagramming his main course.

What's the best meal you've ever cooked or that's been cooked for you?

We have a record label called "Delicacies," with all the tracks named after weird foods. Our manager, who is a bit of an amateur chef, decided it would be a good idea to cook up meal for the release of our single, "Gizzard." It was a French dish of fried gizzards in a sort of lentil salad. Not sure if it was the best meal ever cooked for us, but certainly one of the most interesting. You can read all about it here.

Who's another DJ or musician you've worked with who's really into food?

Almost all the DJs we know are really into food. You end up travelling all over the place and usually the people from the club will take you to an interesting restaurant, so you get exposed to all sorts of different food. I know some DJs — I'm not naming names — who choose to play in certain places because of a particularly good restaurant there; that's a step too far I think.

What's the best thing your mom cooks or cooked?

My mum makes a lot of stews, particularly in winter. They always have different ingredients and she never follows a recipe but somehow you can always tell it's her dish.

If you get hungry during a set, what kinds of food do you snack on that won't get the equipment all greasy?

We've never eaten in the booth. We just make sure we're properly well fed before hand. You don't want to be getting houmous in your CDJs.

Any favorite food cities to visit while on tour?

Probably Tokyo or Osaka. You can literally trip over great food everywhere. There's this chain of ramen places — unfortunately I don't know the name as it's in Japanese! — but they have these little booths where you are served your noodles through a hatch. You don't even see the chef, and you can't really speak to your fellow diners. Proper fast food.

Three staples in your refrigerator?

  • Pickle
  • Cheese
  • More cheese, and other varieties of pickle.

Last meal you made at home was...?

A sandwich (see above)

Do you have any quirky (or strange) dietary habits?

Jas hates milk, and cream. But loves cheese, which is essentially milk gone wrong.

First food to hit your lips in the morning/afternoon is...

After tea, it's toast.

Favorite cooking show(s) on TV

I don't watch tele, and if I did I certainly wouldn't watch a cooking show. Seriously, you are going to watch someone cook something? That's insane.

Do you have any pre-show food rituals/habits?

There's the obvious blood letting and daubing but aside from that nothing really, we just get on with it.

Food or drink requirements for shows (from your touring rider)?

An extensive cheese board and cold meat platter; ideally the region's specialities.

Have you ever ordered food to the DJ booth?

I've always thought that was a shitty thing to do. I guess if we got a chance to play for a really, really long time I might consider it, but otherwise: you can't go for 3 hours without eating, you big baby!

Any clubs actually serve really good food?

Cocoon [in Frankfurt] apparently does good food in their restaurant but our flight arrived too late to eat there.

If you're eating after 3AM, you're likely eating...?

Breakfast. As much of it as possible.

Can you send us any food photos you've taken?

People taking pictures of their dinner is something that really worries me.

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