Simbad Interview

The mighty Simbad returns to Freerange Records with his ‘Nuphoria EP’ (check out our Ear To The Ground feature to listen). As we have come to expect from this prolific DJ and producer, the music is full of heart and soul, and inspired by his time in his chosen base of South Africa. DJ, producer, musician. Simbad is a true supporter of the scene. On the week of the release, we get the chance to put a few questions this remarkable and humble individual.

LHM – It’s great to talk to you Simbad, it’s been a while. Are you still based out in South Africa? 

Simbad – Hey guys, thank you for reaching out! Yes, I am. I’ve been based in Cape Town since 2019.

LHM – What is your history with SA, what drew you there?

Simbad – Like pretty much every time winter hits Europe, I go on tour in the south hemisphere of the planet and spend time on that side, and South Africa has been one of my destinations since 2009. 

I released a single called ‘Come Join In’ on DFCTD in 2008 featuring South African singer Brian Temba on vocals and have been going there regularly ever since to play, record and work with various artists. 

It seems that they know my songs since day one here. When I went there to play and stay in SA for few months in November 2019, I got stuck basically. But I couldn’t be more grateful! 

LHM – What is it you love about where you are and what do you love about its culture?

Simbad – Music is what makes me travel and explore the World, I must say that the African continent has a special place in my heart. 

And obviously South African culture is very deep, not only through its people’s diversity and extremely rich heritage, but also through their knowledge of music history from all over.

The traumatic times of Apartheid – which had songs or certain records banned – made music the medium healer so to speak. That’s how I see it anyway.

Here in South Africa, people from all ages know their songs, listen to music everywhere and all of the time. Musicians here play jazz, soul, boogie, or house music like real music lovers do; you know? 

So much music they’ve made decades ago hasn’t still been acknowledged because it wasn’t allowed to travel outside the borders for too long. Adding part of their traditional influences to create profound styles like Maskandi, Bubblegum (also using drum machines) in the 80’s, Kwaito in the 90’s to Gqom or Amapiano in the last few years. The log drum bass sound of Amapiano is the new 808 bass for this generation! New sounds always seem to emerge on that side. Deep house is like pop music here.

LHM – Do you miss London at all? 

Simbad – Well, I get to see more sunlight than before lol. But yes, I miss my friends and especially my music peeps, although I believe I’m done living in big cities to be honest ha!  

Being close to the ocean and the mountains of the Western Cape, I live a different pace now. And I still get to play out and do my nights, like the Rhythm Heritage monthly vinyl party or the Jazz & Vibes one.

Is it conscious thought for you to always be evolving the sounds that make and to what do you attribute this constantly evolution in sound?

I don’t really think about these things to be honest. I think that naturally I am influenced by what is happening around me, sonically or culturally. I try to remain free in whatever I feel like creating and I don’t care about how the outcome will be perceived you know. I just haven’t got the time lol.

Most of what I do will never be released anyway. But I guess I still remain a student of the sonics. Always keen to learn more and get better at my craft. And actually, being surrounded by so many talents here is very humbling. So yeah, maybe subconsciously …

LHM – What different projects do you have going on at the minute?

Simbad – Too many lol. 

I still have my East African Diaries album to be released soon featuring singers and musicians from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania that I’ve recorded in these countries 5/6 years ago. Hopefully a live quartet album of new compositions of mine on saxophone – which is more on a spiritual jazz tip for next year.  A few EPs and remixes to come as always. Maybe more tunes with my brother Fred P with whom we released an album earlier this year (even though it was a vinyl release only).

I’ve became a professional mastering engineer since a few years – thanks to my mentor Martin Iveson aka Atjazz who really encouraged me to do it – so there’s always work, digitally or on vinyl. Just taking it day by day ☺

LHM – Back on Freerange with the ‘Nuphoria’ EP. So unbelievably uplifting and full of the feel-good factor. Was it your intention to lift spirits with these tracks or did it just happen that way? 

Simbad – So, because I have so much unreleased music and make some on a regular basis, I sent a bunch of tracks to Jimpster like I do regularly, and he picked the ones he wanted for the EP. I don’t remember too much about Nuphoria except that Laurent Garnier had it before anyone else and had been playing it out a lot. It was done during or before the ‘plandemic’ as I recall. Like the one called ‘Dream’ with my friend Sanele Blaai (singer & songwriter that we will soon hear more of) recorded in my Cape Town crib during lockdown with a microphone I built from parts of an old Sanyo speaker. Oh, and as for ‘Wake Up’ – also done during lockdown – we were speaking with man like Frederick who sent me a dope drum groove then I added some keys and bass and tweaked but we kinda left it pretty raw. 

LHM – When you are not in the studio, or working, how do like to spend your time?

Simbad – Record digging, practicing my instruments. Swimming in the ocean, cooking for my loved ones and exploring new places in great company. And dreaming…

LHM – We thank you for your time and for this beauty of an EP. We hope we see you in London again some time.