Simon Green. The name may sound quite obscure. Probably not as well known. But the name Bonobo definitely makes heads turn.
“People don’t necessarily know who I am,” he tells me. Standing silently in a corner with a glass in hand, a cloth bag around his shoulder, he is one most would miss. After the gratifying set that he played at his showcase “Outlier” hosted by DGTL, I was super curious to go and meet the man behind all that marvelous music.
One of the most widely played artists across the globe and known well for his unique style of experimental electronica, Bonobo is an artist whose work speaks the loudest for him. Starting off with a more downtempo electronica sound almost a decade back, Simon grew up listening to neo-hardcore music. Of course, we can see the influence rubbing in quite clearly into his earlier work. As time passed, we saw him infusing more jazz and upbeat tempos into his work. Having a discography spanning across six diverse albums, multiple EP’s and remixes, no two tracks give off a similar vibe. Each track is distinct and unique in its own beautiful way but blends together beautifully, as if they have this magical connect and understanding amongst themselves.
We were lucky enough to catch “Outlier” this year. DGTL, known for hosting some of the most exclusive showcases of the lot tied up with this icon to host a night. Best described as a premier showcase curated by the man himself, “Outlier” is an international event series with some of the most distinct line-ups around. Every show till date has showcased some of the most unique acts in the scene and no two events have been even remotely similar.
This one had Bonobo headlining, of course. Supporting him were DJ Koze, Panorama resident Mano Le Tough, Tom Trago, Moxie, and of course Ame and Kink amongst the rest. With a lineup curated this tastefully, this one was bound to sell out and the tickets went off the racks in barely any time.
Speaking of the man himself, he personally doesn’t like categorizing his music and bracketing it under one specific form. Despite coming from a family of musicians, Simon never really took the traditional route when it came to his music. Not really tempted to delve towards the more technical and academical style, he preferred sitting by the piano and finding melodies.
His first two albums “Animal Magic” and “Dial M for Monkey” were more instrumental and downtempo in form.
The third album “Days to Come” saw him diversify towards more of organic jazz sounds and also saw him incorporate vocals and live instruments. The reason behind this arises from the fact that while most of the venues that he played at Europe were more into the club scene, his bookings is the USA were mostly at live venues where people would watch him work his magic. Initially bewildered, he later got accustomed to it and thought of going ahead and adding more live instruments to his set. Almost equivalent to a live band on the whole.
His latest album “Migration” was almost like an amalgamation of all his experiences and influences chalked out in the form of an album. Green has placed the unstable, the heartbreaking, the often beautiful migratory life at the core of how he understands humanity, and hence how he understands music.
Migration is to him, “ the study of people and spaces,” he expands, “It’s interesting how one person will take an influence from one part of the world and move with that influence and effect another part of the world. Over time, the identities of places evolve.” It’s also true that the person will be changed. Green’s newest work is itself a statement of this change and growth.
Over the years, we’ve seen Bonobo grow and evolve as an artist and a producer. His style is rare and it’s one that only a few other electronic artists can pull off. His music steers toward the ethereal, often borrowing soundscapes from far-off cultures. His music is catchy, but also profound. The worldly and organic feel has a lot to do with Green’s travels and a personal penchant for recording real-life sounds that happen to catch his ear when he’s away from his studio. But it takes real talent to channel all of this and have it incorporated in one’s music. If you ever do get the chance, do catch this man play a set or two live. You’ll come back having the same notion as us.