With a life-time in music, Ian Simmonds (producer and dj) drops another sterling addition to his burgeoning discography with the King ep. It is an afro-futuristic sonic journey bringing traditional Afrocentric sounds colliding with Ian Simmond’s acid jazz energy to stunning effect. Skilfully balancing the hypnotic vocals of the Ekonda Women from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ian Simmonds weaves an addictive journey. In it the Ekonda Women rightfully take centre stage in this five track ep twenty years in the making. #itchysilk had some brief time with Ian Simmonds to talk about this latest project.
You moved a lot as a youngster, how has that impacted on what you produce and indeed want from the music you make and like?
As I get older it seems more relevant. Not just for music but my photography, painting, and writing. Childhood shapes the person-right? So, I have a lot of shapes to play with, colours, smells, faces, sounds and more. All bullets for my choice of weapon.
Tell us about your relationship with electronica and how you feel it has changed as a genre to your own introduction to the genre?
I started djing in the mid 80’s-developing ideas with friends. At the time, we used whatever we could, grabbing studio time and working with others of a like mind. This approach eventually morphed into The Sandals in the early 90’s. Now you can do all that through technology enough said.
Wikipedia can be the font of all that is incorrect, but we had to start somewhere. Tell us a bit about your musical journey (the abridged version of course).
Yes, do not believe a word, apart from coming up at the time of the acid house scene. That is the only connection. At that time, I was exploring esoteric film, music, free jazz, and blues of the highest calibre. At the same time, I was trying to develop a modern sound using the techniques of the times; Akai mono samplers, half inch tape, Atari 1040st with 16mb of memory and so on. It was always about what interested me regardless of the genre; hip-hop, techno, r n b just whatever.
We further read you moved to Germany-why did you move and how did it impact the music you now produce?
I moved to East Germany in 2005 to work with the label Music Krause and to work on my live project at that time WISEINTIME. The Ekonda project King has been twenty years in the making (if we are correct) tell us a bit about your initial meetings with Vincent Kenis about creating this project? I met Vincent through Crammed Discs in 1997. He was the mastering engineer for all my Juryman releases. Vincent sent these voices that he had recorded in Kinshasa and I fell in love with the feeling of onomatopoeia from the women. Pure joy and rhythm. A style probably thousands of years old and recorded in their forest home.
The Ekonda project King features a series of reworks-what made these reworks effective in complimenting the project-loving the Ebi Soda rework?
Only the acapellas were given to remix, so in itself it was a major effort for all involved. A lot of love-remixing is hard. I feel it is a strong package. I worked with Rich Thair in The Sandals and met Rocca twenty-five years ago, so the connection was always there.
You seem to have a thing for fusions of cultures Last States Of Nature 1999 for example. Ekonda is no exception. How conscious of you were you in allowing the vocals of the Ekonda women take the main stage.
Easy when you have great voices to play with. Let them breathe, do not clutter, and forget ego. Good is good, the rest is the devil’s work.
Has it been possible for the King project to have a beneficial impact for the Ekonda women? As we know DRC has been ravaged by war and instability while external forces make power moves for the country’s rich natural resources?
Yes, this is true of the European influence in Africa for hundreds of years. Raped and corrupted by big business, now with virus et al. It is a tragedy for sure. They get half the royalties through Vincent, but everyone will lose a lot this year. Some more than others. I believe this is a very positive project and I have treated all with the utmost respect. I hope it is felt.
What is next in the pipeline in terms of music, dj sets or more?
Since solitary was introduced, I have created nine new songs. A collaboration with a Japanese bamboo flute master, several cover versions, two or three co-writes with a fantastic piano player, and volunteering for a local support group helping the vulnerable. As for live and dj sets it is in God’s hands and by the way I have a new grandson.