Since they broke out onto the scene in America back in the mid '90s with their debut album, Exit Planet Dust, The Chemical Brothers have called America one of their best markets to play. The early development of raves around Orlando, Florida first brought them to the states, but now they're touring globally, still dishing out big-beat anthems that keep dance floors entranced. The recent wave of popularity that electronic music has garnered in the past year are taking them back to the top, although they seem to believe that this wave was only made popular by recent producers working with pop artists. They've been playing electronic music from the states for years now, and recently released a new album, Further, which is a must listen.
We recently caught up with Ed Simons of The Chemical Brothers to chat about their new album, the artistic direction of their sound, and the resurgence that they seem to find a bit "suspect."
Clubplanet: You’ve had a big year so far, playing festivals all over the world. Soon you’re also going to be taking the stage over at New York City’s Electric Zoo Festival. So far, what’s been this year's biggest highlight?
Ed Simons: Finishing the album and making these videos with our friends and putting all of them in our shows. We played a couple nights ago at this wicked venue in London. It was a really hot, sunny weekend; lots of people came out to see us. I suppose that was the culmination of a couple years of work, so it was a really good feeling. The album didn’t leak so we got to do what we wanted to do which was play the record to people before—you know, play it loud and play it with the visuals—before anyone else heard it. So it was a pretty good weekend. We got some festivals this weekend coming up, we’re playing in Serbia and Hungary, looking forward to going to America as well. It’s quite nice here, we haven’t really committed to a huge tour. This picking thing is what we want to do, for fun really.
Clubplanet: On your latest album, Further, you said that it’s your most psychedelic and melodic to date. What would you say inspired your artistic direction for this album?
Ed Simons: Well just working together, the two of us getting to know each other. Imagination. I think we made a big decision when we jettisoned using big guest vocalists that let more space in for us to use the styles that we've been correcting for years. It's a new way of working for us, without letting someone else finish working up on our music. Is everything generated by the two of us? You know, there are vocals on it, there things done by people that we know, and Tom singing. But it was less about working with guest vocalists and that spun out into a whole new set of musical values.
Clubplanet: You guys sort of wanted to sort of take somebody on a musical journey with the way it was set up, correct?
Ed Simons: Well what we wanted to do was be able to play it live from start to finish. It comes from our experience of playing live and DJing and putting previous albums together. But I suppose that knowledge that it was going to be—we were going to be up there on stage and it was going to go from point A to B, C, in front of a lot of people, kind of informs how it could’ve traveled along the music that we’ve written over the last couple years. We also have this film that we made with it—or, we didn’t make it, our friends made it. So it all kind of came together to be like a—I don’t really like the word “journey,” I hesitate to use it, but, you know, we wanted to go in there and make it like a kind of immersive experience, music that you would really get involved with. I think we thought that music now is pinged around on blogs and here and there, and people needed the commitment to it, and we were hoping we'd get the whole listening experience from the album, something you can really get into from the beginning to end.
Clubplanet: Now, talking about those movies, how did those come about for each track?
Ed Simons: Well, if you’ve ever seen us play live, we have a big visual backdrop. We’ve always had that from the beginning and it’s all been made pretty much by the same person, Adam Smith, who is working with his friend, Marcus Lile. It felt like, “Well, if we’re not going to collaborate with another sketch photographer, let’s have another collaboration.” We’ve always worked with Adam, but usually it’s kind of like, let’s just make some visuals for a couple tracks we’re going to play live, and it grows from there. It’s a long standing collaboration and friendship. It seemed natural to kind of make an album with him.
Clubplanet: Now, you guys are currently, like you said, jumping from country to country supporting the album. Where would you say is the best crowd to play and why?
Ed Simons: It depends on the time. In the '90s America was great for us. We had some great times there. We played at Big Bear Mountain, Coachella’s always big; that's always been a great show for us. We’ve totally had great shows all over the world. I like going to Japan a lot. We DJed on the beach near Tokyo a couple of weeks ago, that was pretty off the hook. Spain is great. Italy we go to a lot. Really it’s what you make of it, people are huddling up in Port au Prince, Serbia on Sunday, I’m told that’s a pretty big crowd, and people are really happy to see you. So you take it where you get it really.
Clubplanet: Electronic music right now is spreading a lot in the States again. Now do you find that your music has found a new following thanks to the resurgence in the popularity of the genre itself?
Ed Simons: I read about this resurgence a lot. We always go to America. One of the first gigs we ever played was in Florida. There was a huge kind of rave scene around Orlando. We’ve always read about great clubs in New York. Tons and tons of great records we’ve played over the years have come from America. So when I read about a resurgence based on David Guetta producing the Black Eyed Peas, I’m a little bit suspect about it. I know that there are some clubs that love DJs, but for me it’s different. When I go record shopping, a lot of the records I've been buying for the past 20 years have been American records. There have always been people in America making fantastic dance music, and that dance music inspired us right from the beginning.