Inbox: Bonobo

Publish date:

UK producer and multi-instrumentalist Simon Green has been making tunes under the name Bonobo for about a decade now. In that time, he's been called everything from "downtempo" to "jazzy" to "trip-hop," but regardless of what title his music is given, Bonobo has remained a consistently interesting DJ/producer with a keen ear for smooth and soulful sonics. We got a hold of Green after the release of his latest Ninja Tune album, Black Sands, for this special Inbox Q&A. He told us about what he's been listening to as of late, what he hopes to bring to a desert island with, and what changes he'd make to his first album.

What are some of your favorite bands and producers right now?
Right now, some of the new cats from London: Bullion, Floating Points, Joy Orbison. All good.

What's the most hospitable venue you've ever played?
Probably Yellow in Tokyo. That's some next-level hospitality and probably my favorite club in the world. It closed last year which is very sad.

What's the weirdest band/DJ/producer that has opened for you at a live show?
That would probably be Cradle of Filth! Not an opener but next on the bill at a festival in Bulgaria. We had to play to 20,000 bored goths in 90-degree sun. There was a lot of eyeliner melting down faces that day.

Who was your childhood hero?
Sloth from The Goonies.

If you didn't go by the name Bonobo, what else would you want to call yourself?
It would have to be something more interesting than Simon Green. Maybe Piano Reeves. [Sorry, Simon. Already taken.]

You're about to start on a new track. What do you do that morning to prepare?
I leave the house and do a circuit of the block. Sounds weird, but when I get back home it feels like I've arrived for work. And coffee... lots of coffee.

Describe your studio.
It's in my house in East London at the top in an attic conversion. The kind of sounds in my neighborhood vary from car alarms, status dogs, sirens, chainsaws, and shouting. It's still home, though.

What's the best thing to do on a mellow Sunday night where you live?
My neighborhood has a big Turkish community. The best thing to do is Okasebi BBQ. A place called Mangal. Seriously good Turkish meat fest.

Where were the photos for the cover of Black Sands taken? Was the video for "Eyes Down" shot in the same area?
They're different areas, but both in the UK. I like the idea of remote locations with signs of human endeavor. The last outpost. We put the location of the album cover on Google maps. There's three angles all facing each other forming a triangle.

Who made the crazy outfit the girl is wearing in that video?
I wasn't involved in the video for "Eyes Down" too much. The girl is a Russian ballerina, which is pretty cool.

What's the worst clothing purchase you've ever made?
Everything from the age of 15 to 19, including haircuts. I was a grubby little skater in my youth.

Give us one word that best defines your music.

Other than being a professional musician/producer, what is your dream job?
My drummer once had a job as a potato inspector. Sounds like fun.

If you could be on any record label from any time period, what would it be?
I guess Blue Note from '68-'74.

Name some of the core inspirations for the music on Black Sands.
Apart from the aforementioned London cats, there's all kinds of stuff. I've been getting into a lot of Krautrock. Things like Neu! and Can. Also some Scandinavian jazz, new and old.

If you had to listen to one song on repeat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Curtis Mayfield's "Right On for the Darkness"

You're secluded on a desert island. Name four albums and four books that you take with you.
Albums: Marc Moulin's Placebo Sessions: 1971-1974, My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, Jim O'Rourke's Eureka, A Tribe Called Quest's Midnight Marauders.
Books: Paul Auster's The New York Trilogy, Will Self's The Book of Dave, JG Ballard's Empire of the Sun, and Hanif Kureishi's The Buddha of Suburbia.

If you could go back and rework your first album, Animal Magic, before it was released, what songs would you change?
I'm really proud of that record, and I stand by it to this day. However, if I could change one track it would be "Gypsy." I had another track from that era which never saw the light of day because at the time I was hung up about using obvious drum breaks. That one should've been on there instead.