After Smugg left we needed someone who could fill a role that
was complex and difficult in ways that differ from the rest
of ours. Our roles are based quite a lot on technique. His
is based more on taste. He has started instigating a few ideas
now but mostly it’s about him being incredibly flexible
and layering focal points on the bedrock of what the rest
of us are doing. It’s easy for me in a way because if
I have an idea I know will work I’ll just pound it out
and everyone will support me but Simon is usually in the position
of blending in and tuning samples to what he’s presented
with. This is much harder than it sounds.
4 years old and little Simon is having real problems getting
He used to throw away his pillow, pull back the bottom sheet
and lay awake for hours listening to the sound of himself
banging out little rhythms on his cowboy and Indian motif
mattress and his brothers headboard the relief of which was
not too dissimilar to a cactus.
His father was an obsessive listener to classical music.
Whilst playing a record those in the room with him were banned
from speaking or moving.
Reading was out of the question.
The only point of focus being the music itself and Simon's
father stood in the centre of the room, one hand held aloft
and his face contorted in concentration and deep appreciation.
10 years old and Simon's discovered multitracking.
Though there was a piano in the house he used to tinkle on
now and again, most of his time was spent with two shoebox
shaped Phillips tape recorders. He'd record himself bashing
away on a milk bottle on one tape machine, then press play
and record that and a live take of himself hitting some bricks
and stuff on the other.
Synthesisers suddenly appeared in Simon's world when a mate
of a mate at school lent him an old synth called an Oscar
which had step time sequencing and he spent hours programming
the keyboard riff from No More Heroes by The Stranglers.
A couple of years on and Simon is playing percussion.
Whilst out at a club called The Fez, Patrick Forge is playing
and all Simon's mates are saying "go and tell Patrick
Forge you're a percussionist" so eventually Simon goes
up and says "hi Patrick I'm a percussionist".
A couple of days later and Simon bumps into Patrick Forge
in Reckless Records.
"Hi Simon I was talking to Giles Peterson the other day
and he said he needed a percussionist and so I put your name
up - I hope you don't mind"
"Er no, no not at all"
"They're called K Creative".
No one had heard him play a note yet.
After that his many studio and live collaborations took him
everywhere from the High Street of main stream pop to his
natural habitat in the murky backstreets of the electro underground.
Once he was asked to do an Art of Noise support DJ gig.
Simon thought the decks to be put at the back of the stage
and it was just a low key party warm up kind of thing...
walking out in front of a packed house at the Shepherds Bush
Empire, it was so silent you could hear someone rustling their
toffees in row M
and the decks were centre stage
under a spotlight.
The first thing he did was knock over his beer whilst scrabbling
in his record box for his first tune.
The best thing about this gig was the promoters had thought
he was an act and so had given him two dressing rooms.
Two dressing rooms. Two lots of beer.
As you are probably aware Simon has recorded a substantial
amount of material under the name Palmskin Productions.