Since January, I've been playing Migration non-stop. It keeps revealing wonderful glimmers and flickers of something new with each listen. From the production to the lyrics to the sultry voices singing, Migration is a mature work that is sophisticated and simple in the same breath.
Now, Bonobo's no new-comer. He has been a major Ninja Tune regular since his debut album in 2000. He's grown, he's mastered and he's determined to move forward. Bonobo is an artist who is best listened to, it's honestly the only way to understand him. Bonobo is his music and vice versa.
Before you move on into our interview with Simon Green, the man behind the Bonobo moniker, take a moment to fully and deeply listen to Migration. It is moving and inspirational, and it's going to make your day. I could be biased, maybe I've fallen too deeply in love with it, but there's always a chance maybe you could too.
Without further adieu, here's our interview with Bonobo where we discuss his latest album, supporting tour, Coachella performance, and how he tries to make his music as human as possible.
It's a big year for Bonobo! How go all things you?
All good, it's been good. I'm just having a little break between the European and U.S. tours at the moment. We just finished the European leg, which was crazy, really good. It's like we've stepped up to another level this time around. We've got a visual aspect. We're breaking it all in and the most of it is yet to come in terms of touring. I'm bracing for the storm, more or less.
Your latest album Migration is a critical success, both for me and many others. How do you feel the album has been received so far?
It feels very good. It's kind of nuts, and maybe this is just how the world is in 2017. I feel there's just a lot more of a response online. Social media - there's just more of it than there ever used to be. It's hard to filter everything, and you have to keep up, so it feels really good. Everything is so highly positive, which has been great.
It's been a few months now since the release. How has it been translating the album to a live context and touring it?
It's been interesting because these records are made in a very solitary environment. The band I'm playing with now didn't hear the record until a few days before it was released. So, it's like trying to figure it out, and I don't really worry about it until it's time to worry about it. I just try to make the best record I can and then figure out how I'm going to pull it apart and play it live after.
There's some stuff that's going to work and some stuff that isn't. Some stuff is going to turn out when we all just get into a room and start playing it. It actually ends up taking on this new life. Like "Migration", the title track which was made in Ontario. When we first hit go on that one, in the rehearsal, it came to life which is really cool. Sometimes they surprise you, sometimes things don't work as well and you have to rethink them and it's stressful. You go into a show with an idea of how you think it's going to work and then it just falls flat. You have to keep reworking things and rethinking things and turning up and trying again really. That's kind of how I'm approaching the live show and it's there now.
What can we expect from your live show at Coachella?
It's going to be slightly different because we have the festival set and we're not going to have the full production. This is the first time we're going to bringing out the vocalists on the record. We're going to be touring with Szjerdene who was on the North Borders tour. But Coachella, we're going to be bringing out a lot more of the guests on the records, for the first time ever. It's going to be pretty special.
While we're on the topic of vocalists, you have some amazing collaborators on the album. How did you go about selecting Rhye, Nick Murphy and the others?
It's all just circumstantial really. There are people that I've been hanging out with and talking to. These things come together quite naturally. It's never a cold call. It's always a friend.
There's such a depth to both the sound and substance of your music. It's profoundly moving and pensive, it seems to have a life all its own. How much of you, Simon, do you feel is imbued into your music?
I mean, everything. People have meditation, whatever they do, maybe yoga. For me, music is the thing that keeps me grounded. It's where I go to escape so that all comes across as being a personal thing that way.
Beautiful, it's therapeutic in a sense. Is there a guiding philosophy that moves the project when you're in the studio or a live environment?
I'm just trying to do the same thing I always have which is trying to create music as human as possible. Not to use any gimmicks. Not to try doing anything commercial. It's quite the opposite of trying to make music for a commercial end I guess.
True art. Along those lines, how would you simply descirbe the Bonobo sound?
People ask about what genre you fit into, how would you describe your sound. That's not for me to say really. I mean, I can't describe it.
What is one deep thought you've been having lately?
What am I going to do next? That's kind of my thing. Counting down this record and seeing where it goes next. That's the thing - what do I do now?
And before you go, remember... Don't be a fool! Catch Bonobo on his North American tour:
- 4/12/17 - Oakland, CA – Fox Theater
- 4/14/17 - Indio, CA - Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival
- 4/17/17 - Los Angeles, CA - The Theatre at the Ace Hotel
- 4/18/17 - Pomona, CA - The Glass House
- 4/21/17 - Indio, CA - Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival
- 4/24/17 - Toronto, ON - Danforth Music Hall
- 4/26/17 - Boston, MA - House of Blues
- 4/27/17 - New York, NY - Terminal 5
- 4/28/17 - New York, NY - Terminal 5
- 4/29/17 - Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory
- 5/1/17 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
- 5/2/17 - Richmond, VA - The National
- 5/3/17 - Asheville, NC - Orange Peel
- 5/5/17 - Atlanta, GA - Shaky Beats Music Festival
- 5/5-5/7/17 - Todd Mission, TX - Middlelands
- 5/11/17 - Aspen, CO - Belly Up Aspen
- 5/12/17 - Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheatre
- 5/13/17 - Lawrence, KS - Granada Theater
- 5/15/17 - Columbia, MO - The Blue Note
- 5/18/17 - Chicago, IL - Concord Music Hall
- 5/18/17 - Chicago, IL - The MID (DJ Set)
- 5/19/17 - Milwaukee, WI - Turner Hall Ballroom
- 5/21/17 - Madison, WI - Orpheum Theater
- 5/24/17 - Vancouver, BC - Commodore Ballroom
- 5/24/17 - Vancouver, BC - Celebrities Nightclub (DJ Set)
- 5/24-5/29/17 - Bradley, CA - Lightning in a Bottle
- 5/25/17 - Vancouver, BC - Commodore Ballroom
- 5/26/17 - George, WA - Sasquatch! Music Festival