Simon Sinfield: Mission Bound

R.A. Bakr

When asked to interview Simon and write this article, I was actually listening to his remix of Tears For Fears ‘Pale Shelter’ – it didn’t immediately register (in my mind) that my playlists include many of his released tracks. He has worked on remixes by some of the greatest names in music history: Duran Duran, Tears For Fears, Todd Terry, Robert Miles – to name only a few. There is no dispute that UK music producer and writer Simon Sinfield continues to bring his love and gift of music into every track.

Simon’s musical beginnings were infused at an early age knowing he wanted to be a music producer. “I’m lucky to have had a long and varied career in the music industry”, he shared with me. Further adding, “I was brought up listening to many different styles of music and that passion has continued to this day”. Thereby, listening to these several different musical styles, Simon spent countless hours figuring out “how each piece of music was composed and produced”, he explained. From programming synth sounds to learning mechanics of the studio equipment – all without having direct access to them. Simon continued by saying he, “learnt an awful lot by sound engineering for live shows as well as studying other producers” and “it soon became clear that this was what I wanted to do”.

Being trained at the highest level in classical music aided in the grounding needed for developing his professional studio career. It was not until 16-year old Simon was introduced to a new style of dance music that had swept into the UK – Chicago House. “Within a week I’d borrowed a pair of SL1200s and taught myself to mix”, he shared.

Every artist continues to grow over the course of their career. Simon is no exception. His continuation of workings on personal productions always tend to showcase ‘house’ vibes with melodic and progressive sounds. “I ghost produced for a major label for a couple of years and made trance music, as well as working on numerous pop music projects”, Simon tells Frisky; further stating – “but I just naturally gravitate to house”. Anyone who has listened to The Cloudshapers – Simon’s alias used for traditional house tracks – can attest to this.

“The Cloudshapers project began after a friend who worked at Sony heard a track I’d made called Obsession”, Simon kindly shared as he described his growth as an artist. And continued, “He [Simon’s friend] suggested the concept of releasing it under an alias because it didn’t match my own sound and the commercial remixes that I was doing at the time”. The Cloudshapers project in itself gave Simon the freedom he needed to keep both performing and producing ‘house’.

Currently, Simon’s focus has been working on a series of ‘chill’ albums for Krafted. Excitingly, they have brought new artists in featuring on new tracks along with Krafted’s seasoned past contributors. “Everyone has worked so hard on this project and even though the label is new to the ambient/chill market, it’s clear that we are attracting top quality artists and a great fan base”, he cheerfully shared with me.

In addition to currently releasing exciting track ventures with Krafted, Sinfield also finished up another Cloudshaper project. “I just completed two new Cloudshapers remixes for legendary producer Sanny X” adding “I remixed the Mellow Makers ‘Keep The Music’ for his label Plus Soda, and was thrilled to be on remix duties for Sanny’s new single with Carol Jiani, called ‘Who’s the Diva?’, forthcoming on Krafted” as Simon further shared with me.

Simon gave a little hint into his new upcoming solo track dubbed ‘Mission’ as a counterpart with his new radio broadcast here on FRISKY – appropriately named, ‘Mission’. He jokingly said, “If you want to hear it then you’d better lock on to the show”.

As our interview continued, Simon gave FRISKY News fresh insight into his career, personal life, family and, of course, on his Mission show with FRISKY. From previous guest mix shows to being Artist of the Week – there is no doubt Mission will indeed keep its “mission” providing FRISKY listeners with the progressive house sounds Simon Sinfield always brings.

Your projects include some very exciting ventures ranging from track remixes, producing, radio show broadcasts and solo materials/tracks – that it’s unquestionable why you have gained global support for your music. What’s been your favorite project you’ve worked on? And how has that experience transpired/affected musical projects thereafter?

A few years ago I was invited to work on a track with Alan Connor, a superb UK-based singer/songwriter. The vocalist for the song was 80s pop star Thereza Bazar (from UK pop act Dollar). The whole project was great fun and it was incredibly rewarding to bring such an accomplished artist into a completely different world. I also love working with new artists right at the beginning of their career. I don’t care what the genre is. You can really improve your own skills by sharing your own knowledge. There will always be something that will come the other way when in the studio. I think you have to be very open and work hard at a collaborative approach.

Is there any artist you’ve always wanted to collaborate with? Why?

Oh it would be exhaustive and would require a time-machine. I’d jump in the DeLorean and work with Donald Byrd or Prince! Recently I produced a track for the forthcoming Krafted Chill Vol 3 album which is a cover of a Sade track. She is one of my favourite female vocalists and that would be truly exciting to write and record with her. Or how about Hannah Reid from London Grammar? I could go on and on…

Who has been your musical influence(s)?

For me, Trevor Horn is the king of production. His ground-breaking work in the 80s was a huge influence on me and I was lucky enough to have him give me great feedback and guidance on a track that I produced. I’m also a huge fan of modern day producers like Michael Woods, Shadowchild and the achievements of pop producers like Max Martin. Musically, I have various influences, including jazz, funk, new romantic synth-based tracks and of course classic house music.

Electronic music has undergone some shifts within the past decade alone. What are the keys to remaining relevant to a broader audience? And in reaching diverse listeners of all ages?

Yeah there’s been a shift but it all comes around again and again. There’s stuff happening now in underground dance music that everyone thinks is fresh. It’s not. Very rarely are we creating something completely unique. It’s all an evolution driven by the new generation or by new technology. It’s key for artists/producers to harness the technology and marry it to their own influences, musical passions and creativity. I also love the concept of the remix. Transforming an original track into a different genre to reach a new audience. It’s as important now than ever before.

Do you find yourself always prepared to capture ideas as they emerge?

In between artist and album projects at my studio I have to maximize my time and get ideas down quickly. When working on commercial projects you have to be mindful of the time and so it’s good to push yourself to completing projects. For the majority of my work it all starts at the piano, but sometimes it can be a quick 8 bar construction in Logic, or even a sound that I’ve captured when out and about. For example, Paul Sawyer and I released a track called ‘Atrium’, which was exactly that. The sound effect and pad sounds were a recording I’d made on my phone whilst in an atrium of a busy office building. The following day we were scheduled to be in my studio and it was a great way to fire off that initial creative spark in the pair of us from this simple recording.

Every artist has their own unique style and ways bringing out creativity while working. What insight about your unique creative process can you share with me? And how would you best describe the creative process behind the Mission show?

When making my own tracks I develop the sound palette first. I will program a handful of sounds using various bits of hardware I have in my studio. Sometimes I’ll re-use certain sounds, but there’s always something built from scratch to help the creative process. My Virus or Juno 106 are always go to synths to get me started. The same has always gone for my guest mixes, radio shows and live sets. There always has to be a beginning, middle and an end, but somewhere I like to add something unique like a special edit or bootleg, just to catch out the audience.

You’ve worked on numerous tracks with Paul Sawyer yielding astounding work. What makes the chemistry work so well and will we see any new original tracks together in your Mission show?

Paul was a guest on my radio show on UK commercial station Fire Radio. We just hit it off and have very similar musical tastes. We work very well together in the studio and when we do get to collaborate it’s always great fun. Unfortunately we both have very busy schedules so finding the time is difficult, but we do have a few new tracks lined up and the first chance to hear any new material will always be on my show Mission on Frisky.

If you would please, kindly share with me how did Mission get started with Frisky? What will we hear from the Mission show? Anything special FRISKY listeners should look out for?

Having been invited to be featured as ‘Artist of the Week’ on FRISKY, I am delighted to be bringing my Mission radio show to the FRISKY audience every month. The show is all about introducing the listener to my own progressive house sound, as well as more traditional house productions, chill tracks, and my favourite new promos.

Besides working on music, what do you like to do for fun?

I have two children and just love hanging out with them. They just bring out the kid in me. We like traveling off in the camper van to new places, paddle-boarding and of course eating all the food you’re not supposed to! I’m also a motorcycle nut, so getting a blast on one of my bikes is also a great way to unwind.

What words would you like add/say to the FRISKY listener and devoted follower?

A huge thanks to the FRISKY team for making me feel very welcome. Whether you’re a regular or a newbie listener, thanks for joining me for my Mission radio show. Volume up people!

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Tune into the premiere on November 16th @ 12PM EST [convert timezone] or listen anytime / anywhere after with a FRISKY Premium Subscription & FRISKY Mobile Apps.