In The Studio With… Shpongle’s Simon Posford
Simon Posford really can’t complain today. The British-born producer has some chores, but nothing he considers terribly stressful.
No, he’s kicking back at his girlfriend’s house in Los Angeles, and all he needs to do before hitting the road again is to work on a remix of Blues Traveler’s 1994 hit “Run-Around,” and mind her kids with her ex-husband—Blues Traveler guitarist Chan Kinchla.
“Whoever’s home looks after the kids,” Posford explains. “It’s all very Californian.”
Although shut out from a scheduled Burning Man appearance—alongside other notable EDM names after the BMorg sold out of tickets—Posford has still expanded many a festivalgoer’s consciousness this past summer with his multimedia Shpongletron DJ set.
Psy-trance fans have embraced Posford’s productions as Hallucinogen and Younger Brother, but it’s Shpongle’s 15-year-old freeform exploration into psychedelic world music fusion that has won over the New Agers and jam-band devotees outside of the EDM underground.
“I like to think of Shpongle as more unclassifiable than a lot of music,” says Posford, “just because we draw from so many genres, from jazz to classical to electronic to organic to dub, house, trance. There’s really no rules. I don’t pick a genre and make a track for the genre.”
While Posford has a small studio set-up in L.A., the serious composition takes place in the U.K. Logic Audio forms the backbone of his productions—he’s been a user since its early days—and he praises its high-quality sound engine, which he feels corresponds best to the live instrumentation and intricate sound design inherent in Shpongle.
Sound generation for Shpongle ranges from sources as high-end as Kyma and as basic as circuit-bent Speak-And-Spells and the Yamaha VSS-200 keyboard—even rubber bands stretched across tables will do.
Posford favors original hardware synths over digital emulators, using plug-ins from UAD and Waves and distortion units like Thermionic Culture’s Culture Vulture to distort the sound from vintage gear like the OSCar once the source sound is generated. To Posford’s ears, the soft synths simply cannot reduplicate the variety within the hardware.
“I rent [Roland SH101s] when I go on tour,” he reports. “They all sound very different from each other, just between each synth, whereas [a soft synth] will sound identical to an identical software version.”