TEN TALKS TO BONOBO
2022 is off to a wonderful start in music - especially for Simon Green aka Bonobo. The British-born, Los Angeles based musician is up for two Grammys in the Best Dance/Electronic Recording, and that’s before his new album Fragments will be released this Friday. Fragments of ideas and recordings created in his Los Angeles studio during 2020 and 2021 make up the new record featuring guest features from Jordan Rakei, Joji, Jamila Woods and O’Flynn. Tense, emotional, fearless and freeing, Fragments is Bonobo’s most mesmerising record to date - and a perfect escapist album for right now. Filled with the flowing sounds of modular synths and cinematic orchestral strings, the album is an ode to the moments of isolation Green has felt over the last couple of years, but also to the excitement of the unexpected. It’s hopeful. We spoke to Bonobo about creating the new record:
What is different about the world of Bonobo this era? How has your sound and vision evolved?
"I guess the big difference this time around is I stopped moving. I’d been used to a pretty hefty touring schedule for twenty years and had to learn to make music without having those experiences to bounce off. Sonically I see each record as a rosary of where I am at that period and what I’m listening to.”
Where did you create this album?
“Mostly at home in my studio in Los Angeles, which is different to previous records when the initial writing had been done on the road whilst travelling. I made some time to get out on road trips to find some perspective away from the studio environment. It’s a good way to hear things with fresh ears. “
What was inspiring you when you were producing it?
“Usually it’s experiences I’ve had during the time. That could be anything from landscapes to cities, to feeling tired in an airport. All experiences are valid for inspiration. I had to make them this time by getting outside and engaging with the wilderness.”
You have collaborated with some great artists on this album. How do you choose who will feature on the album?
“Mostly from just being into what they’re doing. Everyone on this record and the ones before have been artists whose music I love and felt we could do something great together. It’s just a matter of reaching out and seeing who’s down to try some ideas.”
Was there a session with a collaborator that stood out?
“One of the most meaningful collaborations was with Miguel Atwood Ferguson. I’d been a fan of his work as a string arranger for years so was very excited to connect with him. He’s also based in Los Angeles so we went on a few walks around the trails in Griffith Park and had some great conversations about our lives, spirituality and everything else.”
What is something from the world of Fragments that you are most proud of?
“I think on the whole there’s been some new discoveries in the modular synth world. I was interested in using randomization and generative processes to start ideas. Lots of the sounds came from this process so it made the record slightly unique from previous ones in that sense.”
You’re based in Los Angeles - what do you love about it? Does it inform your sound and visuals in any way?
“There’s definitely an LA aesthetic through film, music and art but mostly it's the space and pace of life. There’s also an old romantic charm to the city which is hard to place. Like a nostalgic familiarity to certain parts of the city.”
What is something (other than music) that you’re super passionate about?
“Beyond music I’m very passionate about photography and architecture. Especially photography. I’ve been using it as a way to get outside of the music and connect with a different world creatively. It’s been a great motivational thing to explore too. Heading to a specific spot for a day to take photos has been a very good way to get into a different mind space.”
Where would you love for people to listen to the album for the first time through?
“Wherever it seems meaningful to do so. Journeys are always a favourite place for me personally. I like the idea of leaving space in music for the environment of the listener. The sounds around you and the changing ambience are a part of the record I left out for the listener to create."
Pre-order Fragments here.