For over 20 years, Simon Shackleton has captivated the dance floor. Despite his prolific catalog, Simon says he’s felt limited by his own reputation. Fortunately his new solo album, ‘Piece of Me,’ has allowed him to explore his interests without worrying about fit or function. It’s a new side for Simon to show off, but his fans will surely love something so personal and inspired. After all, they’ve already responded en masse to Simon’s new PledgeMusic campaign.
When it comes to the music on ‘Piece of Me,’ do these different outlets you have require a different headspace? Does it take time to get into a mode or do you categorize things later?
That’s a good question. It varies. The thing with this album I realized when I started mixing the tracks is that I’ve been a slave to the dance floor for a long, long time. Everything I’d done had been cultivated towards DJ bookings and getting DJs to play the music. That puts a really narrow parameter on what you can do. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot you can explore within even the most narrow parameters, but with this album, I was making music where that ceased to be my primary reason for making it and that was very liberating.
I’ve always had massively eclectic tastes, really, and I felt like when I started writing this music that I hadn’t allowed that to shine through creatively in the studio for a long, long time. Outside of music for movies and games and what have you, I didn’t really do anything other than just plan for something that would rock the dance floor. So it was really interesting that some of the earliest tracks I wrote were really slow, really melodic, very vocal. I decided to use my voice a lot more, which I’ve used on various records over the years, but nothing like in the way I did on this album.
One of the first tracks I wrote, a track called “Waterfall,” which is slow with lots of layers, a wall of sound approach with few synths but mainly guitars. I played all of the guitar parts then I put the main vocal on there and it’s a 24-part vocal harmony that I sung myself. [Laughs] But it was awesome. I suddenly thought, ‘I can do something really exciting with this, something that challenges me creatively.’ So I just followed that and I’m very pleased that I did. I think it’s turned out to be a really dynamic and varied album.
That sounds like the kind of process that would be very fulfilling.
It felt great. I’ve always been very independent as a musician within the music industry. I didn’t have labels to worry about, and I wasn’t answerable to anybody but myself. But because of having spent so much of my creative adult life working for very specific goals and targets like the dance floor, for example, there was a chunk of me when I started writing music where I’d sit back and think, ‘I really, really like this, but I don’t know what to do with it.’ It was the wrong question to be asking. The most important thing is to make the music and then find a way to bring it to people. Pledge has been a phenomenal vehicle for doing that so far and it ties in perfectly with the independence I was just talking about.
Once this album this out, because it’s different, does that change the way you support it?
Yes it probably will. We’re in the early stages at the moment of putting together a fully immersive live show. That’s the end target with this. Obviously, with any goal, there are stepping stones along the way. For example, at the moment I’m not doing any live shows. I’m still working my way through the technological side of it. We’re in discussion at the moment about visuals and how to present them.
Next month, I’m playing at Glastonbury on a Function 1 on an experimental sound stage. It should be a really good set on Sunday evening of the festival. It’s going to be intriguing because the sound stage is three-dimensional, so what I’ll be doing is deconstructing some of my own music and reconstructing it to literally allow some of them to pilot the sounds around the people’s heads in different dimensions. That’s pretty awesome and that’s something I’m really keen to try to incorporate into the live show.
Realistically, I think we’ll be launching early in the new year. There’s a lot of work to do to put it together, but in the meantime I’ll be starting to write some more music at the back end of the year with a view to a second album coming out toward the end of next year. There are obviously stepping stones and planning for the future. There’s never a shortage of stuff to do.
You said the PledgeMusic experience has been a good place for this. Did you know what to expect?
I didn’t really, no. I’ve played around in the past. I was one of the earliest adopters of TopSpin, for example, going back to 2009. At the time when we did the ‘Revamped’ album, it wasn’t that dissimilar. We had various custom bundles, deluxe packages and found ways of sending mp3 alongside physical products and engaging people like that. But I think PledgeMusic has raised the bar as far as that sales technique goes.
My fan base and the sense of community that I have with people who follow what I do has always been super important to me as an artist. I spend a lot of time on social media, and I try to be very personable with them. I think Pledge goes with that very, very well. It feels like a very honest, very genuine means of allowing your fan base to show you support. At the same time, for me, that’s translated into putting ideas on the table to potentially buy into.
I think it’s a great solution, and it’s certainly exceeded expectations so far. I think we actually made our Pledge target within 48 hours, which is not what we expected, but it was definitely a pleasant surprise. [Laughs]