Simon Posford of Shpongle on music helping you escape the drudgery and horror of life
Simon Posford of Shpongle sees the world through a unique creative lens, and he delivers his view with stunning visual imagery soundtracked by ethereal music that speaks to all the senses. This weekend, in honor of Earth Day, he'll be at Feed the Rocks (with the Disco Biscuits and RJD2) at Red Rocks, where he'll perform tracks from Shpongle's forthcoming album. We spoke with Posford about the new album and his Masquerade setup, and he gave us insight into the international reaction to America's recent tragedies.
Westword: Let's talk about "masquerade," both the word itself and your tour: What does it mean to you?
Simon Posford: We ended up just calling the structure -- the platform that I play on, this sort of 3-D mapping structure -- the Masquerade. It's kind of an appropriate word because if you think of a masquerade ball, everyone is wearing their masks, and in a way, you wear your masks everyday. It's sort of a masquerade party that you put on a different mask, I guess, and sort of lose yourself on the dance floor, and it may not be someone else, it may be who you truly are. It seems appropriate to describe what we do.
Do you think your music is a mask for you?
That's a good question. I don't know if the music itself is a mask for me, but, I mean, in a way, it's some sort of escape. It all ties into escapism. In a way music is my meditation and my escape, and it keeps from getting a proper job.
If it's the escape, what are you escaping from?
The horror of our lives. The reality that is presented on the television. I don't know. I'm a bit more lighthearted than that. I guess sometimes you just want to escape from the drudgery or the horror of life, ya know? Sometimes its good to enjoy your imagination. It's good to escape into your head, rather than out of your head.
Like you said, the reality that is presented to us through television, what are your thoughts on what our reality is in America? For your tour, we are in the middle of a recent tragedy in Boston, so I'm curious to know what an outsiders perspective is on that.
It's sort of interesting seeing the reaction to Boston, then the international reaction to the reaction. Boston, it was a terrible tragedy, but it puzzles me slightly that a whole city can be closed down and people are told to stay in their homes. This is treated as a national tragedy with people dying. The reality, the real tragedy, is that 30,000 person are dying every year from the gun laws in the same week this tragedy occurred, I think the U.S. Senate didn't pass the bill, is that right? About higher restrictions on gun ownership?
Yeah! To me, that's more puzzling, as a foreigner. It's interesting and puzzling how it's so ingrained in the culture here.
The guns! The whole excuse of the second amendment and the right to bear arms. I understand because I'm as anti-government as anyone else, so I would certainly like to be able to defend myself in that situation from a rogue government. No one has ever really overthrown a government with a gun, as far as I can tell.
Again, because you have this outside perspective on it, what is the comparison of our reaction to the international reaction?
That's like what I described. That was a horrible tragedy. There are greater tragedies going on everyday, and the day after the Boston Marathon, there was a suicide bomber in Baghdad who blew up a cafe and 27 people died, and I'm sure that didn't make the news here. It's the same everywhere, really, not just in America, and I'm sort of being a bit hard because the way we are evolved is from primitive primates, so what's going to be important to you is the local news -- what's happening in your village. Which tribe is going to invade?
That is what's relevant, and it's hard to step outside of that. So it's hard to sympathize with people thousands of miles away who you will never meet. The gun law thing is a bit closer to home for America, so it's a bit surprising to see that sort of behavior going on in the senate when really, thousands and thousands and thousands of people die every year from that.
Do you think there is a solution to something like that? If so, where would it start?
I don't know because there are many solutions, so it depends on how funny you want to be. You can take someone like Chris Rock who says guns are fine, but each bullet should be one million dollars. That could be a solution, I guess. I don't know. If it wasn't so engrained in the culture... I don't really know what the solution should be.
People want their guns, you know? The problem is that people fall back on the second amendment, but when that was written, the guns weren't the same high technology that they have now with the ability to fire off many, many rounds within seconds. You had to plug your muskets and load powder, and it probably blew up in your face half of the time. It was a very different time when that law was made, I imagine. I'm not really here to offer solutions. I'm better at criticizing.
What do I know? I'm just a snarky brit.
Let's switch gears a little bit. Tell me about your shows now and your thoughts on Red Rocks.
This is my first time at Red Rocks. I've only driven by it, so I'm obviously really excited to play such a historic venue. It's such a beautiful looking place. I'm thrilled to be able to go there. What I'd really like to do is bring the full Shpongle live band, and maybe next, that's what we are aiming for. This time, I bringing my Masquerade show, and I'm excited to come and check it out.
I'm familiar with Shpongletron, which I saw last year, and I spoke with the designer Zebbler, but I have yet to see Masquerade. Is there a setup that you prefer, or one that inspires your music differently?
First of all, I've got the new album coming out, so I'm excited to be playing new tracks. The Shpongletron and Masquerade have their positives and negatives. I think really now I am excited for Shpongletron version three, which will be the best both of these things. Meanwhile, the Masquerade is pretty good.
Anything you'd like to add in regard to the new album?
I played in San Francisco and played some of the new stuff off the album. It's a very intimate experience. When you are in the studio making the music, you really have no idea. It's really very personal and meditative. You don't have anyone critiquing except yourself. We are maybe our harshest critics. It's good to come out and play it and see if the people like it. I go back after the shows, and then we are about two weeks away from finishing, so it should be out this summer.
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