Shadow Child
Future Music|October 2020
Shadow Child
Mars Armada Electronic Elements, 2020

Longtime Future Music readers will be no stranger to one Simon Neale aka Shadow Child, Dave Spoon, Polymod and various other dance music monikers. Simon’s latest project, Apollo, is a series of EPs that take inspiration from early trance and progressive house tracks, using a combination of classic hardware gear and contemporary instrument and effect plugins. We hooked up with Simon to discover how he created his hypnotic breakbeat prog roller Mars.

Looking back at the early dance music, it feels like sound selection is what makes a lot of the classic tracks. Is being a good dance music producer about being able to pick the right sounds?

“For me, the sound inspires where I’ll go with melodies and ideas. I used to start on my tracks with drums and stuff, but all my best stuff has been led by having the synth sound first, or the melody or a pad or something. Normally the percussion comes second. The stuff that I start that is percussion-led tends to stay that way, it tends to stay very ‘tracky’. So yeah it is important and I think presets are OK, and I think I and a lot of people tend to use a preset as a start point and then expand on that.

“Having said that, the Apollo project has got two or three familiar lead sounds in there that are just presets. I really feel now – with any wisdom that I’ve got – that your sound palette is one of the most important things, and actually it will help your writing. I think if you’re just kicking around a few sounds you’re not sure of, it isn’t very inspiring. I like to jump in, find a sound and straightaway, write something and commit pretty quickly. I really find that that’s the key to it.”

You use a Roland TR-909 kick drum on the track. 909 kicks don’t tend to go particularly low frequency wise, so is that a case of the Solid Bass patch on the JV-2080 filling up that low end?


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October 2020