We talk all things Disco with London’s shimmering live band as they get set to soar with their brand new single ‘We Can Fly..
A huge welcome to DMCWORLD Niteshifters, where on planet earth are you today?
We’re in London rehearsing our live band. We can’t wait to show you guys what we’ve been up to.
What is the best piece of new music you have heard recently?
This insane band from LA called Knower. A guy called Louis Cole and a girl by the name of Genevieve Artadi. Dorky, funky and totally out-there nuts.
From what we can gather, 2018 has already been quite a year for you, what have you been up to?
Apart from a lot of songwriting and recording, we’ve been tightening up our live act. We brought the band to an exclusive gig at the 100 club, played in front of a packed house and it was lit. We weren’t sure how the recordings would translate, whether we should play to a backing track or go full live, but the big sound of a 10 piece band was tight. We’ll be putting out some clips from the evening soon, look out for them…
Please tell us how the Niteshifters project came about and who is in the band?
Disco always seems to be the antidote to hard times. Whether it’s in New York in the 70’s or post-recession Brexit Britain, people don’t just want to hear the bad stuff – they need to party. House music has never gone away and with it has come a renewed interest in the original disco sounds of the past. I wanted to put together a band that had all the energy of these luminaries, all the quality of those fat vinyl studio recordings, but with songs that resonate today. When we got the band together it was clear – Khadija is a natural star, she exudes energy and when she’s on stage everyone picks up on it. She’s got the tones of all your favourite classic disco and soul singers, with her own infectious and very individual style. The rhythm section works as one, with bassist Ben Jones laying down the bedrock of groove, and drummer Ollie Raphael stapling it all together with his watertight beats. Jules D on percussion sprinkles the magic, with myself (Ed Moris) on the keys and Laurence Bryar on guitar. Love Laurence’s touch – his uncanny attention to detail belies his uncompromising funkiness. With Elliot ‘Do your Thing’ May and dynamic diva Faye Streek on backing vocals, there’s a wall of soul hitting you out the speakers. Icing on the cake comes from our horn section – Toby Street – one of London’s go-to top jazz trumpet players, and rising star Nacho Stax – he plays the sax.
You released your debut album last year ‘Huge Disco’, what’s your favourite track from the album and why?
To play live, Say Yes always smashes it, it’s one of my favourite’s lyrically too. When Faye and I wrote it, scientists had just discovered three planets in some distant solar system that could sustain life. it was completely mind-blowing, already there were people signing up to life on Mars, and here in our present time we had discovered a place that could sustain human life. In an age of uncertainty, with a band hell-bent on escapism, it seemed like the perfect place from which to draw inspiration. It’s basically a love song, and the going-off-and-living-in-space thing was a way of saying ‘I’ll love you to the ends of the earth’ only like, further.
You are obviously massive Disco fans, which artists inspire your sound?
When we recorded the album we did a lot of research into original recording techniques – deadening snare drums with tea-towels, close mic placements, using the right amps and guitars all that sort of thing. A recurring point of reference was the original soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. I loved the diversity, how it seemed to incorporate all aspects of the scene at the time, there’s BeeGees, Moroder, Classical, Latin – all styles. I’ve listened to that album in so much detail, so many times. And of course you can’t have a conversation about Disco music without talking about Nile Rodgers. He’s been pictured recently clutching a copy of the album, would love to know what he thinks of it!
Following the success of your first single ’Show Me What You Got’ you’re releasing the follow up, ‘We Can Fly’ on Delimusc, what can we expect to hear?
It’s a party track, uplifting and fun – it’s about how when you’ve found love you feel you can fly. The live track is in the timeless disco vein, with some killer remixes.
The release also features remixes from Dr Packer and Simon Tellier, that did they bring to the table?
Dr Packer’s got this great vibe, he’s got a way of taking classic tracks and giving them his own spin. When we heard he was into our track, we were keen to get him on the remix. He totally gets how we want to bring the disco sound into the 21st century and we’re hyped about his mix – it’s a full-on vocal banger! Simon’s this mad-talented French dude, he came over to the studio one day and we instantly clicked – I’m half French myself for a start. He’d just come off touring with Pet Shop Boys as their drummer/all round musical whizzkid. Picking up nearly every instrument in my studio, we threw down some funky layers, he took it back to his studio in LA and came up with this insane track. So damn funky, gonna be a hard choice for DJs.
You’re also a full live band, what’s been your favourite gig this year and where are you most looking forward to playing before the year is out?
The live band’s done a couple of tester gigs in London which have been great. The energy is intense with a 10 piece on stage. We’ve got great plans for the band, in the meantime going to do a few studio sessions and keep an eye out for VIP gigs…
How does it work with your live shows, are they all improvised like your live jam recordings or do you stick to a set list per se?
The live jams have worked great as a songwriting tool. There’s nothing like an organic groove that’s come from nowhere, but when we play out it’s a show. We don’t just want to play the record, so we’ve adapted the songs, put in a few surprises and there’s always a little room for improvisation, we like to keep it fresh…
What are your thoughts on the current massive Disco resurgence?
Yeah baby bring it on!
Who else is currently kicking it for you on the new Disco scene?
For me the scene’s about DJ/remixers like Joey Negro, SoulWax and Dimitri, more recently Dr Packer, Pete Heller and Late Nite Tuff Guy who have brought this eclectic mix of classic tracks to a new audience, seamlessly weaving in the latest deep house and soulful beats. Bit of everything, not just the 70s go-to’s, hearing those 80s Salsoul remixes and a lot of random US 90s soul vibes now too which is great. In terms of new talent, of course I would say so, but Simon Tellier’s definitely one to watch. Recently he put me onto Oliver too, he’s got this great, spacious sound – love it.
What precious piece of advice would you give to any producers just starting out?
Believe in yourself, work hard, make the best music you can make, make it sound as good as it can, only take the good advice from the good people – f**k the haters and wannabes.
We come to raid your record collection, which embarrassing record do you chuck out the window before we arrive?
I used to do a lot of crate digging for obscure funk and disco records. Sometime’s I’d just go for the cover, especially if it was foreign. There’s some gold in there but I’d say there are more clangers than bangers, I’d probably be chucking out a boxful!
What record makes you say ‘damn, I wish I made that’?
See above (Saturday Night Fever) and Attention by Charlie Puth. Such a soulful lead on that track, with a simple but solid groove backing it up.
Finally what’s coming next from you?
This single’s given us a great direction, we’re shooting the video for We can Fly and it’s been a great journey so far – worked with some great people, got our music on the TV over Wimbledon, played some top London venues and we’ve got a killer band. Been working on some other projects with Simon Tellier, bought a vocoder so had to give him a call when that came in…can’t wait to get the band together for the next studio session, in which we’re going to do a live performance and film it all.
‘We Can Fly’ will be released on August 3rd on Traxsource promo / Full release August 17th 2018