The Shapeshifters, or Shape:UK as they are known in the US, broke out onto international scene with "Lola's Theme," one of those rare club records that enter the mainstream consciousness yet stays true to the club roots. A string of commercial hits followed – Back to Basics, Incredible, and Sensitivity for major label EMI. The duo, Max Reich and Simon Marlin, have gone back to their underground and noctural roots and signed to house heavyweight Defected Records for their future releases. Watch out for their Treadstone EP and a mixed compilation in the near future.
DJ Ron Slomowicz: Max and Simon, of the Shapeshifters, how did the two of you meet?
Max Reich: We met up in Sweden about twelve years ago, in Gothenburg, my home town, and there, through a mutual friend, we were introduced. Simon was working at an independent label looking for new artists, and I gave him a cassette with hot stuff, so there you go.
Simon Marlin: Yes, as Max said, I was signing stuff and he gave me a cassette. That shows how long ago that was. And two weeks later, I signed him to the label. I was working, at the time, for Down Boy, and then we went on to work together at Sony. We signed the Aquafused project that was part of Sony, and then we basically have been working together ever since. I worked at Peppermint Jam for a while, and then we decided to do it ourselves. We set up Noctunal Groove with my wife Lola, and the first record we released was "Lola's Theme."
RS: Where did the inspiration to use that sample come from?
Max Reich: Well, it's Johnnie Taylor's What About My Love, an old record that Lola had in her record collection, an 80s record.
Simon Marlin: We were basically listening to old records one night and it was one of those things, the timing just worked out. I heard the first eight bars of What About My Love, and I put it on plus six and thought, 'oh this might work.' I said to Max the next day, 'let's do this,' and three days later we pretty much had the record finished.
RS: Did you guys have any idea the record would become as big as it did?
Max Reich: Yes, we did actually. We knew it was going to be number one and knew it was going to sell half a million records, that's it.
Simon Marlin: You know, we knew it was going to be the most bootlegged record in years and be on five hundred compilations. No, we had no idea, that's the honest answer.
RS: How do you follow up a single like that?
Simon Marlin: Just be true to yourself. You just do what you do. That's such a big thing – you just have to keep carrying on making records. The thing for us now is that we just want to keep making records for the dance floor, and if they become bigger records, then so be it.
RS: A lot of club music is now based on samples or dub tracks,
but your music tends to be vocal-based. Do you have a problem
translating vocals to the club?
Simon Marlin: Sometimes we end up playing our nocturnal mixes, which are the more dubbier ones. It's a tough thing. To be fair, right now in 2008 we're actually using less vocals, and doing more dubby stuff anyway. At the time, that's what was right for us. To be fair with EMI, they always wanted us to make vocal-led records because it's better for radio. But a year ago we decided, we don't make records for the radio, we just do what we do, and if people like it, they like it. You can't make records for record companies, you have to make them for yourself.
RS: Is New Day a sign of the way you're going with your new album?
Simon Marlin: Yes, but we've done a whole album. We're not going to put it out because we've just left EMI.