Break Reform are Simon S, JJ Webster & Nanar. With a Gilles Peterson Worldwide session planned, two recent 12″s and a new album coming out, it seems to be all coming good all at once. Just to make sure Fly doesn’t miss out, Gerry Hectic tracks down Simon S to get updated and find out about the Japanese connection.
Simon S is not only a member of Break Reform and a DJ for some 15 years, he is co-founder of independent record label Abstract Blue Recordings. In addition to Break Reform, the label has also released material by Low Budget Soul, D’nell, Aztec Productions featuring Julie Dexter (ex-Tomorrow’s Warriors) and others.
Why the name Break Reform and how did you meet JJ & Nanar?
Nanar saw the words Break Reform on a wall in a café in Soho. It seemed to fit what we were trying to do. I met Nanar many years ago at her school drama night where she performed a song with piano and blew me away, we stayed friends ever since. JJ & I worked at a local record shop together and started making beats at his place.
Gilles supported the first album Fractures and included ‘Perfect Season’ on his first Worldwide Compilation CD (2000). How did you feel about your song sitting alongside tracks by George Benson, Horace Silver and Sarah Vaughan? Was ‘Perfect Season’ your favourite track off the Fractures album?
Gilles has been great and being included on such a high profile compilation was a privilege for us. Loved the Jill Scott & Sarah Vaughn tracks on there. Not sure about my favourite on ‘Fractures’, maybe the title track or ‘Don’t Break This’.
The remix album, New Perspectives followed and your next release was called ‘Ghosts’. This was a 12″ which included ‘What Do You Do’, “a sublime piece of abstract soul only previously available on a Japanese import”. Was this your first link up with Japan?
Our link with Japan started when a guy who runs his own label ‘Village Again’ called me and asked if we would like to license our album with him in Japan. He had just done Victor Davis’ album & was doing the Focus album with Phil Asher so we thought it would be a good idea. He has been great with us and we have licensed everything on the label so far with Village Again.
Just before Christmas, ‘Waiting’ came out on 12″ with multi-DOMU remixes and you toured in Japan, what was the reaction like?
People were really great in Japan, they seem to be really supportive of our whole ‘scene’. Also, they seem to be a bit more open to music of all types of music in clubs, not just hard up-tempo stuff. I did 8 gigs altogether and passed through Tokyo, Kyoto, Morioka, Kobe. Hip Hop & Broken Beat seemed to be quite large there on my visit.
We’re told Japan’s the place to get your hard-to-get vinyl, did you find any rare gems?
Not really, although if that’s what your after then Shibuya in Tokyo’s the place, crazy amounts of record stores there, buildings with three floors of specialist music shops on almost every corner!!
How did you get on with the rest of Japanese experience?
Fine, it’s all made easier with the order of things in Japan, plus I have a few friends in Japan which makes the whole experience a lot easier. The trains run on time and they’re incredibly clean and well ordered.
Whilst you were out there, Solar Apple Quarktette brought out ‘Do You Love Me Too’ 12″ and the Break Reform remix seemed to get the most support on radio and in the clubs.
The reaction was great, we were really pleased with that. Nanar did some nice vocal work on that track. I really liked the Unforscene version though. I think Richard E (SAQ/Further Out) was pleased with the 12″ as a whole.
Your new single ‘And I’ came out on the 14th February on Abstract Blue. Domu says the Yam Who mix is a SA-RA style whilst Tru Thoughts’ Flevans said the Sidewinder Mix is outstanding. How do you see it?
I think a lot of people are influenced by Sa-Ra’s approach and also the whole 80s soul/funk sound is creeping into people’s music again. Yam Who? are genius. We love the mix they did for us, big love to them. Sidewinder is not as well known as Yam Who? or Domu but not for long. He’s very talented and that album (Resolution) was beautiful, I loved ‘Ego Riot’ although it was cool throughout. Great DJ as well.
And you’re busy DJing in London to support it?
I’ve just done Best Kept Secret @ Fluid with Alex Phountzi (Bugz In The Attic), Nick Matthews and Ben Smith. That’s a monthly gig. Also lots of gigs forthcoming plus my residencies. (see the DJ Gig News section at www.abstractbluerecordings.com).
There’s a Bonus track on ‘And I’ called ‘Neptune’. I notice it’s in your own Top Five. Why the all too early fade?
It was something we felt had to be quite short as it’s almost like an interlude with Nanar observing life in the way she does. Nanar writes most of the lyrics. It’s also a track from our forthcoming album Reformation. It should be out at the end of May and includes the original versions of ‘And I’ & ‘Waiting’.
A Gilles Peterson Worldwide session is planned in the near future. Are there any plans for a live show, or a return trip to Japan?
We should be doing a live session for Gilles in May and returning to Japan in the summer for a full live show to promote the album. There will also be a few live gigs in London & around the UK throughout the year.
It’s not only Gilles that liked ‘Perfect Season’. Top hip hop man on the West Coast Madlib sampled it. Get your hands on ‘And I’ and hear for yourself why it’s not only Madlib wanting to get his hands on Break Reform beats. Keep tuned to Gilles, watch out for the Japanese & UK dates and be prepared to fall in love with Nanar’s voice.