Shadow Child is at the top of the UK house scene at the moment. With hits like String Thing, 23 and Feel Real, recognisable by their signature underground, bass-led grooves, this high-flyer has shot through the ranks quite impressively in the last couple of years, and then to think that Shadow Child was once just a side-project. Luckily it’s here to stay now. Before his gig in Amsterdam next week at All Gone Pete Tong ADE Special we wanted to see what he’s been up to and have a talk with the very modest and kind Brit.
“This whole project is carried by a vibe, and that is honestly what will take the whole ting forward. It’s sometimes best not to know!”
You had your first release on the label from Claude Von Stroke, Dirtybird, via Eats Everything. Most of them did not know that Dave Spoon was Shadow Child, but you felt you needed something new. Is there anyone in particular that inspired you for ‘Shadow Child’.
Yeah, so lucky to get a great start with this new project. It was never a plan to shout about it being me, I simply wanted people to discover the music first. The inspiration definitely came from Eats Everything though, I already had “String Thing” done but no home or name for it, when I heard Eats’ “Entrance Song” for the first time it blew me away and I immediately knew I should get in touch with him. It’s thanks to him that the link came with Dirtybird and now the rest is all history, as they say!
How was it to be nominated for DJ Mag’s Best of British Awards that same year?
Pretty surreal to be honest! The project was so fresh and new it didn’t seem possible. The remix that was nominated was one of my favourite’s I’ve done, still to this day and it’s one of my lesser known ones: SKAM “I Got What You Need” on Alive recordings.
Next to releasing amazing music of your own you also run your own imprint “Food Music” together with friends Kry Wolf. What is your vision with ‘Food Music’ and what sets it apart from other labels?
We hope we can sit in a place where the sound is cool but accessible too. A hard thing to achieve without crossing the line. There are so many strong labels in great positions out there that I hope we cement our place where we want to be. It’s all about the music.
Both you and Kry Wolf come from Portsmouth. How is the party scene out there?
A: Portsmouth isn’t on the map for much other than the British Navy and it’s massive history, so there’s not a lot happening on the weekends if you’re a real music-head, but the student scene here is crazy and the midweek parties and events are really strong. We actually both live in Southsea, the sea-front town of Portsmouth, and there’s nowhere better when the sun is shining! (Tourism plug over).
Every Wednesday you do a radio show at Rinse FM, what is your relation with them?
It’s all new to me, and sadly my time is always limited so I’m still getting to know them all yet but I’m fully committed to them and what we collectively do. It’s amazing to be back on the radio, and especially while the music is so fresh and there’s so much of it that’s quality. I’ll be playing some events with Rinse too and can’t wait.
A little while ago someone crashed in on your car and due to this you couldn’t play your weekly show on Rinse. What happened?
Wow you’re on it! I had to travel home from London with the car on a recovery-truck, as the ‘named driver’ on the insurance policy meaning I couldn’t get to Rinse. That day was so crazy, because the night before I had a dream that my car was in a hit and run! Luckily the next morning in real life the guy was still there and took all the blame. Nobody got hurt which is the main thing.
Some might not know it but before Shadow Child, there was Dave Spoon. When was the breakthrough moment that made you decide to play under this new name?
To be honest, I wasn’t into what happened to Electro House. Where it’s gone is to America, becoming the EDM thing. Fantastic and very lucrative if you’re into it as a producer and DJ, but I just couldn’t get into it and didn’t want to play that music, so I had to change it up and here we are! I needed to remove some creative boundaries in the studio too, so the name change decision came from all of that. It’s a personal thing that just happened to come together so well in the bigger picture too. I feel lucky.
You placed your most recent Shadow Child Remix on AlunaGeorge recently but after a little while you took it off and excused for placing it. This was not meant to happen. Or was it?
AlunaGeorge’s label weren’t quite ready for it to be public through my networks yet, only through their own. These things happen sometimes and I’m sorry for teasing everyone! It’s out there on YouTube if you want to hear it, but I can’t post on my Soundcloud just yet. Just one of those things.
You have had an original and a remix released on Moda Black, which are both in the top 10 of best-sold tracks from the label. Is there anything new coming on the label from your side?
Definitely not ruling that out, I love Andy, Jaymo and their team, but right now I have an album of my own to concentrate on so when that’s done we’ll see what happens next. I’d love to continue working with them when I can for sure and it’s great to be with them and Pete at ADE.
What would be your favorite own production?
Probably the London Grammar remix at the moment, I had to keep it true to the original and it was tough. It’s not a club record whatsoever and I wanted people to know Shadow Child isn’t just about the dancefloor. Saying that on the flipside, from a club prospective it’s probably the remix of Hot Natured.
Any other party you are not playing that you would like to visit during ADE?
I’ve not had a chance to look fully, but it’s a shame Joris Voorn & Matthias Tanzmann’s party is the same night as I play!! I’ll try and get along to see Scuba and Breach if I can, but I doubt I’ll be able to.
In a previous interview you said “Radio-wise you can’t go wrong with anything Detroit Swindle… solid.” What makes this duo so special in your eyes?
Their stuff is so great, everything from production to their influences. I’d love to work with them at some point whatever it may be, not a collab necessarily but in other ways maybe. One’s for everyone to watch, as always!
You have an album coming out in about a month. Not quite an artist album and not a compilation either. What is it that you call an album then?
It’s a collection. Like a ‘so far’ type thing.. So I called it “Collected”. It features my favourite remixes and productions so far as Shadow Child, and has a few new ones on there too.
How do you keep innovating?
That’s a big deal that word! I’m not sure I innovate.. I borrow from all the things that influence me from being a kid until now, like most musicians do I guess. I’d also not quite call myself a musician either but what I do seems to be striking a nerve at the moment so I take all of those positive feelings and comments and pump that back into my creations. Some aren’t musically genius, but they’re effective for sure and that’s what it’s about for me. Humbled to be doing what I do.
We have seen a lot of innovation in the last years of music, like new gadgets, to being a DJ becoming more popular than ever and styles getting closer to each other but also so far away. What do you think is next in the music industry?
I have no idea. I just like living in the moment and enjoying it as it is. It’s also that everyone has their own thing and as long as that continues, and the crowd loves to have a good time to great music, this scene will keep moving forwards from the equipment and software, to the people dancing and going home with great feelings and memories. This whole project is carried by a vibe, and that is honestly what will take the whole ting forward. It’s sometimes best not to know!
Experience this gentleman’s spellbinding sound at All Gone Pete Tong ADE Special in AIR Amsterdam, Thursday next week. He’ll be accompanied by fellow countrymen Pete Tong, Ben Pearce, Jaymo & Andy George and many more! See you there, and bring your string thing!
Shadow Child | Pete Tong | Skream | Ben Pearce | Tensnake | Jaymo & Andy George | Unit7 | Walker & Royce |