During the early months of 1996, a track of mammoth proportions slid it’s way onto the dancefloors of places like London’s Blue Note. A perfect early morning epic disco track with full-on strings and a hook that seem to make an evening’s clubbing complete. This track could be considered the ultimate example of what is interesting in English house music currently; chill, intelligent, seminal. If you haven’t caught on yet, we’re talking Faze Action… we’re talking “In The Trees”… we’re talking genius. With a couple twelve inch singles, some fantastic remixes, and a recent album which could be termed “essential” listening, Simon and Robin Lee are on a journey to house music’s pinnacle. Brad Massive talked disco with Faze’s main man…
First off, who is Faze Action? Introduce yourself and let’s hear some background information… age, favorite beer, political persuasion, favorite album of the 1980’s, pastimes, last book read, etc.
(Simon Lee): Faze Action is Robin Lee and Simon Lee. In basic terms, Robin is the musician and I’m the DJ/ Producer. I am 25 and he is 24. My favorite beer would have to be Lowenbrau. Political Persuasion? Left. My favorite album of the 1980s? There are loads, but Gwen Guthrie Padlock has to be up there near the top. My pastimes are drinking and buying music. The last book I read was the biography of Marvin Gaye.
With that established, let’s have the history of Faze Action… when did you discover house music and when did you start making it?
When did I discover house music? Well… house was not my first passion. It was funk and electro around 1985. From there I moved on to jazz in the summer of 1987. As my friends were well into house music around this time, I tended to go along with them to a lot of house clubs. During 1989, I got heavily into collecting disco and now I listen to a wide variety of music. Jazz, Reggae, Soul, Disco, Funk, and weird stuff… anything that clicks with me. We started making our music in 1995. I wouldn’t describe our music as house… but, house DJ’s play it, which is fine.
“In The Trees” turned out to be an extremely successful and critically acclaimed tune. Did you think it would be that well received and how do you feel about it’s success?
To be quite honest, I didn’t think “In The Trees” would be well received… but it’s success really launched our career and made us realize that music was going to be the first thing in our lives. In the beginning, our aim was to make disco with a slight twist but on the album we tried to push the boundaries of our sound as far as we could.
Let’s talk kit and production style…
We brought in live musicians which makes the creative process fun, interesting, stressful, rewarding… although not always in that order. Kit? I use someone else’s studio which is equipped with a 1973 Stramp desk.
You also have developed a reputation as a DJ…what’s your approach to that?
Well, anything goes…but in an orderly way. My best gig would be Madrid.
What do you think about the current media hype surrounding “New English House Music?”
I feel the term is not necessarily a phenomena… just people making good music.
Which five albums have influenced your music the most?
Lamont Johnson’s “Calypso After Nine,” NYC Peech Boys’ “Don’t Make Me Wait,” Quincy Jones’ “They Call Me Mister Tibbs,” Isley Brothers’ “3+3,” and Johnny Hammond’s “Tears.”
Where would you like to be in five years?
In five years I’d like to be producing big rock bands and doing experimental stuff. In ten years I’d like to be living in Spain (I’m currently study Spanish) producing music.