SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO with JDH and DAVE P at the Hoxton (69 Bathurst), Friday (December 14), doors 10 pm. $15. RT, SS, TW. See listing.
On their new tour, UK dance music duo Simian Mobile Disco are doing something a little different from the DJ routine they've done before in Toronto.
"We basically bring a mini version of our studio on the road, and it's all live," explains James Ford. "We've got various synths, drum machines and a mixing desk so we can recreate the way we originally made the songs. The very nature of it means the set is different every night."
That's a far cry from the live dance music "performance" EDM superstar Deadmau5 described earlier this year in his controversial blog post We All Hit Play. He argued that in order to make his complicated stage show work, he needed to be locked to a timeline allowing little room for improvisation or anything resembling live playing.
"It's totally up to performers how they want to represent their music live," says Ford. "We want to keep it as loose and human as possible, but I'm not going to criticize others for how they do their thing.
"There are definitely a lot of people just pushing play, or seeming like they're doing more than they are. That's fine, though. It doesn't make it any less a good show for 90 per cent of the kids in the crowd.
"We'd feel like we were cheating ourselves if we did that, though; mainly we want to keep things interesting for ourselves. I imagine you'd start feeling suicidal after a few weeks on tour if the show were the same every night."
But Simian Mobile Disco's approach can be unpredictable. Tap the wrong knob with a clumsy finger and that bass line might suddenly turn into a menacing cloud of white noise.
"There's always something that doesn't go according to plan, but the trick is to make it work. Make it sound like you did it on purpose. It's like that famous jazz thing: if you make a mistake, do it again."
They've been having so much fun taking their machines on the road that instead of going back into the studio to make another record, they've decided to document their approach with a live album. They've been recording their shows, so if Friday's Toronto gig is magic, you might end up hearing yourself cheering in the background on the record next year.