the shapeshifters are the london-based dj and production duo of simon marlin and max reich. their meeting is well documented: simon was djing in sweden and was introduced to max. max was working in a record store in gothenburg. in his role as a&r for downboy recordings, simon was also looking for new talent and max was producing at the time as fused. it wasn’t long before fused were signed to the downboy. as a project fused was relatively short-lived but simon and max remained friends and began working together. in 2003, the shapeshifters were born.
at this time, both of the guys had reached a musical crossroads and wanted to do things on their own terms. they decided to go into the studio together and see what came out: the result was ‘lola’s theme’. it went on to become a major worldwide hit on positiva and set the stage for the shapeshifters. ‘lola’s theme’ also set the precedent for the way the guys work in the studio: let the music come together naturally and forget about genres. simon’s roots are in funk and soul, while max comes from a techno background and it’s this fusion that makes the shapeshifters sound so dynamic and exciting.
‘lola’s theme’ was first released on their own nocturnal groove imprint and the label remains a vital part of the shapeshifters equation today. originally launched as a platform for the new sound simon and max were creating, nocturnal groove now has over 50 releases to its name, and has become a home of established names and new artists in equal measure. the label is part of their passion for house music and is helping to keep the scene vibrant. amongst the artist roster on nocturnal groove, you’ll find the likes of frankie knuckles, martijn ten velden and k-klass alongside emerging talent such as roy mclaren, jason chance, sonny wharton and danism and there is nothing released on nocturnal groove that you won’t hear in a dj set from the shapeshifters.
the shapeshifters and nocturnal groove also run ‘nocturnal’ - a successful club night and was a vital part of london’s nightlife for several years running long-standing residencies at the end/aka and turnmills. the party is close to the guys’ hearts and they won’t do another one in london until they’ve found the right venue. however, that hasn’t stopped them taking ‘nocturnal’ on the road, of course, and they’ve played all over the world, often with young guys from the label in support and live visuals playing an important role. outstanding parties in recent months include tube in belgrade (serbia) and ambasada gavioli in izola (slovenia), and some exciting plans for ‘nocturnal’ events are in the pipeline.
the spirit of acid house runs through ‘nocturnal’ and it’s all about unpretentious clubbing. the shapeshifters pride themselves on being djs who select great records and the longer they have to play, the better. technical trickery never overshadows the vibe of the night and creating a musical experience the crowd can really get into. ‘nocturnal’ has also allowed the shapeshifters to remain true to their roots in underground house music while also enjoying significant commercial achievements. following the success of ‘lola’s theme’, the shapeshifters spent three years with a major label releasing several singles, numerous high profile remixes and their debut album - ‘sound advice. by 2006 it was time for a change and a new musical focus in a period when the music industry itself was going through momentous changes and major labels losing interest in house. up stepped defected and the perfect alliance was formed with one of the leading independent house labels.
the first fruits of this new partnership were ‘treadstone’ and a cover version of orbital’s ‘chime’ which received critical and public support alike, while their latest singe for the label, ‘waiting for you’ by the shapeshifters & shermanology has been a big success. further singles such as ‘helter skelter’ and ‘she freaks’ have been extremely well supported and have both received over 1,000,000 hits on youtube. in association with defected, the shapeshifters progress has been strong. in 2008, they released ‘the shapeshifters - in the house’ – a 3xcd compilation album and the release of ‘nikki beach - in the house : mixed by the shapeshifters’ compilation album will further cement their relationship.
simon and max will be the first to admit they never really felt comfortable on a major label, and over the last couple of years they’ve taken their sound to a level they feel is the best they have achieved so far. that’s reflected on ‘nikki beach - in the house’ where they go from deep house to peak-time stormers across a 2xcd package. nikki beach is arguably the most famous venue in miami, and the next few years will see them open a series of boutique hotels and clubs in las vegas and other locations in europe and asia.
simon and max are busier than ever dividing their time between recording sessions in their west london studio, playing all over the world and sourcing new music for nocturnal groove. they have three new singles scheduled for 2011 and they are also mixing the cover cd for this summer’s pacha magazine in ibiza to tie-in with the defected residency at the club. continuing their seven year association with the white isle and playing their fourth consecutive season as pacha, the shapeshifters will be playing four dates for defected in the house in 2011 as well as further shows at the new and uber-cool ushuaia in playa d’en bossa.
the other project simon and max are particularly excited about is their collaboration with frankie knuckles. it’s a friendship born out of respect and a love of music which has gone on to become a partnership in the studio. knuckles’ new productions will also be released on nocturnal groove. starting with ‘i’ll take you there’, which is recorded as frankie knuckles pres. director’s cut and features jamie principle on vocals – it is the first time these two legends of house music have been in the studio together since ‘your love’. the remixes on ‘i’ll take you there’ come courtesy of dimitri from paris, richard earnshaw, tony loreto and, of course, the shapeshifters themselves.
The shapeshifters are unashamedly champions of house in its many shades from the melodic and uplifting to tracks with a darker, techier edge. forget about whether it’s cool or not, as long as it has that certain funk and it moves them, they’ll play it. nocturnal groovers of the highest order – accept no substitute.