Simon Lee is one half of Faze Action with brother Robin. They have been writing, producing, playing live and DJing for over 20 years and have released 5 critically acclaimed artist LPs and countless remixes, making them one ofthe most credible and in demand original artists within the growing Disco, House and Balearic scene. Their early successes, included “In the Trees” that features Robin’s classical ‘cello, and “Disco Motion”, became instant classics on the Nuphonic label and changed the musical landscape at the time, paving the way for the Disco revival of today. The brothers started their musical journey growing up in Amersham in the suburbs of London. With its close proximity to the capital city, Simon & Robin soon found themselves becoming obsessed with Disco, Jazz Funk and early House music. Robin, who was already learning the ‘cello and piano’, says. “Simon would bring home records, like Johnny Hammond’s Fantasy, and ask me to play along. We had never heard music like this and we felt we were discovering something new. It was intoxicating”. By the mid 90’s Simon was DJing and working in a record shop and Robin was playing live regularly in classical concerts and bands. They decided to make their first record, entitled “Original Disco Motion”, a contemporary slice of modern disco, which was sampled by Moodyman, released on the legendary Nuphonic label.
Where`s your hometown?
My Home town is Amersham. Its basically the last stop on the Metropolitan Line on the London Underground.
Where are you based?
I`m based In London.
Where do you currently go – locally – to listen to music, and dance?
My wife does the lights for the Lucky Cloud Sound (Loft) and the All My Friends parties, so I`m usually at those, when I`m not DJing. I also go to Brilliant corners and Horse Meat Disco. So I`m still out `n` about quite a bit. Listening and absorbing other DJs, and new music.
When / how did you first get into music?
I first started getting into music when I was about ten or eleven. Listening to mainly chart stuff. It wasn’t until our parents bought one of those all-in-one Hi Fi’s in about `86, and a friend who lived down the road started playing me James Brown and Hip Hop, that I got hooked on buying records.
What instruments do you play?
A bit of Percussion here and there. My brother Rob, the other half of Faze Action, plays the cello, bass, keys and guitar. He graduated from Goldsmiths in London, and was in quite a few bands while there. Playing Funk and Jazz, etc., alongside the more Classical concerts at the University.
So you’re over 20 years deep into the Faze Action career, looking back what were the pivotal moments?
There have been a few moments. “In the Trees” was a big one at the start of our career. Playing live at Glastonbury, DJing at the Exit festival in Novisad. They were all great moments and hopefully there will be more.
What were the most challenging times for Faze Action?
I guess the most challenging things for us is time management as we both have other jobs so that we can keep Faze Action moving. This takes up time but it does enable us to keep the label and Faze Action moving on.
What records / artists influenced the music you were making at that time?
Mainly Disco, Arthur Russell and anything from New York. At that time playing Disco and hearing Disco in London`s clubs was not what it is now. You could go and see Harvey, the Idjut Boys, Ashley Beedle, but, with no internet, in `95 you had to rely on photocopied articles for info, and digging for records.
What made you start Faze Action Records? How easy has it been to keep the label going? Would you consider releasing other artists` music on FAR?
After about six months at Juno I got put in charge of “genre-busting”, which meant that each day you had to listen to every release and make sure it was in the right genre. As a result for about a year, I listened to everything from Minimal to Soulful House. I started noticing the music coming from Lindstrom and the whole Norwegian crew, and it really spurred me and Robin on. Suddenly we were having fun writing music again. Running our own label felt a bit daunting, but the freedom it allows you in terms of releasing what you want, when you want, out weighed all the minus points. It`s still a challenge to keep everything going. With vinyl, obviously, the margins are very small, but we are still very passionate about this format, and our latest releases have done pretty well. So it`s all good at the moment. We have released other artists on FAR, but to me it`s a big responsibility – with accounting and doing everything properly – and not its to be taken lightly, so we decided to focus on our own music. Rob releases his solo projects – Andromeda Orchestra and Rudy’s Midnight Machine – on the label. However, things might change here, and we might start releasing other artists again.
You haven’t done a compilation since 2001`s Abstract Funk Theory. Can you tell me a little about the new one?
Yes, true we haven’t done one for a while, as we`re usually focused on writing new music. However, we know Dave Lee aka Joey Negro, and he approached us with the idea of doing an Under The Influence, so we decided to go for it. Obviously the last few have been of a very high standard so it was a lot of work to find records we were into, that hadn’t been comp`d before. But we`re very happy with the selection, as it reflects what we`ve been playing for the last few years in our DJ sets.