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Bonobo Captured the Essence of an Idea on Migration

Monday 11th, June 2018 / 07:00
By Hollie McGowan

Photo by Neil Krug

VANCOUVER – When Simon Green (best known as Bonobo) was first hit with the inspiration behind his sixth studio album, Migration, his life was in a moment of chaos. It was 2015 and he had recently completed the last tour for his previous album, The North Borders. After a whirlwind of shows on the road, he found himself once again back in L.A. facing the solemn realities of personal family loss and starting life anew. The result was a deeply personal album surrounding feelings of displacement, identity, and liminal states within the human experience. Since the release of Migration at the beginning of 2017, Green has slowly been settling into the next phase of his life in L.A.

“The end of this whole album cycle is on the horizon, so I’m transitioning back into whatever is next,” Green says, “but I’m still coming out of a very frenetic two years. I’ve come back to being stationary, so I’m transitioning into that now.”

Over the past year and a half, after hitting the market, Migration has been met with conflicting reviews. Pitchfork generously labeled it “his most sophisticated record yet,” while Resident Advisor unfavorably described it in comparison to his last release, The North Borders, as “a faded photocopy of its predecessor.”

“It kind of changes your own perspective on it a little bit,” shares Green. “Generally, I’m still connected to [Migration] in a kind of original sense when I made it. Even when we’re playing the tunes live, I’m still thinking about the mind space I was in back then in 2015 when I was writing [them].”

Music videos have also played a role in shaping the narrative of the album after its release. Whether by professionals commissioned for a project such as London based director, BISON, or by fans who have taken up the challenge of making alternative videos, each have added other dimensions to the theme of liminality.

“It’s always interesting because the people that have been working on the videos, its mostly their ideas,” reflects Green. “It’s a little strange having someone reinterpret your song. With music videos, you’re subjecting the double narrative on it. It’s kind of hard to separate [your story vs. theirs].”

All in all, Green says he’s happy with everything that has been created out of Migration. Two videos which accompany the track entitled Break Apart have stood out for Green as being particularly creative in their interpretation of the song.

“I do really like both videos. That one of the people in the motel rooms, [Spencer Creigh] was not commissioned to make it. He just made it himself and sent it over and was like, ‘Here’s this video.’ It’s beautiful.”

Green welcomed the filmmaker’s perspective, and after initially viewing it himself, decided to share it as an official. For him, it’s all about seizing moments of inspiration and then allowing creativity to flow from there.

“Capturing the essence of the idea is a very important thing,” Green thinks, “understanding when that inspiration is striking and then being able to catch it.”

Bonobo drops into the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on June 25