“Did we call ourselves 'Behling & Simpson' because it sounds a bit like soul sensations Ashford & Simpson? Oh, most definitely,” says Sam Simpson, one half of the slo-mo Bristol house pairing. “When we DJ, we do tend to end up recreating the dance routines from 'Solid As A Rock', which is frankly equal parts exciting and disturbing.” Behling & Simpson have been slowing house music down for a while now.
They used to make varied forms of bass music a few years back, and indeed were the guys behind the influential bass music blog — an umbrella site that inadvertently became a genre of its own. “The site's closed now — austerity and all that,” says Sam. “At the time, back in 2008, house, garage, dubstep and so on were fairly clearly delineated in most people's minds, but we were interested in the whole spectrum, as well as the roots of the sounds, and wanted to be able to showcase the lot in a coherent kind of a way.
“It was an exciting time because funky was starting to make an impact,” he continues. “Some dubstep producers were exploring new areas, the likes of Baltimore and baile funk were getting a lot of attention too — you could easily play a set that went from 125bpm up to 140, and covered music from across the world.”
“Unfortunately 'bass music' kind of ended up becoming a thing — a fairly bland thing too often — in its own right, rather than an approach or a term to describe lots of different things. But that's the way scenes and cultures develop.”
The pair started messing around with techniques and approaches in their studio, switching up how they looked at the music that they were making. “One of the things we tried was slowing our tunes right down, but keeping a hefty amount of swing and percussive interest in there, and that just seemed to click for us,” says Sam.
“Of course, once we got into that tempo, we realised we could take elements of disco, boogie, R&B etc and incorporate them into our own sound,” he continues, “as there's so much good music around that sits below the 'standard' house tempo. There's a different groove and shuffle you can get at a slower speed, and it's one we really enjoy exploring.”
Dubstep may have lost its sheen, but the space it created in clubland sounds has allowed producers to explore slower tempos. B&S say they're still doing stuff below 115bpm, and like to start sets down at 100bpm and build up from there where appropriate, “but we've also been really enjoying the challenge of trying to figure out how we can make stuff at different speeds that still sounds like us, stuff that we could play later in our sets”.
The new slo-mo house template that they're exploring doesn't mean they've neglected bass sounds, though. “Our Behling & Simpson tunes are generally full of weighty 808s and big basslines,” Sam says. “You play boogie and disco over a system and it properly thwacks at the low end; and if Randall came to DJ in Bristol, we'd definitely be there.”
Indeed, 'Tape Hiss' that was out on Applepips boasts a deep burrowing bassline, while gorgeous deep house ditty 'Fuse Strategy' featuring James Fox has still had a lot of attention paid to its bottom end. “'Bass Music' as a term or sound isn't really relevant to what we're doing right now, but if people like it and get pleasure from it, then fair play,” say B&S. “And thankfully the resurgence of interest in classic Chicago sounds seems to be making people more aware of the importance of adding character and sonic interest to their tunes — a bit of grit is vital!”
The guys have just signed a four-track EP to Shir Khan's Exploited label from Berlin, and have also done a couple of remixes for revitalised house legend Kerri Chandler which should be out before the end of the year. “Opening up a set of stems from Kerri's tracks was a pretty exciting moment in the studio,” they say, wide-eyed.
Before we leave them to their bass-wise slo-mo house lushness, DJ Mag just has a couple more questions for the duo. Sam, who is your favourite Simpson? “That's got to be Homer,” he says immediately. “And I tend to live my life in a state of Crisortunity, that famous Chinese word that means both Crisis and Opportunity.” And Ed, who is your favourite Ed? “Probably Eddie the Iron Maiden mascot,” he replies. “Of all his incarnations, his appearance in giant robotic form onstage feels closest to my humble self.”