Pseudonyms have always been prevalent in dance music, but sometimes the new name adopted by an artist for a one-off track resonates so well that it supplants the previous moniker. This has happened with cats such as Fake Blood, Riva Starr and Redlight recently, and Shadow Child is the latest name to rapidly rise through the ranks.
Shadow Child is the new alias of Dave Spoon, which itself was an alias for Portsmouth-based producer Simon Neale. Spoon broke through in the mid-noughties with some quality big room house cuts, and even scored a couple of Top 40 UK hits (‘Bad Girl’ with Lisa Maffia that started off as ‘At Night’, and ‘Baditude’ with Sam Obernik and Paul Harris from Dirty Vegas), but Si has now sidelined the Spoon-isms as the Shadow Child project has taken off.
“I kept coming home from Spoon gigs uninspired, as I wasn't enjoying the direction it was all going in,” he tells DJ Mag. “I mean, I had fun playing to great crowds in fantastic clubs and arenas,” he qualifies, “but the music that was in demand doesn't excite me — and I'm crap at trying to make music I'm not into.”
He’d made the skippy garagey ‘String Thing’, which he gave to Bristolian beats consumer Eats Everything, and via Eats's championing of it 'String Thing' found its way to Claude Vonstroke in the Dirtybird camp. “They didn't initially know Shadow Child was me,” he says, “not that it's that important really, but it gave me confidence in pursuing something new.”
Picking the name “because it's all in the shadow of what people expected of Spoon”, this new impetus has made him feel like a kid again, he tells DJ Mag. Now in talks with Dirtybird for his third release, Shadow Child has also produced an ace garagey remix of Zombie Disco Squad for Jesse Rose’s Made To Play, as well as revamped Zinc & A-Trak’s ‘Stingray’ into a loose-limbed, shuffly phuture B-More cut.
“It's musically not far off my early Spoon stuff,” Simon says. “People that discover it's me are pleasantly surprised, and say it musically all falls into place — which is nice. It's fueling the fire in the studio, which is all I wanted back.”
With the EDM explosion in the US though, surely Spoon could’ve cashed in his chips and cleaned up? “I could send a stunt double out to Vegas maybe,” he chuckles. “Danny Wallace? Actually, I wouldn’t want to. A part of DJing is like acting, if you don't like the music you have to play. It defeats the object of why I got into all this in the first place.”
Si’s entry level into dance music was with drum & bass and hardcore, and like fellow Dirtybird signing Justin Martin and Vonstroke himself, bass is still very much a part of his sound. “I'm not a musical genius, I just know what vibes I like to have in my music and what buttons to press, which is largely what those scenes were about from a production point of view,” he says, modestly. “I guess that's why I've taken a different path now. I love the rawness and that UK-sounding edge, all of which comes from that era — can't do without it!”
With no grand masterplan, and no rules, he’s left the door open for Spoon to return and is now starting a new label called Food Music with Kry Wolf (“we're mates and keep signing the same kind of stuff to Sumo and Televizion”), and picking up some great gigs (Warehouse Project, Fabric etc) and remixes (for Hot Creations, Dirtybird etc). “There's even an old skool jungle remix of Justin Martin coming,” he reveals. “People will think I'm mad. Never thought this would gather momentum so quick, it's really good fun.”