Multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter Simon Davies, who performs under the enigmatic moniker SAER, heads to London to perform for Live Nation Source at the Old Blue Last on Thursday 25th July. With the show just a few days away, we spoke to Simon about his influences, his rituals, the Hootenanny and what fans can expect from his live show.
We took a train to New Cross to hang out with South London’s fairest sister Only Girl to dig for vinyl gold at Green Onions and have a swifty in the legendary New Cross Inn. Thanks to Nici Eberl for the photography.
TW: And do you have an idea of what you’re after when you come here?
OG: Maybe genre-wise but really it’s about finding stuff you’ve never heard before. Just the other day I found some Disco albums by a guy I can’t even remember the name of now but it’s great. Even f I don’t know the songs I still come away with something – we just go for the record with the brightest cover – we call it lucky dip :). People think that collecting vinyl’s really expensive and it can be but most of what I get is under a fiver.
TW: What’s the best thing you’ve dug out of Green Onions then?
OG: Probably a white label of a Brandy remix by X-Men. I posted the cover on Instagram when I got it and people went crazy. I think there’s something about Brandy’s vocal that makes her tracks great for remixes. I also discovered an amazing album by an artist called Donald Byrd and am now obsessed with buying as much of his stuff on vinyl as possible!
TW: Is it important for you as an artist to release on vinyl?
OG: Yeah I do. At the minute I have a track featured on a vinyl compilation in the US by Vinyl Moon so I was listening to myself on vinyl for the first time the other week. I’d love to do more of it.
TW: There really seems be a swell of music coming out of South London at the minute. Is there something in the water?
OG: Ha ha! I think there always has been. I’m South London born and bred so I’ve always known that there is a great scene down here but it’s good that more people are switching on to it. It feels like everyone is saying they are from South London these days! But there probably is more going on than 5 years ago and it’s a pretty small area so you bump into people and it makes kind of a community which is really nice. London can seem like such a massive place sometimes.
TW: We’re here in the New Cross Inn today where you played early on in your career. What are your memories of this place?
OG: I think places like the New Cross Inn are invaluable for emerging artists to have a space to play. As a fan I always want to see a band for the first time in a place like this because of the connection you get with the artist on stage. I think artists who are bigger love playing small indie venues too because they are an opportunity to reconnect with fans in a way you just can’t in a bigger room.
TW: Where are the places you find yourself going out round here then?
OG: Peckham’s probably our place for a night out. There’s a new place called Tola which is really cool and we’ve always gone to Canavan’s pool hall – back in the day when the Rythmn Section nights started out there. A few years ago I saw Josh Hartnett in there-best night of my life – Hollywood stars in Peckham! And of course, Bussey Building is a staple of nightlife round here. Four Quarters also has an amazing little basement space where we played a set recently.
We mainly go to places when there’s a DJ we like so places like Corsica Studios, the Columbian, and recently lots of cool warehouse parties happening around south east where people are doing vinyl sets all night.
TW: The video for “Bittersweet” has you busting out some moves. Is that something you enjoy doing?
OG: Ah yeah – I’m a mover, you know? 🙂 We had some amazing dancers so I got to channel some real Destiny’s Child vibes. I shot that with choreographer Olivia Lockwood. She got in touch with me, said she liked my music and asked if I’d be up for doing something together. We’ve actually just shot another video for the track “Release” (check it out below) which also featured Alice Underwood as director of photography so it’s a real girl-power team.
TW: We first caught you earlier this year playing at SXSW in Texas. What was that whole experience like?
OG: That was a very different scenario to a regular show. You basically only have 10 mins to turn-up, sound check & start – normally you take an hour to do that! But once we’d done it and nothing had gone wrong we felt like “now we’re professionals” :). The main problem that week was the jet lag – I was so tired!
TW: And now you also have a secret show coming up in London. on the 20th November. What made you want to do something like that?
OG: It’s just going to be a cool little free show in a cool little venue. And believe me it is cool. No spoilers but it’s got a disco-ball. That was my only demand. The venue has to have a disco-ball.
Check out Only Girl’s upcoming shows including her show at London’s Omeara on April 4th 2019 here.