Casual dance fans could be forgiven for thinking DJ duo Shapeshifters had stayed quiet since the release of their 2004, world-conquering single Lola’s Theme. But the pair have been working steadily ever since, albeit on a less grand commercial scale.
“Although we’re very proud of what we did with Lola’s Theme, we come from clubs and that’s our first love. For a while there, I think we were making music for the wrong reasons,” said Simon Marlin, one half of the duo alongside musical partner Max Reich.
“That period had its moments — playing to 100,000 people in Hyde Park, appearing on Top of the Pops… but we started to get into a bit of a grey area between being DJs and pop stars, to be totally honest.”
Still, Marlin said he has fond memories of the song, named after his wife Lola.
“A lot of people still do aerobics to that record, it’s quite strange. When we finished it, we thought ‘Ooh, this isn’t bad’. We put it out on our little label Nocturnal Groove, and it just went nuts from there. When it’s embraced by people like that, it’s just totally out of your control.”
While the pair have since retreated from the commercial dance scene, they haven’t stopped pumping out floor-fillers: their latest single is a soaring remix of soul diva Candi Staton’s song Musical Freedom. Staton has enjoyed something of a late-life resurgence as a club diva, both through remixes (the Source’s iconic take on You Got The Love) and through direct work with producers like Groove Armada.
“She’s written some amazing songs, and she’s got a very distinctive vocal that works so well for dance music,” Marlin said.
“For me personally, it’s just the rawness of her voice. The soul and the emotion she generates is just flawless.”
The Staton track is featured on the Shapeshifters new Summadayze mix CD, released to coincide with their Australian jaunt as part of the festival next month. While they’re here, they’ll also be playing a special gig at Melbourne gay institution the Market. With the Shapeshifters’ love of dance floor divas, Marlin said there was no need to adjust their set when they play to gay crowds.
“We just do what we do. The minute you start changing things, you’re not being true to yourself. Whether you’re gay or straight, hopefully there’s something you can enjoy in our music — I won’t start playing I Will Survive just because I’m playing to a gay audience.”
Gay fans will no doubt remain eternally grateful for that.
“Yeah — not that song again! Please God, not again!”

info: Shapeshifters play Summanights @ Home on December 31. Summadayze CD is out now.

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