Photo: Pip Bourdillion

James Ellis Ford, one half of Simian Mobile Disco, who has worked with the likes of Arctic Monkeys to Depeche Mode, will release his debut solo album on Warp.

On The Hum, Ford has deftly side-stepped the obvious choice of flicking through his contacts to produce a press-worthy pop album with a galaxy of A-list feature appearances. Instead, the release is as much an homage to the tender and eccentric English pop music of Brian Eno and Robert Wyatt as it is a love letter to his wife and son’s Palestinian roots. We’re told to expect a “madcap voyage into the cosmic unknown” and a “successful experiment into writing classic heartbreaking anthems.”

The album has been in the works for several years. In 2017, Jas Shaw, his Simian Mobile Disco partner, was diagnosed with a rare disease which meant that the band was now on hiatus. “The lack of having Simian Mobile Disco as an outlet to make music for myself probably forced my hand to make a solo record,” says Ford.

He confesses that initially the temptation to scroll through his iPhone and call on a lot of his previous collaborators for help was strong: “I was making tracks and thinking, ‘Maybe I’ll send this to Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys).’ It genuinely did cross my mind that I could make an album with a lot of guest features, but it just felt braver for me to do it on my own.”

Across all 10 tracks, Ford played everything live, with no sequencing, no soft synths, and no DAW. Music was recorded straight to tape on first or second pass, giving it “vital immediacy,” we’re told.

But playing everything himself was easy compared to having to sing: “I’d never sung in public before. I’d never done karaoke. I don’t even sing in the shower! I’m always telling artists to lean into their vulnerability [in the studio] and suddenly I had to apply some of these ideas to myself. I ended up with a taste of my own medicine!”

Alongside the announcement, Ford has shared “I Never Wanted Anything,” which concerns the middle-years realisation that most of life’s opportunities are starting to retreat from view, but being comfortable with it.

“I feel incredibly lucky that I’ve managed to keep doing what I do,” Ford says. “When I play music and I get the feeling that it’s going to be amazing? That’s literally the buzz that I chase every day.”


01. Tape Loop #7
02. Pillow Village
03. I Never Wanted Anything
04. Squeaky Wheel
05. The Yips
06. Golden Hour
07. The Hum
08. Caterpillar
09. Emptiness
10. Closing Time

The Hum LP is scheduled for May 12 release. Meanwhile, you can stream “I Never Wanted Anything” in full below.