Ones to Watch (No 4) – Sidwho?

Sidwho? – aka Surahn Singh Sidhu – hails from Adelaide, South Australia. He’s already been championed by disco tastemaker Tim Sweeney, and has seen his work remixed by DFA’s Jamie Paton (of Cage & Aviary) and the Juan Maclean. He is also part of the Swiss, a 3-piece live disco act signed to Modular, and recently became part of the Empire of the Sun’s live show. With so much on the go, people won’t be asking “Sidwho?” for much longer.

Who is Sidwho?

Sidwho?, born Surahn Singh Sidhu, 1981 in Adelaide, South Australia.

How long have you been producing as Sidwho?

I’ve been producing since high school and demoing since then too. I built a studio a few years back when I got some money together and needed to put all the bits and pieces I had laying around my bedroom into a new space. The Sidwho? moniker was born from me having a habit of making different styles of music and a knock-knock joke about my nickname ” Sid “.

What music did you listen to growing up?

My old man used to blast records like Steely Dan’s “Aja” at 4am when I was quite young, so that record has influenced me heavily, and is a musical nirvana to some degree for me. I had Herbie Hancock, George Benson and Tears For Fears in the walkman too. I discovered Bowie around the time I started performing heavily as a teenager and that changed my life for the better. Other early listening included Ravi Shankar, MJ and Fleetwood Mac.

You are involved with a  couple of other musical projects, is that right? Your band, The Swiss, has just been signed to Modular.

The Swiss is the greatest. It’s a three piece rhythm section that has ultimately been playing together for 10 years. We wrote a series of Movements in high school laden with heavy phrasing and extended solo sections (Headhunters style) and have kept some of these original phrases in our life for that long. The whole thing with The Swiss was not to make it about getting a deal and being deuches, we had another rock band that was taking care of that department.

After loads of work , shows and recording we convinced legendary Donnie Sloan to produce our record and become a member of our recording format. The debut 12″ had a great Brennan Green edit on the a-side and made an impact in New York which was super exciting for a bunch of Adelaide boys on the other side of the earth.

Now that the band has signed to Modular we kind of don’t want to change any of that nature; how we make music, really organic and free. This was always bound to prove a challenge, but so far our EP is sounding amazing and 90% finished … I’m looking forward to us dropping it in the heavy disco climate of 2010.

“I stalked Bowie once. When he came to Adelaide, I put my best suit on and took my demo to his concert”

Are you also involved with Empire of the Sun’s live show?

I got the call up to play in EOTS thanks to Donnie Sloan and Tony Mitolo (drummer for The Swiss ), who plays in the band too and recommended my multi instrumental flavours. It’s a thrill to have become a permanent fixture in what I think is one of the greatest pop acts of the new decade. Working with EOTS has been amazing and incredibly satisfying artistically. Luke Steele is a genius and just has amazing vision. He is one of the greatest artists I have ever worked with, we have a real romance together as people and as  players. It’s an exciting future with Empire.

The show is evolving and I’m really enjoying the theatre element. I did theatre as a kid and performing using stuff I learnt as a child has been rewarding. We have loads of ideas for the live show and it’s a real luxury to be in a position to table them and discuss the possibility of them actually happening.

“I wrote “Vote Bowie For President” around the time Obama was running for office. I was really into the election to the point where I wore official merch”

“Vote Bowie For President is a great tune” – tell me about the lyrics…

I wrote it around the time Obama was running for President. I was really into the election (as the whole world seemed to be) to the point where I wore official merch. Obamarama! The whole Bowie thing stemmed from that to be honest. I wanted the listener to imagine a world with out a dreary leader to one with a rather inspiring character instead. I stalked Bowie once. When he came to Adelaide. I put my best suit on and took my demo to the concert. I followed him back to the hotel and managed to get my demo to his manager and met the band, not him though. One day!

Are you working on any other original productions/remixes at the moment?

Always! The new Sidhwo 12″ will be dropped on Beats In Space in December and The Swiss remix series is underway. I’m writing with Jamie Paton from Cage & Aviary ( DFA ).  He did the edit on Violet Run and has helped me hone my disco arrangement chops. I’m also writing with Luke Steele from Empire Of The Sun. Tony Mitolo and I have a fun new project together called The Hedge Fund which is super club friendly stuff, with proceeds going into the share market then charity, debut release coming next month.

If you could go back and DJ at any club, in any era, where would you go and why?

The obvious is 54, Garage etc but I really would have like to have seen Arthur Russell at work in the studio to be honest. Oh, and while we are in the time machine I want to see that scene in Christiane F where Bowie is playing at that Berlin Club… throwing darts in lover eyes! I find it hard to travel back in time these days, I stopped eating peyote and reading Carlos Castaneda a couple years back.

What other artists are you really digging at the moment?

Arthur Russell, Everything on DFA, Lindstrom, Todd Terje, Prins Thomas, Cage & Aviary, Al Green, Tensnake, Aeroplane, Grace Jones, The Delicate Genius…

Adelaide is much smaller to Sydney and Melbourne – but it seems there is a new wave of talent emerging from SA. How do you see it from your level?

Adelaide is one of the most fertile places on earth and Australia’s best kept secret. We have an amazing amount of thinkers and artist plus philanthropy isn’t dead . It’s something about the way the light hits the hills that gets me going everytime I come home.

Any plans to hit European or American shores in 2010?

Coachella, Glastonbury.

What does the next 12 months hold for Sidwho?

A whirlwind ride holding onto the mane of a lion and a Sidwho? full length, when the dust settles.

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