Words by Lily Moayeri
The concept of OUTLIER is an all-encompassing brand that includes, but is not limited to parties, a radio show, eventually a label, and perhaps even its own festival, and it’s been on Simon Green’s mind for about five years. Known professionally as Bonobo, Green put the idea into practice almost immediately, and in the last four years, OUTLIER has become a tangible, multi-faceted brand spearheaded by Green, who is, inarguably, tastemaker label Ninja Tune’s most notable artist.
“People like Bonobo are really pioneering,” says Ninja Tune’s US label head, Jamie Collinson. “He has gotten bigger and bigger, totally organically, without any hype.”
Where OUTLIER really shines, however, is in its events. The brand has a solid presence in Europe where it hosts parties with talent personally chosen by Green. Until this summer, North America was only treated to OUTLIER in person when Bonobo took over the now-shuttered Output in Brooklyn from open to close. But the event hit the road in North America this past June. It is stopping in destinations that are conducive to a summer-y music experience and known for their broad sonic palettes: Montreal, Chicago, Denver, New York, and San Francisco.
The lineups vary slightly from stop to stop, with the underscoring theme being DJs who are both experienced and eclectic. As a brand, OUTLIER follows its creator’s ethos: You can find it on BBC Radio 1 where Green hosts the Wind Down program on a monthly basis. On occasion you can find the two-hour OUTLIER show on the musically adventurous and exploratory NTS Radio. The Bonobo Presents OUTLIER Radio playlist on Spotify, updated by Green himself, is mind-melting in its far-reaching selections.
It’s always about quality rather than quantity, but the San Francisco date at the Midway, which starts at 2pm and ends at 10pm, has the most stacked bill. The Midway will be hosting the OUTLIER block party outdoors with street closures surrounding its scenic location. While none of the talent is local, Green has chosen an exceptional array of DJs for this stop.
The legendary DJ Harvey, a particular favorite of the Bay Area who adopted him long before he became a California resident, is sure to feature some unexpected songs dropped into his disco-flecked set. Joining Harvey from Los Angeles will be the Grammy-nominated First Lady of Brainfeeder Tokimonsta with her thoughtful selections, and defunct Low End Theory regular Nosaj Thing with his beats-driven choices.
New York-based Quantic brings his Latin-fused funk and fellow Ninja Tune/Counter Records artist Chrome Sparks complements that with his indie electronics. UK-by-way-of-Canada Digital Soundgirl B. Traits comes through with her expansive knowledge alongside Catching Flies, whose smooth electronics on his recently released, well-received album have been compared to Bonobo.
Bonobo himself is at the top of the bill, culminating the daytime-into-late-evening party into a positive pool of good feelings. Says Harvey of the upcoming event, “I’ve been aware of Bonobo’s productions, but this is my first time playing with him. I have a nice following in San Francisco and judging by the response, they’re as excited as I am for this diverse lineup.”
Los Angeles-based writer/teacher Lily Moayeri has been writing about music since 1992. Over the years her scope has widened to include the occasional article on television, art, fashion, and random elements of pop culture. You can find Lily’s writings aggregated on her work-in-progress blog, named after the Who song. Twitter: @PicsOfLilyBlog