Exploration and play are at the core of Simon Popp’s creative process. Classically trained in jazz drumming and polyrhythm, the Bavarian-born artist draws from a vast array of percussive instruments to build his expansive sound palette.
Learning the drums and listening to a wide range of genres from a young age instilled in him a ravenous musical curiosity that resonates throughout his various projects: as a solo artist under his own name, his duo projects 9ms or Enji & Popp and as the drummer for Roosevelt or his band Fazer, the group he co-founded with conservatory peers Martin Brugger, Paul Brändle, Matthias Lindermayr, and fellow drummer Sebastian Wolfgruber in 2018.
Informed by personal and spiritual themes, Popp’s debut album Laya, as well as his 2021 follow-up Devi make use of rhythms as storytelling mechanisms, conjuring mythologies like the eponymous Hindu goddess herself. Contrasting light and dark, organic and synthetic sounds, his compositions engage in a dance of subtle complexities, enticing the listener into the practice of close listening.
Throughout Devi, regionally diverse instruments such as singing bowls, balafon and slit drums take flight, floating freely over earth-bound counter rhythms, conjuring up call and response techniques found in religious rituals across Sub-Saharan Africa. This technique favours experimentation over perfectionism, leaving space for happy accidents to unlock new melodic possibilities. According to Popp, “it’s much more interesting to try to push the boundaries of an instrument to see what’s possible.”
Closely affiliated with Munich-based label Squama, who revolve around the axis of contemporary jazz, minimal and ambient influences, Popp’s extensive output through Fazer, 9ms, Abstand and Runden showcase his passion for collaborating across a variety of avant-garde and popular music.
His latest album, forthcoming on Squama later this year, sees Popp delve deeper into this interplay between electronic and organic percussive sounds to new and delightful results.
„ [...] Simon Popp’s Laya is a transcendent work of strange beauty. Its beats are undoubtedly rooted to the earth, iterations of humanity’s shared ritual past, present and future — and yet its staunch minimalism sends it floating to the aether. It’s with masterful precision that Popp invokes sacred music, as well as boundary-pushing work by Philip Glass and Steve Reich.“ bleep.com
"Simon Popp is one of Fazer's drummers. Influenced by percussionist of the east he just did his thing and recorded an album of immense deepness and rhythmical convergence. I'm collecting these obscure drummer solo records for years and then a young men comes along and makes them all sound boring.“ Growing Bin Records
„ [...] The Munich based musician weaves a tapestry of wondroud melodies and percussive elements across a record which is as deep and poetic as it is danceable. " Ramson Note
„Popp's 'Holort' Is A Percussive Workout." Clash Magazine
„ [...] so entsteht eine vielfältige Klangwelt, die ihre Stärke gerade daraus schöpft, dass sie sich zwischen Jazz, Pop oder Weltmusik bewusst nicht klar verortet. Und genau das macht Simon Popp zu einem der derzeit spannendsten Münchner Schlagzeuger." Süddeutsche Zeitung