Transcribing the space in between: a chat with Fremantle-based producer Liminal Drifter

Liminal Drifter may be based in Fremantle, but it’s almost impossible to pinpoint his sound to a definitive location. The music of Dr. Simon Order ebbs and flows like a great ocean current, one that will take you to wondrous places if you let it whisk you away.

His latest record, The Dreams, is no exception. After diving into its tracklist for the first time last week, we caught up with Simon to find out more.

liminal drifter the dreams dr. simon order

For Dr. Simon Order aka Liminal Drifter, music is the most essential therapy there is. Dive into the mind of one of Fremantle’s most dream-driven producers.

HAPPY: Hey Simon, how are you? What are you up to at the moment?

SIMON: Morning, at this moment I’m listening to Chloe March’s recent beautiful album Blood-Red Spark and I’ve also been rinsing Digger Rokwell’s A Decade. That’s my ears sorted for a couple of hours. My wife also wants me to say, “I’m building a bassinet for our unborn baby”. Better get that done before B-Day, otherwise big trouble.

HAPPY: You arrived in Australia in 2006 but began releasing music as Liminal Drifter in 2015… what was going on for nine years?

SIMON: Making music is ingrained artistic practice for me. I have to do it regularly. This is all very lovely but you need a pragmatic plan B to pay for school fees etc. My initial plan B was working in the media industry in the UK and then teaching media. I also have a deep belief in the power and value of community radio in our society. Those nine years were spent working on a PhD about community radio and teaching media at University. I was combining my passion for community radio with developing plan B.

HAPPY: What pulled you back into music?

SIMON: About 2011, in the challenging depths of writing a PhD, I started to make music again as simple therapy to balance the study. I needed it big time. Quite a few unreleased tracks came out of those ‘therapy sessions’. I was also sending them to the label, Hidden Shoal, who kindly indulged my early sonic sketches for a few years. Eventually, the label suggested we do something more committed. I signed up with those guys mid-2015 and have been very happy. They are amazing people, such a positive and supportive crew. Super-lovin to all at Hidden Shoal.

HAPPY: And tell me about the initial concept for The Dreams? It’s a very cohesive record, in sound and in concept.

SIMON: I’ve always had a very challenging dream-life, from a very early age, the effects of dreams have been leaking into my waking-life. The Dreams has been a sonic diary of sorts about the character and tone of my dreams. I would often work on tunes very soon after waking, when I was half-asleep and not aware enough to be overly thought-critical about my musical choices. I deliberately didn’t want to make conscious decisions and that is key in the whole Liminal Drifter concept thang. I like to drift in liminal spaces and let the musical ideas percolate of their own accord. Lazy maybe, or trying to push my musical control ego to one side, to make way for the magic.

HAPPY: Did you float any other ideas?

SIMON: Yes, initially I thought the album was about hyper-sensitive people and their ways of coping with the world. It felt a bit negative to walk down that path and I wanted the album to be more positive than that. I think it turned out very chilled and pretty positive but plenty of contrasting and interesting darker currents.

HAPPY: What made you settle on the aquatic theme? Are you referencing any other artists, or something within your own life?

SIMON: I love living in Fremantle. I spend lots of time near the ocean and the river. Large bodies of water calm my inner world. Someone wrote that the album feels like an ‘ode to Fremantle’. I think that sums it up really well. On a more flippant note, I’ve also been learning to swim in the ocean so regular ocean immersion may be leaking into my work.

HAPPY: Could you share your favourite track?

SIMON: At a push, Angels of the Sea or Stranger Things. Angels of the Sea is gentle, caressing electronica that simply makes me feel good about making chilled music and Stranger Things is a driving tune for me. I always get visions of long red-dirt road trips and kangaroos. However, it also has other more obvious Netflix references.

HAPPY: How have you found the initial reaction to the record?

SIMON: So much positive feedback and liminal love coming back! I think it’s a good record but until it’s been in the world a while, you’re never really sure of yourself or the vibe that listeners are getting. So far a very appreciative reaction to the tunes after two weeks in the world. Let it live a little longer in the world and I’ll get back to you with an update.

HAPPY: I really like the name Liminal Drifter. Someone moving amongst the insubstantial. What does the name mean to you?

SIMON: It’s autobiographical to some degree, a way of approaching music making and definitely a nod in the direction of the genre. A triune of useful typology. It does what it says on the tin.

HAPPY: What’s coming up?

SIMON: I’m about to become a father for the first time so that will keep me busy for a while. Very exciting times. I’ve actually started work on the fourth album. There’s a few songs cooking in the LD lab but realistically, a short break in production is likely. There are also plans for a live show with ambitious synaesthetic video work. Again, very exciting. One lifetime and 24 hrs in a day are just not enough. Check out Altered Carbon for where my head is at.

HAPPY: Thanks for the chat!

SIMON: My pleasure. Have an awesome week.


The Dreams is out now.