The Shapeshifters are a highly successful West London house duo who topped the U.K. singles chart in 2004 with their debut release, "Lola's Theme." The duo produced additional hits such as "Back to Basics" (2005), "Incredible" (2006), and "Sensitivity" (2006), and they also released a series of albums, including DJ mixes such as Shapeshifters Present House Grooves (2004) as well as studio efforts such as Sound Advice (2006). Moreover, the Shapeshifters founded their own independent record label, Nocturnal Groove, yet have partnered with major dance label such as Positiva and Defected and have had their productions licensed internationally. Their remix work includes such high-profile artists as George Michael ("Flawless [Go to the City]," 2004) and Christina Aguilera ("Ain't No Other Man," 2006). The Shapeshifters also made a name for themselves as a DJ tandem, particularly in Ibiza, and also performed on occasion as a live band. The duo is officially billed as Shape:UK in the United States because of a trademark dispute with the Los Angeles-based alternative rap group Shape Shifters.
The Shapeshifters are comprised of Max Reich (born in Sweden) and Simon Marlin (born in England), who originally met in 1996 in Gothenburg, Sweden. At that time, Reich was establishing himself as an up-and-coming techno producer while Marlin was working as an A&R representative for Downboy Recordings. Marlin would later serve as Reich's manager. With a few obscure releases already to his name, Reich made his full-length album debut in 1996 on Millennium Records with Moonstomp; subsequent full-lengths Swedish Workout (1997) and Few Hours Left (1998) were also released on Millennium, along with several accompanying 12" releases. Meanwhile, Reich collaborated with Samuel Malm to produce additional material under a series of monikers, namely Repulsor (Gl++tt, 1996; Double Action, 1997), Barbed Wire (Draatphunk, 1997), Rebound (Outrage, 1997), and Fused (Selected Works, 1997; This Party Sucks!, 1998).
In 1999 Marlin negotiated a major-label contract with Sony for Reich and Malm's Fused project, beginning with a re-release of the This Party Sucks! 12" single. Incorporating vocalist Petra Hallberg into their collaboration, Reich and Malm recorded a full-length album for release on Sony. Titled Audio (2001), the album spawned a trio of singles, "Saving Mary," "Twisted," and "Terror," the latter of which was licensed by Danny Tenaglia for his 2002 mix album Back to Basics, on which it was sequenced as the finale. Meanwhile, Reich began working solo under the moniker Glider, independently releasing Let's Groove on Glider Music in 2001 before signing to Multiply Records for Riding High in 2003. He also began collaborating with Marlin on what would become "Lola's Theme," named after the latter's wife. Realizing that the production had great potential, the duo founded its own label, Nocturnal Groove, and inaugurated it with the release of "Lola's Theme" under the newly coined Shapeshifters moniker.
"Lola's Theme" was released promotionally in 2003 as an instrumental before making its official debut on Nocturnal Groove in 2004 and subsequently being licensed for major-label release by the EMI subsidiary Positiva. Graced with a catchy horn riff sampled from Johnnie Taylor's 1982 hit "What About My Love," "Lola's Theme" was one of the hottest tracks at the 2004 Miami Winter Music Conference and subsequently went straight to number one on the U.K. singles chart during the week of its major-label release. A pair of double-disc DJ mix albums were released in the wake of the Shapeshifters' chart-topping success (Shapeshifters Present House Grooves, 2004; Shapeshifters Present House Grooves, Vol. 2, 2005) and the duo was nominated for a 2004 Brit Award. Meanwhile, Reich collaborated with Carl Ryden as Poker Pets for a 2004 release on Nocturnal Groove, "Lovin' You"; like "Lola's Theme," the track was licensed for major-label release by Positiva.
In 2005 "Back to Basics" was released as the follow-up Shapeshifters single to "Lola's Theme" and became a Top Ten hit in England. A year later came the full-length Shapeshifters debut album, Sound Advice (2006), featuring vocalist Jenna Gibbons, along with three more hit singles, "Incredible" (number 12), "Sensitivity" (number 40), and "If in Doubt Go Out." The album was released in Europe by EMI Records and in the United States by Ultra Records. In 2007 a pair of new Shapeshifters productions, "Pusher" and "New Day," were released as singles on Positiva and became moderate hits, charting respectively at number 52 and 72. In 2008 the Shapeshifters signed to the Defected label and released the Treadstone/Chime single, the B-side of which is a remake of the 1990 Orbital classic. ~ Jason Birchmeier
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