We've both been DJing since 1984, and we make music as well. You might have seen us spinning 45's together in sets like Brainfreeze (1999), Product Placement (2001) or The Hard Sell (2007). We're about to kick off a tour on September 1 called RENEGADES OF RHYTHM, in which we pay homage to Afrika Bambaataa by utilizing his own record collection...we're pretty amped about it.





Alright, that about wraps it up for us...thanks very much for all of your questions, sorry we couldn't get to them all. Next time! See you on the road...(Shadow & Cut)

Comments: 457 • Responses: 40  • Date: 

MutilatedLisp85 karma


DJShadow_Official161 karma

Hey that was a song I worked on for a really long time, I wasn't sure where to take it...really struggled with the low-end on the song...but really, "midnight" represents the soul of Endtroducing for me, it's the oldest song on the album and also the purest expression of what I was trying to get across during that time. The long gestation period and eventual completion felt like a personal victory which allowed the rest of the album to be realized.

NiceLikeThat92 karma

Yo Shadow, it's a masterpiece.

DJShadow_Official66 karma

Thanks very much!

astarkey1230 karma

Hey guys,

Been a fan of you both for a long time and have a few questions:

  • What are the chances you guys team up with Uncle Nu again for another Pushing Buttons performance?

  • Will there be any full-length soundboard recordings made available for sale from the Renegades of Rhythm tour?

  • Can you give us any clues as to what records you chose from Bambaataa's collection for the tour?

  • Shadow, when I saw you back in 2011 with the Identity Fest tour in Indy, you came on at about 10:30 before they threw the switch on your set after maybe 40 minutes. Were you as blindsided by that as the rest of us? Also, where did you get the shirt you're wearing in your Wikipedia page photo? I'm gonna need one of those.

  • One last question: If you were a domestic appliance, what would you be?

Can't wait to see the show when you come through my city - just got my ticket in the mail last week. Good luck with the tour!

DJShadow_Official29 karma

Hey dude, would love to do something with Nu again!! The stuff he and Cut were doing on the recent J5 tour was ridiculous...there may or may not be soundboard recordings, it depends on how the set goes!! Bam's collection is truly amazing...regarding Identity, what can you do, you're just one artist on a calendar of many

ElitistHatPropaganda28 karma

What's Thom Yorke like?

DJShadow_Official42 karma

I haven't seen him in a really long time, but back when I knew him, he was cool...very talented obviously, and very invested in making quality art, which I appreciate

KetchupTiger27 karma

Hey Cut Chemist, whats your favorite piece of work by DJ Shadow?

DJ Shadow, favorite work of Cut Chemist?

Cheers, big fan of the both of you!

DJShadow_Official44 karma

I'm one of Cut's biggest fans...loved his album from a few years back...and his remix of The Number Song is one of my favorite remixes anyone ever did for me

KetchupTiger15 karma

Awesome to hear! I will give it a listen later on after work in your honor! Thanks for replying (and making my day by doing so)!

DJShadow_Official30 karma

You got it KT

hu-man25 karma

If you could pick one record that changed the way you approach dj/production, which would it be and why?

DJShadow_Official40 karma

There are diff tracks for diff eras for me, but I usually single out "Looking At The Front Door" by Main Source as being a singular sample masterpiece upon which I judge my own work.

perestroika1224 karma

As a musician and producer, I'm very interested in how other artists write and produce their music.

What's your general workflow? Do you ever hear a sample and just say "yes, this is it"?

Also, how do you feel about newer software based tools compared to your traditional tools like MPC4000 etc? Do you find yourself picking up the latest toys or sticking with the tried and true?

DJShadow_Official43 karma

Great questions. For me, I wait for something to grab my attention and speak to me on an emotional level. That emotion can be sadness, anger, joy, despair, etc. It can be a sample or really any piece of sound. But once in a while, yes, I find a sample that speaks to me and demands to be flipped.
Regarding tools/toys, I think it's very important to constantly challenge yourself. I'm known as being an MPC guy, but when I started using it, nobody else was. Everyone was using SP12s. I had a good run with MPC's but then started finding myself yearning for new pastures. Same with DJ tools, I embraced CDJ's, Serato, Ableton, etc because it all allowed new ways of expressing yourself as a DJ. Thanks!

jheady19 karma

What does it feel like to be responsible for Afrika Bambaataa's records?

DJShadow_Official27 karma

It's a rare honor, truly. A big responsibility.

djbaconfat17 karma

Josh -

Any chance you can give us any more info on the song from "Diminishing Returns" with the line about being a star on a democratic flag? I've read that it's supposedly by a group called Smiles but surely there's more about it that you can give us, like maybe even posting a picture on your site or something.

Is Cali-Tex still an ongoing concern?

How about Shadow Radio on the website?

DJShadow_Official26 karma

I can tell you're a longtime fan...much appreciated. I will try to tweet a picture of the record you're referring to. It's such a great song. Regarding Cali-Tex, I realized after awhile that I really wasn't in a position to give some of the artists I was releasing the kind of attention they deserved, so I passed most of my projects onto a company I thought was doing a great job: Numero Group out of Chicago. I have had a hand in probably a dozen of their projects over the past 6 or 7 years. Shadow Radio...just another one of those things where once I started touring heavily I wasn't able to dedicate the kind of time I felt it deserved, and I got depressed seeing the same shows up month after month so I pulled the plug. Maybe I will restart it. I miss sharing that stuff with people

TrailOfDawn14 karma

can you tell us any of your thoughts on the "What does your soul look like" series? Inspirations, struggles, anything really.

Thanks both of you for taking the time to do this AMA and all your great work!

DJShadow_Official34 karma

Hmm, when I think of WDYSLL, I think of a long, lonely summer in 1994...I was really trying to work some stuff out personally and musically, and well, you hear the result...WDYSLL is actually my favorite piece of music I've ever made. Thanks!

dcu500113 karma

Shadow and Chemist - so pumped that you guys are doing an AMA. First off, I just want to let you know that you two are some of my all time favorite musicians, and have really opened me up into a completely new world of hip-hop, trip-hop, funk, experimental, and everything in between. I can talk about how amazing your guys' solo and combined works are, but I'll save you the wall of text and all that reading and just tell you that you've both been huge influences to me. I was so hyped when I saw that the Renegades of Rhythm tour was coming my neck of the woods (NYC), but was absolutely devastated when I found out I'll be out of town for work during your shows, so I'm hoping I can get the next best thing and have you answer any of these questions...

  • Shadow - it seems like recently you've been leaning more towards the heavier / electronic music with your All Basses Covered tour and recent remixes you've put out. Do you think your next release(s) will stay along that course, or will it go back to your traditional trip-hoppy roots?

  • And Chemist - why have you only released one full length Cut Chemist album throughout your career as a musician? I've always assumed it is because you're constantly collaborating with so many other groups, but I would love to hear another solo EP coming from your labs.

  • Lastly, as a bedroom DJ/producer that dreams of one day putting out a demo, how would you recommend learning, practicing, and improving while managing a full time job as my actual career?

DJShadow_Official15 karma

Hey thanks for the kind words...regarding your question for me, I've always just tried to make music that felt fresh to me. That was true in 1991, and it's true today. I'm always searching for something that excites me, and try not to worry too much about the rest...as far as your comment about practicing...it's something I struggle to find time for as well but it's important to do

krisstivers12 karma

What are your "holy grail" records? Any that you're still looking for that you don't currently own?

DJShadow_Official27 karma

Hi, I don't really think about records in terms of value or rarity anymore...there's underrated music which is easy to find, and a lot of garbage that goes for money...so ultimately it comes down to the search itself for me, and the music that is discovered by accident or through serendipitous circumstances. But to answer your question directly, yes, there are records I've been looking for for decades that I still don't have

vormov10 karma

I've been a long time fan of you guys since I first heard about you. I am glad to see that guys like you exist and continue to innovate the lost art of the turntable.

Cut: What was it like working in the film industry as a musician? How did that even happen?

Shadow: What is one of your corest inspirations?

Both: What, in your opinion, was Afrika Bambaataa's greatest accopmplishment?

Both: Any chance at midwest shows?

(Btw Cut, I am still in love with that Future Primitive Sound Session with shortkut, even after all this time. Also Brainfreeze...what a monster!)

DJShadow_Official12 karma

I'll try to tackle a few of these...I'd say my core inspiration is ambition. All of my favorite moments in music, from Art Of Noise to Public Enemy to De La Soul, are when it sounds like someone tried really hard to create something that will live forever. As a producer, that's what inspires me. Re: Bam, in my opinion his greatest accomplishment was successfully combating violence and poverty with music. And yes, we're doing some Midwest shows (check the link). Thanks!

kcdrew9 karma

No question. just saying that I am a huge UNKLE fan. Any word on any new records or possibly a tour?

DJShadow_Official20 karma

Hey, hopefully you heard about the reunion show we did in London a couple of months back? Not sure what the future holds, but I'm always hopeful

qsau8 karma

What do you look for when crate digging?

DJShadow_Official21 karma

Anything I've never seen before

colonelchibbers8 karma

Mr. Shadow,

I've been a long-time admirer of your work.

In the public eye, you often seem to be trying to get away from being "the guy who made Entroducing...". Which of your other works would you say are particularly proud of?

Also, this is a very broad question - feel free to answer it however you like - but how has your sample-selecting method changed over time? I'm sure you have some organization techniques for weeding through your enormous LP collection.

DJShadow_Official23 karma

Thanks very much...honestly I'm equally proud of all of my albums...I've never released something that I felt unhappy with. Some albums take longer than others, some seem easier to create at different points in the process, but ultimately nothing comes out until I'm happy. I know that most people associate me with Endtroducing, and that's fine with me (and I'm very proud of it.) But I also have to press forward and continue my own personal development and pursuit of music in all its forms.

OldSchoolIsh8 karma

Hey there,

Short story time, a few year's ago I was having a miserable Friday at Glastonbury festival, it was very very very wet, my boots didn't fit, my feet were killing me, I was very wet, very cold, and a little unhappy. We decided to head to bed and hope that the next day was a bit better. I wanted to pop in and see you in the John Peel tent, so despite protesting feet we headed in to see you. The whole visual audio combination was magnificent, it even got us dancing (which my feet did not forgive me for). Most of all though I wanted to say how much it meant to me personally that you recognised John Peel and how important he was whilst playing the John Peel tent, not enough artists do that I feel.

Anyway,.. thanks for that!

A question.... erm... any more d-d-down with the MPC, Pushing Buttons going to happen again??

Awww Snap... Edit! : Once upon a time you DJ'ed in Heavenly Social in London (Riz and Sizzahandz downstairs that night), you managed to set the tone so perfectly that every time you played in a new record it was exactly the record that should have been played at that moment in that place. It was always the benchmark for great DJing for me. So thanks for that as well :)

DJShadow_Official12 karma

Hi, regarding John Peel: AWESOME. Regarding Pushing Buttons...maybe, but I think people have taken the whole MPC buttons thing about as far as it can go...they're doing stuff now that I could never do...and regarding Heavenly Social, DAMN! You're taking me back! My only memory was that it was a good, up-for-it crowd...thanks!

rerog7 karma

Was there a particular record or records that you were surprised to find in Bambaataas collection? Unreleased/unknown acetates?

DJShadow_Official9 karma

You will be stunned!!! We certainly were...

yungshmoneydance7 karma

Any hopes of Renegades of Rhythm making it overseas to Europe?

DJShadow_Official11 karma

Definitely, most likely in January or February. Bam thought worldwide and we do too

Forgetfulotter6 karma

How do you both feel about where dj'ing is going? Like people using mac books and 100% digital tables?

DJShadow_Official27 karma

In my opinion, good DJ's are good DJ's, whether they're playing vinyl, CD's, or mp3s. On the flip side, no amount of technology is going to make a bad DJ good. Just my 2 cents

Sethellonfire5 karma

Looking forward to see the Bambaataa homage. Are there any plans for the tour to hit Nashville? (plan on seeing it in Atlanta anyway)

Also, can we get some Napalm Metrorail Scatter through Brain Space or The Six Day Garden War?

DJShadow_Official9 karma

Hey thanks for the question. I'll put it this way, Bambaataa had a few of our records in his collection, so those are the one's we'll be playing! No records outside of Bambaataa's collection will be used... Had a great time last time I played Nashville, hope to come there in November, but in the meantime follow the links to the tour dates, not sure what the closest one would be...

nateboned5 karma

Hey guys!

Just curious as to how you plan out joint-mixes like this? Do you guys actually get to spend much time in the same room together? Or is a lot of it sorted out electronically first (especially now-a-days)?

I really appreciate you both taking the time for this, and will continue to support your work until my last day.

Never stop exploring!!

DJShadow_Official9 karma

When we put these sets together, we're both in the same room surrounded by records. We look for themes to follow, blends that work well, and try to push each other to try things we've never done as DJs. Brainfreeze took about 5 days, Product Placement about 10 days, The Hard Sell like a month. The Renegades set is all we're focusing on between now and September 1st. Since we're using all vinyl, the computers will be off. Thanks for the question!

BeefCentral5 karma

You guys have been producing and performing for a number of years now, all over the planet.

From reading interviews and from your output, it's obvious that you're both music lovers.

I wanted to know, off the top of your head, what are some stand-out performances that you've seen? This may be a paying customer at a gig or someone you've shared a bill with.

Really looking forward to the new tour, I've got my fingers and toes crossed you make it over to the U.K.

DJShadow_Official10 karma

Awesome question. When I toured with Radiohead in England in '97, they played a gig at the (then) Nynex Arena in Manchester. The last song was "Street Spirit," which they dedicated to a fan who had died. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. Very memorable. Best performance I've seen on video is James Brown doing "Mother Popcorn" on a TV show called Music Scene in 1969. The band is locked to a degree that is superhuman. Thanks, and we will def be in the UK early next year!

underling5 karma

If there is any other job in the world you could do... what would it be?

DJShadow_Official16 karma

I think I could really kill television advertising, because I'm repulsed by it and attracted to it in equal measure...I see stuff all the time that makes me cringe (particularly where music is concerned), and occasionally something that really inspires..

HandsomRob5 karma

Hey Josh and Lucas,

First of all a big thanks to both of you for the work that you've made, both individually and together. Albums like 'The Audience's Listening', 'The private Press', 'Product Placement' and 'Brainfreeze' are works of art.

I saw Shadow in Australia a few years ago and it blew my mind. The shadowshpere tour was amazing. I am still yet to see you chemist, but one day i will.

Just wondering if you guys will ever come out with a studio album together? I know its a bit of a long shot, but I think you could make something pretty unique!

Again thank you both for the music and keep at it!

DJShadow_Official12 karma

Re: a collaborative album, hey that's a great idea! Oddly enough, I don't think it's ever been seriously discussed, mainly because I think we both pride ourselves on occupying an individualistic space within the music we love...but personally I would love to try to tackle something like that. Thanks for the question!

Shpongleddd5 karma

Wassup, just wanna say thanks. Yall have brought me so many memories partying to your music and various projects. Had the pleasure of seeing The Hard Sell in I think 2006 in Dallas. REALLY looking forward to Renegades of Rhythm this time around. Make HOB Dallas turn your shit up, they have a tendency to play music quiet in there.

Actually I've got a question for both of you: What has been your favorite place to travel to play music(country, city, or festival)? Why?

DJShadow_Official8 karma

Ha ha ok, we'll be sure to do that! As far as favorite place to play etc, it's tough because some places are great for a period of time and then fall off, and vice versa...but for me, overall, I would have to say the UK. It's where I made my name, and I think my music resonated on a cultural level there that is unique. Thanks for the question!

Yabba_Dabba_Doofus4 karma

Hard to believe I've been enjoying you guys for almost 20 years now! First of all, I enjoy everything you guys have done, and continue to do.

Do you guys have any plans to team up for additional collaborations, in the spirit of Brainfreeze/Product Placement/The Hard Sell?

What was it like to be involved in the movie Scratch? Do you think it was accurate in its depiction of the DJ in hip-hop culture, and/or the music industry overall?

DJShadow_Official14 karma

Hey, you should definitely check out the next tour we're putting together now, called Renegades of Rhythm. All vinyl, using Bambaataa's record collection. Touring the states and Canada next month, rest of the world early next year.
Scratch was cool, when they filmed the segments I was in I had no idea what the movie would become...Q-Bert just called me up and invited me to his house. I didn't even really know anyone was going to be filming. Then later we shot the basement stuff. I think it was an accurate depiction of what was going on at that time, sure

mistaaT3 karma

Shadow - do you feel the 33 1/3 book did a good job detailing your early years? It's a great read (for all fans) and one that I feel I learned a lot about you from.

Also, any current hip hop that has you excited?

DJShadow_Official5 karma

Cool question, I haven't looked at it in years, and I think I only read it once when it came out...I remember feeling like it did a pretty good job, although I also remember feeling that certain subjects got more attention than others, depending on the writer's interests, which is normal and fine...hard to believe that was 10 years ago already!

IdeaHamster2 karma

Other than each other, who were your favorite artists to collaborate with?

DJShadow_Official3 karma

Oof that's a tough one...strictly in terms of the end result, I would have to say Thom Yorke, Divine Styler, Little Dragon, and E40...there are others of course...and of course the Solesides/Quannum guys

imatthewhitecastle2 karma

is there one album that really inspired you to do what you do?

DJShadow_Official10 karma

Just offhand, I don't think I could pick only one, but I can single out Art Of Noise's first, Nation Of Millions, Paul's Boutique, and 3 Feet High & Rising as being very important in my development

dakanektr2 karma

Being long-time contributors to countless genres that have periodically dropped off and resurfaced, what are both of your thoughts on the resurgence of the popularity of electronic music in pop culture? Do you see evidence of ripples of yourselves and the work you have contributed to in the past washing in with the new waves of artists, both mainstream and underground?

DJShadow_Official7 karma

I don't really hear stuff too often that reminds me of me, which I can assure you is a good thing in my opinion...I'm always looking for songs and ideas I could have NEVER conceived of, that's what's inspiring to me...in general I think there's a lot of exciting stuff happening at the moment

krisstivers1 karma

Really enjoy watching Crate Diggers on Fuse. Cut Chemist, you're episode was definitely a personal favorite. Any chance of a DJ Shadow episode?

DJShadow_Official4 karma

No, I'm actually kind of private about digging and collecting. I usually demure from being photographed or filmed with my collection. A little bit early on, but I found I didn't enjoy the experience; it felt invasive. Thanks for the question!

MattBloom1 karma

All time favorite breakbeat? :)

DJShadow_Official9 karma

Funky Drummer by James Brown, followed by Apache by The Incredible Bongo Band, followed by Synthetic Substitution by Melvin Bliss

littlecrazygirl1 karma

Whats the main difference between DJing now and back when you both started? <3

DJShadow_Official6 karma

When we started in the early 80s, naturally everyone was using vinyl, so there was a level playing field of sorts. DJ's differentiated themselves by playing interesting things no one else had, or by playing big hits first, or by the skills involved. Much of that is still true today, it's just that there's more options for DJ's who want to get started. If you don't keep up, it's easy to get left behind.

jasounited1 karma

Setting up an AMA on Reddit, by you guys, is the best thing that happened to me today. Thank you both for that!

I have a ton of questions, but the two most burning ones are for DJ Shadow, so I will just ask those.

1) Endtroducing is one of my favorite records and Midnight in a perfect world is by far my favorite song on it. Still, I'm puzzled by the Gift of Gab mix of that song. Can you reveal what is behind the mix, how it came to life? It's an inspiring mix, for sure.

2) Having collected some of your records and seen your live performances on on the internet, especially the one from Boiler room, I was really hyped to get to see your gig in Helsinki. While I do understand your willingness to find new music and play temporary records, I still miss the old skool stuff. Do you ever think of going back to the old style and play that kind of music on your gigs? I sure would love to hear that.

DJShadow_Official3 karma

Hi, thanks for the questions! 1) The Gab mix was the result of a day in the studio messing around...I originally thought I wanted Gab to rap on Midnight, but when I heard what he wrote I thought it would sound better if he spoke it instead. So I arranged something for him to be able to do that. Just a cool little b-side :) 2) Every time I play, I'm doing something different...I had just done the Shadowsphere tour worldwide a few times, for like 2 years straight, and so I wanted to change it up. If I'm not inspired and having fun, I don't want to play, so I'm always doing something different. But sure, I'll always return to 'the classics' here and there. Thanks!

ngharo1 karma

Shadow - My favorite album ever is Diminishing Returns, specifically Part 2. The variety is really outstanding and flow so beautifully together.

I've been trying to find the sources to no avail. Do you know where I can find more information on the artists sampled?

DJShadow_Official6 karma

Thanks! I haven't looked personally, but I would think Discogs.com should have this fairly well covered...there's a few 'secret' tunes I threw in there I don't think people have identified yet, which I think is part of the fun ;)

dinosynth1 karma

Lately, do you find yourselves sampling from sources that aren't albums in the basement of old record stores, but are instead modern sources, such as Youtube? Or do you think there's a 'purity' to those hard-to-find samples.

DJShadow_Official5 karma

Personally, I've used stuff from everywhere, including the internet, but if you're talking about break beats, I prefer to find them on my own in the traditional way. Thanks!

LayOnTheLawn1 karma

Hey Shadow! Thanks for stopping by. Entroducing is one of my favorite albums of all time. It's a very big inspiration because I'm also a producer.

How in the hell did you produce What Does Your Soul Look Like pt. 1? I tried to recreate it with the Voice of the Saxophone sample but I can't figure out how the bass was looped so smoothly. Do you by any chance remember?

DJShadow_Official3 karma

Hi, I don't really remember, but back when I used an MPC I used to regularly employ a technique in which parts of the sample fade in and out of each other, so that there's never a perceptible "edit point." Perhaps that's how I did it