I was on the road for two years around my album ‘The Mountain Will Fall’ (2016) and follow-up EP ‘The Mountain Has Fallen’ (2017), so I'm taking this time to work on new music, reconnect and answer some questions.

I just released a live album / video performance of the tour called ‘Live In Manchester: The Mountain Has Fallen Tour,’ which is available on vinyl and CD/DVD here. I also recently launched a podcast called ‘Find, Share, Rewind’ that you can find all on Apple Podcasts and wherever else you listen.

So, fire away. Ask me anything,

- DJ Shadow

Proof: https://twitter.com/djshadow/status/1024348810183692288

Update (12:50pm PT): Hi everyone, thanks for your questions, sorry I couldn't get to them all...I'm signing off now. I'm going to be in the studio making music the rest of this year, but hope to be back on the road in 2019, stay tuned and see you out there!

Comments: 1239 • Responses: 51  • Date: 

TheClayrooAtWork824 karma

Organ Donor is what really got me into your stuff, love your work!

My question, a lob ball: Despite your own fame, who did you work with that still kind of made you starstruck?

DJShadow_Official808 karma

Thank you!

I'm a genuine fan of everyone I've worked with, but I'm not sure if "starstruck" would be the best word...that's something that only happens the first one or two times you encounter someone you really look up to. I remember being "starstruck" when I first met MC Serch and KRS-1 at a college radio conference in '91

Mr_Spreadsheetz814 karma

Would you change anything about Entroducing, looking back 22 years later?

I hope you have a nice day.

DJShadow_Official2046 karma

Good question, thanks.

No, I don't think so. Not because I think it's perfect, but just because I think you have to let things be. After a while "art" (to the extent that what I do is art) becomes ingrained in the lives of other people than myself, and I think it's disrespectful to the public to alter their experiences that they have had with the subject matter by changing it. I respect George Lucas enormously, but I think the Star Wars reissues with the "updated" effects etc was a good example of what NOT to do with a treasured piece of art

minxybird799 karma

Please settle a bet for me. I pitched you for composing the soundtrack for a new tv series for a major television network in the U.S. that will eventually be on demand as well. The Executive Producer who is a fan of your music also brought up the idea with the team but they nixed the idea because they thought dealing with a DJ would be a licensing nightmare when it comes to sampling. But I believe you can compose soundtracks entirely without sampling, correct? I really want to be right on this one, and know you would like to do more composing/soundtrack work. Appreciate all that you do.

DJShadow_Official1455 karma

Wow, thanks for thinking of me!

Yes, I do make music without samples. There have been several such examples on my last couple of albums. I actually recently composed a 100% orchestral piece as a challenge to myself. I think it's important to constantly evolve and never solely exist in anyone's preconceived box. DJ's get that a lot...

Brown_Sandals499 karma

How was working with El-P and Killer Mike on "Nobody Speak"? I saw them live a while back and once that song came on, the whole place went nuts.

DJShadow_Official514 karma

Nice, yeah I've known El for over 20 years, professionally at least...and have obviously been a fan at least that long...we recorded the track right before Christmas in 2015, it's just one of those things where as a producer, I only wanted them, no one else, I just had a feeling that the song was going to connect with people. Super grateful for their dedication to the track and continued support

nachoe205481 karma

How do you feel about scratching being less prominent in beat music as the years go on?

DJShadow_Official1012 karma

Good question. I just think that certain aesthetics begin to sound tired if not used in new interesting ways. I would say that sound design, in some ways, is the new turntablism in terms of messing with people's ears. I still like to throw it in occasionally as an homage to what I grew up on, but it does become difficult to say something new...although it could also just be that I'm not nearly good enough to push the envelope

DJShadow_Official473 karma

Hi everyone, thanks for your questions, sorry I couldn't get to them all...I'm signing off now.

I'm going to be in the studio making music the rest of this year, but hope to be back on the road in 2019, stay tuned and see you out there!

DJJohnnyQuest255 karma


Huge fan. Thanks for doing this.

What are you using to produce music these days? Are you using a DAW or hardware or combination of the two? Does the 3000 still see any use? Also, what happened with purchasing Music Exchange is KC? Rumor was you were trying to buy it at one point.

DJShadow_Official368 karma


I primarily use Ableton Live to make music now. I've gone on record in recent years to describe it as a very intuitive instrument, at least for myself and the way my mind works.

RunDNA227 karma

You memorably used some Twin Peaks samples on Endtroducing, so I assume you are a fan of the show.

So what did you think of the recent Twin Peaks: The Return series?

DJShadow_Official286 karma

I honestly still haven't seen it!! I've been saving it for the right time...have heard good things though

Tezemery178 karma

If you could make a full album with any rapper who would it be?

DJShadow_Official231 karma

Great question. Let me marinate on that and come back to you if I think of a good response.

interruptedverse159 karma

Do you find yourself starting work with a clear intention? Or do things take form more instinctually? When working with samples, I find that I'm sometimes at the mercy of the tone of the source material, then later on the alchemy of the pieces I've juxtaposed. Are you able to sit down and say "this one is going to be moody and nocturnal" or "this one is going to be more aggressive"?

DJShadow_Official272 karma

I can tell you make music!

I often begin with the thought of, "this is going to be this type of track, with this type of emotion," but if things deviate, I go with it as long as it's some place interesting. I think it's a bad idea to try to put the creative process in a strangle-hold. Bottom line is, I don't like to repeat myself, or be in "auto-pilot mode," so anything I can do to shake things up or experiment, I try to do. And then other times, the songs write themselves, and you stay out of the way

NoBodyAfraidOfGoons153 karma

What is your grail record?

DJShadow_Official352 karma

I don't really think in terms of value, but I recently gave someone the most expensive record I ever bought as a gift...and also as a way of testing myself, to see if I could release the hold that collecting can have on a person. It was a weird, liberating feeling. I still love collecting though, and am still actively doing so.

Dugashusse139 karma

What’s that crazy norwegian sample in ’Let’s Get it (Bass Bass Bass)’?? It’s driving me crazy!

DJShadow_Official229 karma

Ha ha, I honestly don't remember. I remember being really excited to play that track out in Norway and expected the crowd to totally respond but it was just like a collective ??? ha ha

mexicansauce_135 karma

Hey DJ Shadow! I really admire you a lot. I formed a band with a friend called Plastic Machine and you have inspired us a lot. Our biggest project so far is a tribute to you. With it, we wanted to thank you for your music. Could you please watch it and make our dream come true?


DJShadow_Official143 karma

Cool man, I'll check it once I wrap up here!

mistaaT125 karma

Many many thanks for The Renegades of Rhythm tour! I - and everyone else it seemed - was in awe at the speed that you and Cut Chemist worked.

How challenging were those sets? Were you maxed out, or able to enjoy the flow?

DJShadow_Official157 karma

Thanks for the question!

The sets were both challenging and fun. It was great to work with vinyl again, especially THOSE records. The whole thing was such an honor and felt so core to Cut and my hip-hop roots that I really don't remember feeling any stress or angst. We laughed at our mistakes, took pride when it went right, and generally enjoyed every minute of it

candycabinet113 karma

On the Deluxe edition of Endtroducing, the live set in Oxford ends with a very beautiful, relaxing and kind of haunting track that fades in after "Midnight in a Perfect World." What is this track, was it ever released in full form anywhere? Would love to hear it in its entirety without the announcers speaking over it.

DJShadow_Official156 karma

Cool question, to my memory, that was just a sample that I put over the drums from Midnight and pressed up on wax for that tour. Because I was supporting Radiohead on their tour of the UK, I wanted to have as many little things to play with as possible

PBborn101 karma

In your car crash song theres a quote "I have not betrayed your ideals, your ideals betrayed you" do you remember where you pulled that from? That shit changed the way I thought about life when I was a teenager, and I think its something thats made my life better. Heres the track and its queued up to the quote

And also

This isnt a question, but not only has your music been something ive listened to for 15 20 years, I had a great accident going to see you in a tent when everyone else was waiting for dre and snoop. I wound up in a tent where modeselektor was playing and Id never heard him before. I love, and respect what you do with records to make your music, but at the same time you showed me the importance of "digging". So as much as I love dozens of your songs easy, I think that philosophy to not become stagnant in what I listen to is the best thing I've taken from you. And it lead to me seeing thom yorke perform "shipwrecked" feet away from me. I started getting out to a lot more shows after that, ended watching you twice the next time you came out to coachella and that shit was insane.

DJShadow_Official177 karma


The line is actually, "YOU have not betrayed your ideals," not "I," but yeah. It's a sample from an artist named Marc Z. The sample was impossible to clear, and then after the album came out a relative of his (I think a nephew?) heard it and said, "Hey, I think that's uncle Marc!" and we were able to clear it after the fact. I think it's a great vocal, and I'm glad if affected you, that was definitely the intent!

happykate41595 karma

I saw you at Brixton Academy many years ago and it blew my mind! Can't wait for the new album.

Silly question, maybe. How and why did you come up with the name Shadow?

Just wanted to say hello, and thanks for doing what you do :)

DJShadow_Official417 karma

Thanks for the question!

It might be a bit hard to rewind time this far and have it make any sense to anyone under 40, but I'll try...

Historically in hip-hop, or at least from the Run DMC period forward, DJs retained a kind of mysterious, man-in-the-back position while the MCs hogged the spotlight. The idea of working the levers behind the scenes appealed to me, and made me want to be a DJ. Then around 1989, I noticed more DJs and producers stepping out of the shadow (so to speak) and release albums where they were the focus. While I understood and respected their desire to get recognition, I didn't agree with the idea of drawing attention to oneself...so I adopted the name "Shadow" to reflect my personal philosophy about how I wanted to position myself as a creative. Hope that makes sense!

stuwoo80 karma

Why did you decide to leave Unkle ?

DJShadow_Official187 karma

Unkle was James and Tim, James asked me to produce some tracks and then asked me to produce the whole thing, and Tim left. For me, Unkle was only ever a one-album project

Bishop_G74 karma

Huge fan of your work, my question is how do you want to be remembered as an artist and as a person?

DJShadow_Official302 karma

As a music lover and a good human being

revolutionbaby67 karma

Sorry, not a very original question but I wonder, I've been listening to your music for ages. How old are you?

DJShadow_Official178 karma

I'm 46. I started playing around with scratching in 1984 and put out my first single in 1991

MisterGuyIncognito63 karma

It's an honor to be able to ask you a question!

When I saw you do the Shadowsphere tour, I was delighted with the amount of drum & bass that you incorporated into the set. Are you a big d&b fan? What are some producers from that genre that you listen to?

DJShadow_Official140 karma

Hi, well I have a particular relationship with dnb, I was spending a lot of time in London as the music began to emerge in the early '90s. I'll never forget the first time I heard it coming out of a car, it stopped me in my tracks. I toured with Peshay in 1994 and 1995 and gained an appreciation for the style of DJing in the scene. I've always continued to listen here and there and see where the music is going, and try to incorporate it here and there. To me, music is an additive experience, as opposed to an "add and subtract" experience. Everything that I've learned is retained for later use, not thrown away in favor of whatever's in vogue.

trecearq61 karma

Hola shadow.

Do you usually look for roots in foreign music? I just returned from Cusco Perú and felt into the spoken rhithims with percussion and a fusion of rock. So, are you interesed in coming to another cultures and mix their sounds ?

Get a touch with Traffic Sound, my favorite band in Perú. Im sure it will inspire you to come Please. Let me know

DJShadow_Official147 karma

Hi, yes, I am always exploring music from around the world. I am of course familiar with Traffic Sound, and would love to play in Peru more often!

Recently I happened across a stash of records I bought the first time I went to Thailand, and have been listening to Vietnamese music as well...the world is too vast to limit yourself to any one genre or region

uberdepression59 karma

Hey man, your music used to guide me as a kid during my dxm trips! Anyway what’s your most nostaligc moment from early 2000’s? Cheers!

DJShadow_Official95 karma

When I think of the early 2000s, I always think about the tours we as Quannum used to do of the UK and Europe...it was a lot of fun. Also working on The Private Press. I put everything I had into that album, and while I felt I grew as an artist, I also found it frustrating that I couldn't express or achieve more

unripefruit54 karma

Hey Shadow! Did you ever consider dropping the “DJ” part of your name? If so, why did you ultimately decide to keep it?

DJShadow_Official165 karma

Good question!

It became fashionable around 1991 for everyone to drop "MC" and "DJ" from their name...Hammer, for example. To me, that seemed to represent shedding your roots in favor of mainstream acceptance. So for that reason, no, I have never really considered it. Plus, being a DJ is at the core of everything I do.

20000Fish53 karma

Been a huge fan of yours for a while now, even saw you perform a few times (one time in that giant spinning orb thing, it was super rad). You're a legend, my man.

I make music too from time to time, but my biggest problem is not being able to "finish" projects, I just have stuff lying around for years that slowly gets plucked at 'till I either lose interest or call it done. Do you experience anything similar? And do you have any tips on getting past that "writer's block"?

DJShadow_Official151 karma

Hi, thank you!

My best advice is to remember that the world needs music, and to be able to give it is a gift. It may not be perfect, but it's your gift to give, and people like me need inspiration from others to be able to create. So it's like a communal resource that we all share

tapzot45 karma

What songs are you tired of playing/hearing? (if any)

DJShadow_Official120 karma


But that's what made me want to be a DJ in the first place, to redirect people's attention to the unheard and underappreciated

PhilosoPedro45 karma

Do you still shop at the record store that was in the Scratch documentary?

DJShadow_Official99 karma

No, that store is gone. That is to say, the entire block was torn down. The store moved to another location but I don't manage to get over there much these days. It's a little bittersweet for me because the patriarch of the store, Ed, passed away in the late '90s.

ComeGetSwann38 karma

How does someone with 0 musical background get started in producing?

DJShadow_Official120 karma

Hi, good question.

No one in my family had any musical inclination, although the family record collection was diverse, which was the spark for me. I would say to just play around with available music-making software and see what happens. Chances are that you're a fan of someone out there, start off by seeing how close you can come to copying their sound, and then once you feel like you've got them figured out, start trying to inject your own personality and ideas into the blend. That's all I ever did when I started. My musical heroes were all the inspiration that I needed

iLL0gik36 karma

Hi Shadow, thanks for being here! I was wondering how has the progress in technology affected your musical process?

DJShadow_Official73 karma

In so many ways! Technology is created to enable humans to accomplish a goal more efficiently or effectively. So naturally, through the years, technology has opened up innumerable avenues for musicians to be creative. Think of the fuzz pedal...the poly-synth...the drum machine...the sampler...the DAW...

At the same time, I have seen peers get "lost" in the gear and manuals and tutorials, to the point where they cease to be productive. So I think it's as always a balance between exploring what's available and just getting on with it.

pandemic_voice36 karma

Hey Shadow! Thanks for taking the time to answer questions!

Endtroducing and The Private Press are some of my favorite albums of all time! What are some of the influences that led to the creation of those albums, and which would you say was the most time-consuming album in your repertoire?

Thank you for your time, and thank you for all of the musical masterpieces you have amazed us with!

DJShadow_Official46 karma

Thank you!

Regarding your second question, in terms of sheer elapsed time, both Endtroducing and the Unkle 'Psyence Fiction' album took the longest...but in terms of raw time spent on the creative process, it's probably between Private Press and my last album, The Mountain Will Fall. The new album I'm working on is no slouch either.

bumble-bee-humble36 karma

I have listened to both In Tune and On Time and Live in Manchester on psilocybin, and felt the music was speaking to me in profound ways. Do you create your sets with the intention for psychedelic experiences?

DJShadow_Official84 karma

Not really, although music is obviously very sympathetic to getting inside oneself and tapping into emotions. That's something that's very compelling to me about music in general

usulsspct31 karma

When are we going to get another 45 mega mix with Cut Chemist?

DJShadow_Official54 karma

It's something I think he and I are always contemplating, but I don't have any timeline for you. Maybe in a few years? We would want to have something new to say and a new way to say it

eganist27 karma

What's the easiest way to get to know you and your work?

I.e. what would you show first to a DJ Shadow novice to win them over as a fan?

DJShadow_Official53 karma

That's kind of hard for me to answer, maybe others on here could offer a more objective opinion? I will say that I put out a "greatest hits" type compilation about 5 years ago that represented my favorites up to that point

TheVillainIsVenemous23 karma

Evening from the UK Josh!

Its MrJONeZ from the old solesides boards here so I gotta ask a question harking back to that era.....

Will there ever be any new music from Quannum? Got any new beats with MCs on them coming our way soon?


DJShadow_Official38 karma

Hey man!

I certainly wouldn't bet against it...some of us still chat regularly, and I'm making beats at the moment, so we'll see...the desire is always there...

untitledd23 karma

Really enjoyed your collab with little dragon. Any plans to do more?

DJShadow_Official28 karma

Possibly! I run into them here and there on tour

KillerRabbitX22 karma

Thank you for taking the time to do this AMA!

I know it's been a long time and I have no idea behind the context of things that happened back then, but...

What are the chances of you and James Lavelle collaborating again?

DJShadow_Official64 karma

Slim...I'm still a fan of James and what he did for me, but I just think we've grown too far apart. Would do anything for him as a brother but music is sacred to me, and I'm pretty careful about protecting that energy

deerheadapparition22 karma

What’s the idea behind your podcast?

DJShadow_Official59 karma

To expose people to interesting music, new and old. Not just obscure stuff (although there is plenty of that), but putting a new context or broader appreciation onto well-known stuff

Skunk2Go21 karma

If you could collaborate with one artist that unfortunately is no longer with us, who would it be?

DJShadow_Official70 karma

Great question, I guess the name that pops up first is James Brown, not because I think I could do anything spectacular for him necessarily, but he's the one artist I wish I could have at least talked to in my lifetime. He was playing at a European festival I was also playing in the late '90s but I couldn't bring myself to approach him at the time. Regrets...

ReasonableAssumption18 karma

Hey Man! My friends and I used to shop at Records Records (that's what we called it at least) on K for years, mostly because of the cover photo from Entroducing... We even got to dig around in the basement, saw the cat, smelled the gas leak. When I was working in a recording/sound design studio, we listened almost exclusively to long-ass live mixes of you and Cut Chemist.

Just wanted to say your music played a big role through my teens/20s. You're the reason I mess with synths and samplers to this day. Thanks for a shitload of great records.

How much of what you do now is still break/loop/sample based?

DJShadow_Official31 karma


There's still new things to be said with samples, and new ways to twist sound. I guess I look at samples as just another possible sound source, as opposed to the be all and end all. For example, if you want a kick drum, you can sample one, or record one live with a session drummer, or take one from a drum machine...it's all sound and what you do with it. For me, sampling is still an integral part of my production, but I've tried to augment it with other disciplines as well.

HotLikeSauce58517 karma

First time I saw you was opening for Bassnectar at Red Rocks 2013. What are your top 3 favorite venues that you have played or want to play?

DJShadow_Official39 karma

Cool! That was a fun gig, memorable for sure!

Cut and I played the Hollywood Bowl, that was a big deal for us...Cut grew up in Hollywood, and I think it was the most nervous I've ever seen him before a gig...

I played last year in a beautiful town in Italy, and they projection-mapped my visuals on the entire town , that was also pretty incredible...I don't know, I've been lucky enough to play so many incredible places and venues

post_apoplectic14 karma

I'll just start off - endtroducing changed my life and forever influenced the type of music i enjoy, so thanks for that.

Was there anything in particular that inspired that record? Were you just fucking around until something perfect just "clicked"? Did you have the music in your mind first, and then sample/produce the tunes until they were just right? I guess i'd just love to hear a little bit more about your process.

DJShadow_Official21 karma

Thank you!

Well Endtroducing was definitely not the first thing I did, there were 5 years' worth of singles and EPs etc that lead to that moment. So I already felt kind of comfortable with the direction I was heading. For me, the real watershed moment in terms of my style at that time was the What Does Your Soul Look Like EP, which essentially was an album that got interrupted and released. (Long story).

LordOfPies13 karma

Hi Josh, I don't know if you remember me but I was the kid that was wearing the "what does your soul look like?" shirt in your NYC mountain will fall show, which was one of my best experiences ever. We shook hands near the end. I have immense respect to your work and many questions.

How many records would you listen to each week when you're looking for samples, inspiration or just leisure.

Do you have a special technique to pick up records? Like the labels for example, what are the leads that you look for?

There are many of your tracks that no one has figured out the samples. For example, the one at the start of what does your soul look like part 2, Redeemed (to name a few)and some parts of find share rewind. I know you said the fun part is figure them out, but would you ever disclose them?

Your music videos are absolutely incredible with amazing cinematographic expertise, I like the ones for the private press like six days and you can't go home again. The ones in YouTube are in very low quality. Do high quality versions exist? How was your input on the music videos? Six Days is a masterpiece, how was working g with Deakins and Wong Kar-Wai?

In one interview you said that in the shadowsphere tour you felt you sacrificed part of the music and replaced it with visuals and showmanship. How do you feel about that now? Do you think visuals can overshadow music?

What do you think of the music and sampling scenes now a days?

And finally, do you have a favourite artist? What artists would you recommend that have matches your style.

I associate many of your songs to what film soundtracks sound like - part of the reason why I pursued film for my career. Your music really moved me and shaped me! Immense respect!

DJShadow_Official35 karma

Hi man, thanks for writing in! I appreciate the kind words...

Regarding "figuring out samples," I'll respond to that briefly...yes, this is something that I love about the music I grew up on, from "The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel" up...that idea that these sounds exist somewhere out there, but what are they? That joy of discovery is a key component that I like to play with in my DJ sets and the music I sample. In the '60s there was a DJ named Mad Mike who played obscure stuff on the radio and people are STILL trying to figure some of his spins out, 50 years later. That's completely awesome to me, something to aim for!

jayw7413 karma

Why is GDMFSOB so damn hard to find?

DJShadow_Official17 karma

Is it? I wasn't aware...

MactionG10 karma

Do you play or have formal training on any traditional instruments?

DJShadow_Official38 karma

I took piano lessons around age 10-12. I didn't enjoy it at the time, but in retrospect it was hugely important and I wish I kept going with it. I suppose I was frustrated because my entire childhood I wanted a drum kit, but my parents weren't having it, ha ha.

ph_wolverine8 karma

Hey Shadow!

Ashes to Oceans is one of my favorite tracks of all time. It captures a flurry of distinct moods in its runtime. Thank you so much for bringing it to life.

Out of curiosity, how much of a role did Matthew Halsall play in the creation of the track (besides the obvious trumpet solo)?

DJShadow_Official13 karma

So glad to hear! It's definitely one of my favorites as well! I love when "deep tracks" like Ashes resonate with people. He and his band recorded some stuff and sent it over as a sample source, meaning that I had their permission to completely mess it up and flip it upside down...which I did...but the trumpet solo and end piano were so beautiful that I left them essentially unchanged. Ironically, the jazzy sounding drums were mine

zombiebait4568 karma

Really love find share rewind on mcr it's such a refreshing listen and it's really helping find some great things. Are you intending to make more long form radio anytime soon?

DJShadow_Official13 karma

Thank you!

Yeah, radio is something I enjoy doing when I have the time and the bandwidth. I have to balance it with my actual career to pay the bills but yes, I imagine it's something that I will always dabble in here and there

keithcody7 karma

Is the Shadowsphere coming back?

DJShadow_Official17 karma

Naw...they (we built two, so that one could be traveling to the next country while touring in another) are gone. Gotta keep it fresh and different

rabidnz6 karma

Thanks for everything! Who is your favourite co conspirator?

DJShadow_Official11 karma

In terms of DJing, it would have to be Cut Chemist, we have a similar nerdy appreciation for hip-hop and a similar sense of humor.

If you're referencing guests on my albums, I guess I'd say that my answer is constantly changing based on what I'm trying to express with my music and based on the musical landscape as a whole. There are many collabs that I'm proud of and were extremely rewarding, it's hard to pick one

SkonySigma6 karma

When can we expect a new album?

DJShadow_Official14 karma

Working on it now. Definitely next year.

Hendo_Jay4 karma

You have called San Antonio, TX a musical inspiration in liner notes (apologies if I am wrong)... can you share why?

Huge fan, thank you for all the music you have shared with us.

DJShadow_Official9 karma

I spent a lot of time there in the mid-late '90s while I was digging for records and reissuing a band's music from SA called "Mickey And The Soul Generation." I enjoyed the city and the people I met there

Voevod4 karma

Huge fan here! How do you stay "current" with your sounds that you create, or do you just do your thing, and not worry about it?

DJShadow_Official12 karma


I definitely think it's important to keep your ears open, otherwise you run the risk of getting stuck in a rut. At the same time, I think it's important to retain your philosophies about music and sound, and what you want to say....otherwise the risk is that you sound self-consciously "current." It's a balancing act for me, but ultimately I'd rather continue to evolve than "keep it real" for the sake of an outdated ideal.