“I’ve never been a fan of making 60 beats in one night”: DJ Shadow prefers quality over quantity

“I respect it, but I can’t even fathom what that might be like.”

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DJ Shadow on Zane Lowe's Apple Music show

DJ Shadow on Zane Lowe’s Apple Music show | Credit: Apple Music

Hip-hop producer DJ Shadow has revealed he prefers to “exhaust every avenue” when making a beat, as opposed to “making 60 beats in one night”.

He made the statement during a recent interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1. In the chat, DJ Shadow – real name Joshua Davis – talks about his work ethic, self-acceptance, influences for his new album, Action Adventure, past releases the importance of failing before you can succeed.

DJ Shadow, born in 1972, is an influential American DJ and music producer. Renowned for his groundbreaking instrumental hip-hop and electronic music, he gained fame with his 1996 debut album, Endtroducing……

Davis says its quality, not quantity, that gets the best results: “I’ve never been a fan of like, ‘oh, I did 60 beats last night’. It’s just… I respect it, but I don’t even know what that’s like. I can’t even fathom what that might be like.

“For me, it’s always had to be very deliberate and I’ve only ever been comfortable putting music out that I feel like, okay, I exhausted every avenue I went down, every failed closed road or whatever, and to get where I’m at, and that’s when I feel like, okay, if I’m asking people to spend their time to invest themselves in this music I have to know that I’ve done everything I can. That’s just the only way I feel comfortable doing it.

“There are some days,” he continues, “that I have a sign to work, and I mean, that’s sacred time and you want to honor it, but there’s sometimes you get down there. I mean, I always say down there because my studio’s underneath our house and for whatever reason, it’s just not coming. I’m not connecting to that frequency that I’m searching for. And so in those times, what I try to do is stay busy doing the type of thing like cleaning up all the pops and clicks out of a sample just by ear, doing it the hard way second by second by second. Just getting it as clean as I can because then at least I feel like, ‘okay, if I’m not able to do the higher work today, at least I can set the stage and get everything situated so that, when I am ready to go in, it’s there for me and I can do it.’”

Also in the interview, Shadow discusses the importance of constantly evolving and learning in his music career. He talks about trusting his own learning and the value of drawing inspiration from outside influences rather than following current trends. He also reflects on accepting himself and being a hip-hop fan without seeking validation from others.

Dacis goes on to share insights into the state of music criticism and how critiques of his music have affected him. He emphasizes the need to protect the fan inside him while contributing genuinely to the industry. Additionally, he delves into his songwriting process and the challenges he faces in creating music.

DJ Shadow also highlights the significance of learning from failure and his reflections on past releases. He concludes by discussing the freedom he finds in no longer needing external validation for his music, emphasizing the importance of his relationship with music itself.

You can watch Zane Lowe’s interview with DJ Shadow via Apple Music.


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