DJ Shadow (born Joshua Davis , 1972) is an American music producer, DJ and songwriter. He is considered a prominent figure in the development of instrumental hip hop and first gained notice with the release of his highly acclaimed debut album Endtroducing....., which was constructed entirely from samples. He has an exceptionally large record collection, with over 60,000 records.
DJ Shadow began his music career as a disc jockey for the University of California, Davis campus radio station KDVS. During this period he was significant in developing the experimental hip hop style associated with the California-based Solesides record label. His early singles for the label, including "In/Flux" and "Lost and Found (S.F.L.)", were genre-bending works of art merging elements of funk, rock, hip hop, ambient, jazz, soul, and used-bin found records. DJ Shadow is often cited as a leading creator of U.S. trip hop. Though his music is hard to categorize, his early contributions were certainly important for alternative hip-hop. He cited groups such as Kurtis Mantronik, Steinski and Prince Paul as influences on his sample-based sound, further claiming that "lyrics ...were confining, too specific". His music rarely features more than short clips of voices or vocal work. He released several original works (during 1991-1992 for Hollywood Records) by the time Mo' Wax's James Lavelle contacted him about releasing "In/Flux" on the fledgling imprint, it wasn't until his distribution association with Mo' Wax that his sound began to mature and cohere. He eventually formed the label Quannum Projects in 1999 out of the previous label Solesides.
Shadow's first full-length work, Endtroducing....., was released in late 1996 to critical acclaim. Endtroducing would make the Guinness World Records book for "First Completely Sampled Album" in 2001. The only pieces of equipment Shadow used to produce the album are the AKAI MPC60 12-bit sampling drum machine, a pair of turntables and a borrowed-by-visiting Pro Tools setup from an early adopter of the technology, Dan "The Automator" Nakamura. In November 2006 Time magazine named it one of its "All-TIME" 100 best albums.
In 1998 Shadow released Preemptive Strike, a compilation of early singles. Later that year, he produced tracks for Psyence Fiction, the debut album by U.N.K.L.E., a long-time Mo' Wax production team that gained superstar guests including Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Richard Ashcroft (The Verve), Mike D (Beastie Boys), Kool G. Rap, Jason Newstead (Metallica) among others.
Around 2000 he produced the score for the documentary Dark Days filmed by British director Marc Singer. This film is about a community of transients who live underground in a subway tunnel. It shows the horrific world of people who have hit rock bottom in their lives. These people live in complete darkness. It has six award wins in various competitions.
The Private Press
Nearly six years after his debut production album, his second album, The Private Press, was released in June 2002. In the same year, the movie Scratch (2001, Doug Pray) was released to DVD with DJ Shadow appearing several times throughout the movie. A video for his track "Six Days" was also released in 2002, directed by Wong Kar-Wai.
In Tune and on Time
In 2004, Shadow's feature length DVD, In Tune and on Time was released. The DVD features a live performance in London, emphasizing visuals. In 2005, Brian Udelhofen began work on the Shadow Percussion Project, an attempt to adapt some of the tracks from Endtroducing... for a live performance group. The result was largely successful and well-received by DJ Shadow himself.
The Outsider album was released on 18 September 2006. A special edition CD box set was also released containing 'The Outsider', the album on CD and a DVD entitled Tour Visuals. The Outsider, which prominently featured several artists from the local San Francisco Bay Area hyphy hip-hop movement, got a mixed welcome among Shadow's fans. Responding to criticisms, the DJ/producer explained on his blog why he made no apologies: "Repeat Endtroducing over and over again? That was never, ever in the game plan. Fuck that. So I think it's time for certain fans to decide if they are fans of the album, or the artist." DJ Shadow has also collaborated with fellow DJ Cut Chemist. Together they have created three popular mixtapes entitled Brainfreeze, Product Placement, and the recent The Hard Sell. These mixes fuse jazz, funk, and soul in the framework of a cohesive concept. He has also collaborated with several other artists, including Blackalicious, Zack de la Rocha, Keak Da Sneak, Mos Def, David Banner, and Dr. Octagon (also known as Kool Keith).
In 2006, he signed a deal with Universal Records. DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist toured in 2008 in support of their mixtape The Hard Sell with Kid Koala opening for them.
During Shadow's Outsider 2007 tour, he was spotted filming with 90's NYU film school prodigy Dean Fernando aka "DINO" as reported on Shadow/Quannum fansite Solesides. On April 1, 2009, DJ Shadow announced on his Facebook page that he was working on a Diminishing Returns re-release. On March 7, 2009, DJ Shadow announced that he was working on new music. Though no release date was given, he assured that "it will sound different from the last one". DJ Shadow is involved with the new Activision game DJ Hero.
Studio and equipment
The book Behind the Beat documents Shadow's home studio (named "Reconstruction") through photos and a brief description (as of 2005). It is "nestled within a leafy San Francisco suburb" and Shadow apparently moved to the area "to be closer to the local record store". It also states that "Shadow only keeps a small selection of vinyl at home with the rest occupying storage units around town". His equipment (as of 2005, according to Behind the Beat) consists of two Akai MPC 3000s and a Korg Triton. His album Endtroducing was "created on an AKAI MPC60 and an A-Dat".