Eddy’s been away for a few weeks, travelling to various far flung places, but now he’s firmly back on British soil (just about) and comes bearing stories and news.
This week he tells us of his most recent trip away, before moving on to some very exciting news that involves DJ Shadow, The Remix and YOU! What could it be?
REVELATIONS IN RIGA
It’s crazy how shit happens sometimes. I’m writing this in part on a tour bus and in part on a plane on the way back from Riga, Latvia, where Losers were helping celebrate a riotous weekend during which its residents commemorate the foundation of their beloved city, eight hundred and something years ago. We played a packed stadium, 15,000 people, before heading to the gigantic Daugava river that runs through the city centre to witness the sky catching fire with one of the biggest firework displays I’ve ever seen. A truly epic weekend.
The reason this happened was that Tom and I did a Losers mix for a Russian band called Mumiy Troll. Ilya, their singer, liked the mix so much he offered to fly the whole band, plus crew, out here to support them at this amazing gig.
The other support band, Run Run Run, have a similar random-Ilya-connection story, but they’re from LA. Their singer, Xander, is one of the finest Americans I’ve ever met: an American with a Love And Rockets tattoo no less (and a great story to go with it). Any American who’s even aware of a Bauhaus splinter group like that has my admiration, but one that has their logo tattooed on their left wrist has my undying love.
I watched Mumiy Troll with Xander, from the side of the stage, and asked him about the band. He explained, with great authority – having toured with them in the USA and Russia too – why these 15,000 people were so utterly mesmerised.
“When the wall came down, it took the Russians years to figure out what the fuck was going on…” he gesticulated, groping the air. “The first thing they latched onto was grunge – after the event – but the first band that gave them a sense of their own identity was Mumiy Troll, with this one song…”
And as if by magic, the band started playing that very song. “‘Vladivostok’, THIS song, they’re playing it now!” He shouted. “It’s a workers song…” – Xander fisted the air, like a Detroit steel worker would if describing a song about their beloved Steel City, or like Jon McLure would if he was talking about a pivotal Sheffield song – “…about the most industrial place in the former Soviet Union”.
That was the moment I GOT Mumiy Troll. They’d sounded alien to me up till that point. At that moment I watched the lips of every single person in that crowd mouth the words of the song that was the tipping point for one of the biggest bands on this continent, a song that remains a unifying factor with these innumerable countries now the Soviet Union itself has fragmented. I saw the enormous love that this band inspire in their audience and I was truly moved.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Ilya, and Mumiy Troll, for treating us like royalty on this fascinating trip. I’d never been this side of the Baltic before, and never been to any country in the former USSR, and I’m so glad we did that remix for these guys, the random connector that made this crazy weekend happen.
A DJ SHADOW SPECIAL (TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT TO KNOW!)
This wasn’t the only random connection I want to share with you. I had a call earlier this year, in springtime, from DJ Fresh. I’d sent him the almost finished new Losers album and he called to say that it had blown him away, and that one of the tracks (‘Half Built House’) really reminded him of DJ Shadow.
He said: “I’ve been talking to Josh [Shadow] a lot recently, and I think he’ll really like this – I’m going to send it to him”.
“That’s really weird”, I said, as I’d had James Lavelle – the man who’d introduced me and pretty much everyone to DJ Shadow back in the day – call me with a similar positive response just 48 hours previously. Spooky. But it gets spookier; the very same day – I’m not making this up – I was contacted by Island Records:
“We want to talk to you about DJ Shadow”
“What? Have you been talking to DJ Fresh?”
“No, it’s about DJ Shadow’s Greatest Hits album, due out in September – we wanted to ask if you’d consider having him do one of your All Time Top Ten mixes?”
I laughed. The modesty was overwhelming.
“You want to know if I’d give DJ Shadow, the Jimi Hendrix of the sampler, James Lavelle’s greatest signing, a mere ten minutes on my show…? Are you fucking kidding me? HE CAN HAVE THE WHOLE SHOW!”
48 hours later I get an email from a hitherto unknown address, from a sender called “JD”.
“I had Dan (DJ) Fresh send me your album – I really liked it. Then I get a call from my label in the UK talking about you, completely unrelated. There is some kind of crazy planetary alignment happening with you”, he said, rather mystically.
Even crazier, Josh said that if he had time he might remix our track ‘Turn Around’. He’s now so busy that may not happen, but his desire alone, and the fact both he and James Lavelle had been in touch about our record within a matter of days, made all us Losers flush with pride.
So, in this bizarre twist of fate, I started talking to JD about a special on Xfm. But not just a ‘special’ – something REALLY special – something unforgettable.
Josh Davis, though he’s far too humble to admit it himself, has to be one of the most influential artists ever in Electronic Dance Music. I wanted to demonstrate this on the Remix show somehow, to show how far reaching his influence is, and how deep and wide the love for him goes in this amazing community of artists and producers.
So I suggested commissioning some big Shadow fans to make special mixes for the show, using elements from DJ Shadow songs, and putting their own stamp on it, maybe even using artists or sounds by people influenced by him.
My first thought was the most obvious to my eyes: Zane (Josh’s most ardent fan in broadcasting, ever), Culprit One (“The DJ Shadow of Wales”) and DJ Food (the truest reflection of Josh in the UK, in terms of crate-digging, train-spotting, and Pacific-trench-like depth of musical knowledge).
I thought long and hard about who to ask, then made calls and put feelers out. The best mix that’s ever been done in twelve years of The Remix in Xfm was/is (still) by Stereo:Type. I don’t think it’ll ever be bettered. So I had to ask them for one and hoped they were free to do it.
Alex Metric we all know is a fellow Mo Wax junkie, so I had to ask him too, and Irn Mnky did such a good mix of ‘I Gotta Rock’, that I’d been playing recently, so I felt he deserved a shot.
Now I needed someone utterly contemporary, who has their finger on the ever rapid pulse of bass music, someone as comfortable with dubstep as dnb. Two immediately sprang to mind – DJ Fresh and Bare Noize – who I put the call out to with fingers crossed.
There were a few more on the list, all of whom I ran past Josh first, who took a few out for good reasons, nothing negative, just logistic or for the sake of not coming across as repetitious.
Once feelers had gone out and schedules had been looked at, the battleground changed a little. Alex Metric and DJ Fresh were honoured to be asked but just too busy. Zane was too reverential – DJ Shadow is probably his biggest weakness and after tying himself in knots over it, he felt he “just couldn’t improve on perfection”. But many of the feelers I put out came back with a big fat yes. DJ Food (Strictly Kev to many of us) in his inimitable way, even hit me back with TWO mixes, one made from Shadow beats, and the other from those sublime samples, melodies, intros, and codas before, after, or between the beats.
So, the gold medal winning Team GB for this project reads thus:
DJ Food x2
All done for love, like the best things are: six mixes, all using Shadow music, and all remarkably different. That’s the thing about Shadow, there’s something for everyone there, and people see different things in that great body of work. Of course ‘Organ Grinder’ crops up a lot, but in so many different contexts, and is welcome every time as a breath of fresh air.
So here’s the punchline to all this. We have six incredible mixes, two hours worth, and we have Josh Davis himself for the other two hours. But like I said, I want his to be REALLY special – and that’s where you come in. Yes. YOU.
I’m going to get a question from each one of the producers above, to ask Josh. And I want questions from you too. I want you, as part of the Remix Community, to get involved, hear your names read out to Josh and have your questions answered by the man himself.
My gut feeling is that the best show I’ve ever done in over twelve years on Xfm was that James Lavelle special. To have my favourite remixer ever on The Remix for hours and hours, going so deep into a body of work unparalleled was transcendental to me.
The dotted line from that show to this is obvious. We’re going to try to top the Lavelle show with this Shadow special, and we’ll do it together. 2012 has been such a special, celebratory year, for so many reasons, and doing this show together, is for me, simply priceless.
You can send your questions for DJ Shadow to email@example.com. Don’t hold back. I want serious questions, funny ones, clever ones, stupid ones, and while we can’t answer them all we’ll have a great time trying. Let’s do ourselves proud and help make the deepest, widest, most fascinating show that DJ Shadow has ever done on radio.
My friends I give you: SHADOW DAY – Friday 21 Sep, on Xfm. The album, ‘Reconstructed’, a collection of his finest works, is out on 24 Sep.