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DJ Shadow

DJ Shadow
DJ Shadow in 2007
Background information
Birth name Joshua Paul Davis
Also known as Josh Davis
Born (1972-06-29) June 29, 1972
San Jose, California, United States
Origin Davis, California, U.S.
Genres Hip hop, electronica, trip hop, instrumental hip hop, turntablism, plunderphonics
Occupation(s) Producer, DJ, musician
Instruments Keyboards, turntables, sampler, synthesizer
Years active 1989–present
Labels Mo'Wax, Quannum Projects, Solesides, MCA, Universal, Verve, Liquid Amber
Associated acts UNKLE, The Quannum Collective, Cut Chemist
Website .comdjshadow

Joshua Paul "Josh" Davis (born June 29, 1972),[1][2] better known by his stage name DJ Shadow, is an American music producer and DJ. He is a prominent figure in the development of instrumental hip hop and first gained notice with the release of his highly acclaimed debut album Endtroducing...... He has an exceptionally large personal record collection, with over 60,000 records.[3]


  • History 1
    • Early years 1.1
    • Endtroducing..... 1.2
    • Preemptive Strike 1.3
    • Dark Days 1.4
    • The Private Press 1.5
    • In Tune and on Time 1.6
    • The Outsider 1.7
    • Diminishing Returns 1.8
    • The Less You Know, the Better 1.9
    • Liquid Amber 1.10
  • Studio and equipment 2
  • Sampling 3
  • Discography 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Early years

DJ Shadow was experimenting with a four-track recorder while in high school in Davis, California, and began his music career as a disc jockey for the University of California, Davis campus radio station KDVS.[4][5] During this period he was significant in developing the experimental hip hop style associated with the London-based Mo' Wax record label. His early singles, 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. Andy Pemberton, a music journalist writing for Mixmag, coined the term "trip hop" in June 1994 to describe Shadow's "In/Flux" single and similar tracks being spun in London clubs at the time.[6] Though his music is hard to categorize, his early contributions were certainly important for alternative hip hop. He has cited 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.

During 1991-1992, DJ Shadow remixes were released on scratching and production work to Sleeping with the Enemy, the controversial second release by rapper Paris.

Early in 1993, Shadow was a part of the creation of the Solesides underground hip-hop label, in conjunction with Blackalicious and Lyrics Born (whose stage name at the time was Asia Born). The first 12" release on this new imprint was titled "Entropy",[8] with the A-side containing the Asia Born track "Send Them" and a dub rendition of the DJ Shadow track "Count and Estimate", and the entire B-side consisting of the 17-plus-minute title track. Rapper Gift of Gab is featured in the version of "Count and Estimate" that appears in Entropy. Shadow continued to participate in releases on the Solesides label for years to come, until the label was disbanded in 1996 in favour of Quannum Projects.

Also in 1993, Mo' Wax's James Lavelle contacted Shadow about releasing "In/Flux" on the fledgling imprint. The association with Mo' Wax was a productive one; his tracks "In/Flux" and "Lost and Found" made their way onto a number of releases over the next few years. Shadow also worked with DJ Krush during this period. On a 1995 visit to the Mo' Wax studios in London, England, Shadow was recruited to perform scratches on a James Lavelle and Tim Goldsworthy mix of the Massive Attack song Karmacoma.[9]


Shadow's first full-length work, Endtroducing....., was released in late 1996 to critical acclaim. Endtroducing would go on to make the Guinness World Records book for "First Completely Sampled Album" in 2001.[10] The only pieces of equipment Shadow used to produce the album were 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.[11] In November 2014, automobile maker Chevrolet used a sample of DJ Shadow's "Building Steam With a Grain of Salt" in a Chevy commercial.[12]

Preemptive Strike

In 1998 Shadow released Preemptive Strike, a compilation of early singles. Later that year, he produced Psyence Fiction, the debut album by Unkle, a long-time Mo' Wax production team that featured guest appearances including Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Richard Ashcroft (The Verve), Mike D (Beastie Boys), Kool G. Rap, and Jason Newsted (Metallica), among others.

Dark Days

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 has six award wins in various competitions.[13]

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. The album was mixed by Jim Abbiss.

In Tune and on Time

In 2004, Shadow's first feature-length DVD, In Tune and on Time, was released. It features a live performance in London that emphasizes visuals.

The Outsider

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."[14][15] 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, an alter ego of 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.

Diminishing Returns

Diminishing Returns was a 2-hour DJ Mix originally broadcast on BBC Radio 1 on March 29, 2003. It was released in 2003 on CD in a pressing limited to 1000 copies on the Reconstruction Productions label.[16] Reconstruction Productions reissued the album in 2009 with a sticker stating "official, last chance limited edition, re-release".[17]

The Less You Know, the Better

During Shadow's Outsider 2007 tour, he was spotted filming with 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, Shadow announced that he was working on new music. Though no release date was given, he assured, "It will sound different from the last one."[18] DJ Shadow released a track from the new album called "Def Surrounds Us" as a preview. While on the 2010 "Shadowsphere" tour new songs began to emerge, although he stated that a new album was not yet ready and that he would continue working toward having it ready in time for his 2011 tour.

On May 10, 2011, Shadow confirmed via his Facebook page and official website that his new album, titled The Less You Know, the Better, was finished and that it would be released the following September on Verve/Universal.[19] The same day, he also released an EP called I Gotta Rokk featuring remixed tracks from the forthcoming album. A second single "I'm Excited" was also released, featuring Afrikan Boy, on July 29, 2011. However the single was pulled because of copyright infringement.[20] The infringement also delayed the album's release. Another song from the album, titled "Warning Call," featuring Tom Vek, was released on 7 September 2011, and was featured as a free download on the official DJ Shadow Facebook page. Shadow announced on September 30, 2011 via Twitter that The Less You Know, the Better would be released on a 3xUSB format.

The artwork for this album, the associated singles and promotional material was done by Tony Papesh, an artist from San Francisco, California.[21] The album was mixed by Jim Abbiss.

Liquid Amber

On August 12, 2014, Shadow launced his new record label imprint Liquid Amber, releasing The Liquid Amber EP for streaming in accompaniment.[22] Other acts signed to Liquid Amber include Bleep Bloop and Ruckazoid.

In April 2015, a mysterious group called Nite School Klik released a single called "Posse" on Liquid Amber. In May 2015, Shadow revealed to Billboard that the group was in fact himself and trap producer G Jones working together.[23] The first self-titled EP by Nite School Klik was released on June 9, 2015.

Studio and equipment

The book

DJ Shadow discography at Discogs

  • Official website
  • Quannum Projects
  • Solesides
  • DJ Shadow on Volumeet
  • DJ Shadow on Soundcloud

External links

  • Arnold, Eric K. (2006-09-13). "Out of the Shadow".  
  • Wilder, Eliot (2005). 33⅓ Endtroducing... London: Continuum.  
  1. ^ Discogs Profile
  2. ^ Family Tree Legends Joshua P. Davis
  3. ^ "DJ Shadow: Endtroducing…". Sleevage. 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  4. ^ "DJ Shadow Bio, Music, News & Shows". Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  5. ^ "DJ Shadow biography at Davis, CA wiki page". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Pemberton, Andy (June 1994). "Trip Hop". Mixmag. 
  7. ^ "Various - BASIC Beats Sampler". 
  8. ^ "DJ Shadow / Asia Born: Entropy". 
  9. ^ "Massive Attack: Karmacoma". 
  10. ^ "Guinness World Records Entry". Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "The All-TIME 100 Albums". Time. 16 November 2006. 
  12. ^ Chris DeVille (November 17, 2014). "I Watch DJ Shadow Soundtrack A Chevy Ad". 
  13. ^ Dark Days (2000) - Awards
  14. ^ Shadow's Digest, August 3rd, 2006
  15. ^ , September 13, 2006SF Weekly"Out of the Shadow", Interview with Eric K. Arnold,
  16. ^ "DJ Shadow - Diminishing Returns Party Pak (CD) at Discogs". 2003-03-29. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  17. ^ "DJ Shadow - Diminishing Returns (CD) at Discogs". Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  18. ^ "News". DJ Shadow. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  19. ^ "I Gotta Rokk EP". DJ Shadow. 2011-05-10. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  20. ^ Aug 30, 2011 (2011-08-30). "I'm Excited EP - Currently Unavailable". DJ Shadow. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  21. ^ "Tony Papesh - Google+ - Just noticed that the second single from DJ Shadow is‌". 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  22. ^ Gordon, Jeremy (August 12, 2014). "DJ Shadow Releases Liquid Amber EP for Free Download".  
  23. ^ Medved, Matt (21 May 2015). "DJ Shadow & G Jones Unveil Secret Nite School Klik Project: Exclusive Interview & Premiere". Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  24. ^ a b c d e f Raph, 2005, Behind the Beat: Hip Hop Home Studios, Gingko Press, p. 61.
  25. ^ "DJ Shadow".  



DJ Shadow's reputation is largely built on the skill with which he manipulates samples, taking rare and unheard pieces of music and reworking them into parts and phrases for his songs. Many of his tracks feature dozens of samples from a wide array of styles and influences including rock, soul, funk, experimental, electronic and jazz. Shadow famously sampled American composer David Axelrod twice: the piano in "Midnight In A Perfect World" from 1996's Endtroducing was originally recorded for Axelrod's "The Human Abstract"; and on his collaboration with DJ Krush, "Duality", sampling Axelrod's "The Warnings" (Part 1). Although Shadow currently uses fewer samples than on his earlier albums, several examples feature on 2006 album, The Outsider. His collaboration with David Banner, "Seein' Thangs", features a synthesizer and vocals from Cecilia's "Crimson Red" and "Outsider Intro" includes an excerpt from Ron Geesin's "Concrete Line Up" from the 1973 album, As He Stands.[25]


[24]".ADAT and an AKAI MPC60 was "created on an Endtroducing His album [24]

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