8 Questions with DJ Yoda – FRESH PRODUCE This Saturday @ Good Life
After DJ Format killed it last month, we keep the British wave rolling with special guest DJ Yoda for Fresh Produce this Saturday at the Good Life, of course. Ten-plus years since the first volume, his landmark How to Cut and Paste series is still going strong, but these days you’ll find him all over the place, from releasing a solo album last year to recording a concerto for turntable and orchestra. Q Magazine once declared him “one of the ten DJs to see before you die”; we say you can skip the other nine.
Your first How to Cut and Paste (2001) release is regarded as a classic for both technical skills and a sense of humor…what are your thoughts on it looking back over a decade later?
That’s nice to know! I look at the “Cut & Paste” series of mixes as just the natural way that I put music together, and I would be making these mixes for my own pleasure, even if no-one else had any interest. I never listen back to mixes after I’ve finished them, so I literally haven’t heard “Vol. 1” for all these years – maybe I need to revisit it! I literally just finished the latest in the series, I’ll reveal the theme of it in the next couple of weeks.
Your most recent album Chop Suey (Get Involved, 2012) features artists from both sides of the Atlantic…are there any inherent differences between rappers from the States and from Europe in the way they work or how you work with them?
I notice massive differences between the way different vocalists work with all these collaborations, but I think it’s more to do with personalities and creative processes rather than where people are from. I can think of rappers from the States and from the UK who have both been massive nightmares! And at the same time, some of my favourite people to work with have been from both sides of the Atlantic.
What kind of reputation does Boston have amongst UK DJs?
I can’t speak for other UK DJs, but for me Boston means great movies and great rappers! I think of people like Ed O.G., 7L & Esoteric, and even Guru. And for some reason some of my favourite movies are set in Boston – The Departed, Good Will Hunting, Ted!
Compared to UK audiences, are Americans more or less open-minded or musically sophisticated? Are audiences pickier about what they want to hear in the States or less?
I find big differences in each city in the States, but in some ways there is one truth that’s universal – that the more obscure cities to play in are always the most fun. I guess because crowds are more appreciative that a guest DJ has made the effort to visit. Big cities have seen it all before!
How valuable would you say your English/American Literature degree from university is in your day-to-day life now?
Ha-ha! Completely useless! It’s not like I get tested on Shakespeare plays or Whitman poems when I’m DJing! No, but seriously – I did get all my practice of DJing in front of crowds at university, because I was resident DJ at a weekly club night there. So I warmed up for all the biggest DJs at the time, and that’s great experience.
You’ve written for several different publications about DJing and hip hop…What kind of impression did your experiences in journalism leave you with?
I had some cool experiences dabbling in music journalism – interviewing some of my heroes, travelling around the world going to cool events. But in the end I realised it was eating into time that I wanted to spend being creative with my own music. I enjoyed it though, and if I ever stopped making music, I’d be interested in doing that again.
What Premier League team, player or manager would you consider making the subject of a mix?
I am totally soccer-ignorant! Which is weird for someone from London, I know. But I think I just spent all that sports time on music stuff.
You’ve recorded with all kinda of artists, wrote a concerto for turntable and orchestra, and managed to transition from the hardcore hip hop turntablism era to the present day. Is the key to success more about sticking to your strengths or being adaptable to different trends and genres?
For me, the important thing has been to just stay true and honest to my own tastes. Sometimes that’s hard (playing country & western to a hardcore hip-hop club), but I think crowds can see right through a DJ who is not playing music that comes from the heart.
UndergroundHipHop.com x JTTS.com present
FRESH PRODUCE w/ DJ Yoda
Saturday, March 16
$5 / 21+ / 10p
Good Life, 28 Kingston St. (Bedford St.), Boston, MA 02111
goodlifebar.com / (617) 451-2622