This past year, producer Polow Da Don openly admitted to using pre-rendered loops when creating Usherâ€™s summer smash â€œLove in This Club.â€ While the ethics involved in crafting a beat have been and will always be subjective, it is a little disheartening to see such linear thinking rewarded so greatly—especially when there are artists like DJ Vadim out there. The antithesis of a cut-copy producer, Vadimâ€™s multi-disciplinary style draws elements from roots of reggae, hip-hop, trip-hop, breaks, nu-jazz, and all manners of musical styling. Add to the mix a niche group of featured vocalists, and youâ€™ve got a finished product that cannot be matched. Format caught up with Vadim to discuss the past, present, and future of his ever-evolving work.
“The world would be a more beautiful place if more people smoked the buddha bless and listened to roots reggae!”
Format: Your latest album, The Soundcatcher, has been getting rave reviews. How does it feel to be hailed as one of the current kings of instrumentalism?
DJ Vadim: Of course itâ€™s great to have good reviews, and for fans and new people alike to love a release. I worked hard to develop my sound, my albums, and what goes into them.
Format: It seems to have lost a little momentum since RJD2 picked up a guitar; Shadow went hyphy, and Diplo decided he wanted to make club tracks. Where do you see the genre going next?
DJ Vadim: Well this is a tricky question. All the people youâ€™ve mentioned have certain records that define a moment in time. However, like most artists, people develop and time moves on. You cannot just repeat the same thing. So, just as the people you mention are accused of abandoning their roots, selling out, or not doing what they did on their seminal release, well, the same finger could be pointed at me.
Is The Soundcatcher my first LP? No, but itâ€™s a massive quantum leap forward. However, I suppose you could argue that I have stayed truer [in the past]. I donâ€™t make rock or techno now; itâ€™s still within the genre, just wider. As for instrumentalism, Iâ€™m not sure if that covers exactly what I do, but again, thatâ€™s subjective. I do have several guest vocalists on my LP. Itâ€™s not like what I do is some ambient floatation-tank style musicâ€¦though that might make an interesting place to listen to it!
Format: How did you break into producing and spinning records?
DJ Vadim: Well I started DJing in 1988, collecting beats and whatnot. With a good friend, I started DJing at other friendsâ€™ parties and local raves, and our rep got bigger and bigger.
Format: So you started as a team. Who was this other friend?
DJ Vadim: The guyâ€™s name was Tripple X. He doesnâ€™t DJ anymore.
Format: Which labelmate(s) influenced you the most over your years at Ninja Tune Records?
DJ Vadim: Roots Manuva, Lotek HiFi, Herbaliser.
Format: What else affects the way you make music?
DJ Vadim: Music is a representation of where you are, what you see, and what you smell. Itâ€™s not a mystery that The Ramones came out of Lower East-Side NYC in â€™77, or hip-hop outta the Bronx. I soak up whatâ€™s around me; the people I meet, my friends, relationships, etc.
Format: Your efforts have been sonically diverse, to say the least. How do you feel about crossover artists?
DJ Vadim: Not sure if I understand you, but what I would say is, good music is good music, regardless of sales. You can sell one record or one million and be dope, or you can sell one record or million and be wack. Itâ€™s all about what you do, rather than to whom you are signed, or what you look like.
Format: You list an incredibly wide palette of influences, from Gang Starr, to 4Hero, to King Tubby. Not surprisingly, your work is thick with collaborations. Who has been your personal favorite to work with thus far?
DJ Vadim: Hard to say as itâ€™s always changing. I have had fun with all these people, sharing a moment in their lives to create something new. The experiences, the feelings, they all become part of who I am today.
Format: Whoâ€™s on your radar this year?
DJ Vadim: Kid Kanevil from the UK, amazing up-coming producer; Freddy Krueger from Sweden; DJ Griffi from Barcelona; Sepalot from Munich; Nextmen from UK; and of course, Fat Freddyâ€™s Drop from New Zealand. Love these guys.
Format: What are you listening to at the moment?
DJ Vadim: My new LP, Iâ€™m making it as [we speak]. Hoping to finish soon!
Format: Ambience and dissonance, or rhythm and harmony?
DJ Vadim: Ritmo, ritmo, ritmo. Itâ€™s all about ritmo for me! [Editorâ€™s note: ritmo is Italian/Spanish for â€œrhythm.â€]
Format: Venue and crowd-wise, what has been your favorite city to play in?
DJ Vadim: Things change constantly, but some of my most memorable have been at â€œBottom of the Hillâ€ in Frisco, 2003; Marseille in South France, 2008; DJ Krush in Tokyo, 1996; Coldcut, Qbert, Shadow, DJ Food and I at Blue Note, London, 1996; Dresden Christmas Party 2007 was off the chain; Root Down in L.A., 2006; Dundee Scotland, 2007.
Format: How would you describe the current direction of your career?
DJ Vadim: Mixing heavy electronics, reggae, hip-hop and soul—dubbing it out and coming with the boom bap.
Format: Youâ€™ve got a pretty hectic tour schedule, but no North American dates. Do you plan to cross the pond anytime soon?
DJ Vadim: Miami, December 6th, for Amnesty International. I just did a bunch of East Coast shows in June, and was on the West Coast and Chicago in February. I come to the U.S. a lot. Iâ€™m trying to finish an LP, so I donâ€™t want to go on any big tours right now, plus Iâ€™m moving to Berlin soon, so Iâ€™ve got to prepare for that.
Format: Thanks for your time. Is there anything else youâ€™d like to add?
DJ Vadim: The world would be a more beautiful place if more people smoked the buddha bless and listened to roots reggae!