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DJ Vadim Mr Eclectic Electric Anyone who can define DJ Vadim's music in one sentence is either crazy or naive. Vadim, who gathered fame on Ninja Tune, with the group One Self and collabo's with Pugs Atomz, isn't afraid of following unknown paths, combining the old with the new, or just doing something weird. On his tenth studio album 'Don't Be Scared', Daddy Vad fearlessly continues to make uncompromising music. The press release of the record reads 'Our fear holds us back and urges us to re-tread old paths', which inspired us to talk about more than his view on music.


To extrapolate it to society: the world is getting smaller but at the same time people are getting more afraid of one and another, other opinions, other cultures, other habits, the unknown... Is fear the biggest problem of today's society?

Wow, you actually thought it through and didn't just print any old crap artists' say. Big up! Is fear our biggest problem? Well, I would have to weigh that up with climate change, starvation etc. It depends on who you talking to. If you are in East Africa, in some parts you have many very real fears - harvest not coming, rain not coming, land mines etc. I don't think you would find many people in East Africa suffering from depression. They ain't got time for that shit. They got real issues to deal with. If you live in L.A., it's a little different.

But can you blame them? There's a worldwide crisis, globalization make industries go down, which leads to job loss, poverty, there seems to be less authenticity…

I'm not sure that fear is a result of globalisation because surely by definition mankind has always been globalising. Is there such a being as a real American, a real Brit, German or Chinese? Are we not really in part a bit of each other? Perhaps the rate has increased rapidly but isn't under the guise that it's for our good. How did Ford sell its plan to ship all its work to Mexico and close all its plants in Flint and Michigan? That it was for profit of its shareholders...

So where does it come from?

I think fear or fear mongering is one of a government's greatest weapons to control people. I witnessed that first hand living in US and talking to people. People really, honestly believe that shit on TV. Bird flue this, Arabs that, black people this, Chinese that, Canadians are up to no good, Mexicans being all good for nothings... And what is the effect of all this fear? They sell us more shit. Movies about the Apocalypse, deodorants, computers, pharmaceuticals...

Why would 'they' do that?

The easiest way to keep people spending is to make them partially ill. Ill enough to have needs and wants but well enough to work, to earn and pay tax. What would be the point of a happy healthy society who looked within themselves to find true happiness? They wouldn't buy very much stuff, probably trade goods, be nice to each other, there would be no police or need for a huge government. No war, no disease, etc. So I feel it's in the government's financial interest to keep us fearful and sick.

So what's the remedy? You've travelled 69 countries. Is that the best way to diminish one's fear?

Yes, definitely. And I'm not talking about Americans who take a shopping trip to Those who have travelled and lived abroad more often than not think radically different to those who have never. They seem to have less fear, be more intelligent and resourceful.

You've been cured from cancer. Since overcoming it, do you have less fear?

I think when you have faced death and not died, nothing will ever be the same! Not that I don't get angry, sad, etc. like before but just things have a different concept or meaning and seem to affect me less...

The album's cover is pretty provocative. Any comments on it yet?

Firstly this isn't about Zulu Nation. I have a deep respect for what they have done, past and present. That was a coincidence so I'm not killing them, just killing my inner self to be reborn again!

Talking about Russian roulette. In the Arab world you see a fear for old leaders thumbling down, it seems like in Russia the fear for Poetin is diminishing too?

Well, I don't live in either so I'm not sure on the consensus of opinion. Because of the job I do and the people I know, I live in quite a socialist frame where people are quite left-leaning. However that is my creative bubble. I know outside my circle of friends and associates, opinions are drastically different. However, apart from that garbage speech of George W. Bush -'You're either with us or against us'- I think the core of all people or at least 99.99999% of them is the same: we want to live, to love, to share, to care, to have a family, to have friends, be loved, have some sort of happiness and care and welfare.

Is an Arab from Palestine different to a Jew or an American from St.-Louis or an Indian from Bombay or a Mongolian? No. Political opinion may very well change, but we are human. That's what politicians, especially in the US, seem to wilfully forget. We must always respect that first and foremost. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, if Arabs want an Islamic state and that's what they vote for, who am I to say they cannot have that. If the majority wants to keep Sadam Hussein, who am I to say they shouldn't? I don't live there. So if people want Putin, it's their choice. There are too many battles to fight to worry about Russia.


On Wikipedia there's an attempt to describe your 'style'. It says 'DJ Vadim composes both music for MCs, singers and poets and soulful instrumental hip-hop beats. In both cases, certain stylistic trends emerge', a brave attempt but vague...but it's kinda funny that anyone tried to and made a chapter of it on your Wiki-page...

I'm working with the engineer and producer of Faithless and I asked him to describe my music. He said 'atmospheric dance dub'. I like that better but yes everything comes from the heart, from the soul.

You worked with Sly & The Family Stone. Was it easy to communicate with Sly?

Ummmumm, oh yes, we got high on a cocktail of drugs and sat in a room jibbering like idiots for days and ending up with like one chord!

You're not afraid of sampling many styles and flavours, but have you ever sampled Minnie Ripperton?

She is one of my favourite artists of all time. The album 'Adventures In Paradise' is fantastic!

Describe the day you met Fat Freddy's Drop...

I have a friend called Vee. He is a Kiwi but has been living in London for a long time. For ages he said to me, check out Fat Freddy's Drop, check 'em out bro, check 'em out. And finally he talked me into coming to see them live in London. They were playing at Koko which at that time -2005- I had never been to. I went there, was blown away by this amazing retro theatre so beautiful, all in deep oak, red. There was like 1500 people there and then there was this group playing soul but it had a reggae twist. But also these driving hip-hop-style drums and the choruses were amazing. I was like 'Whoa! These motherfuckers are tearing shit up on some next level'.

Name three things you like about Pugslee Atomz' lyricism...

I like his voice, his delivery and tone. It's about that for me in a MC. You can bring all kinds of people who say witty shit, political stuff, battle MC's etc. but if they don't have a good voice, it doesn't matter.

What did you think of Brother Ali latest album?

I love Brother Ali. The world needs more Brother Ali's and less Jay-Z. Don't get it twisted, I think Jay-Z got skills, it's just that the person on stage in those arena's isn't the real Jay-Z. I always think these artists have so much power, so much sales, yet they are all still puppets to their label. Why does Jay-Z say he's lyrically Talib Kweli but then goes on to say how he had to adjust (water down) to get to the masses. Ok, fair enough, you want to get a hit album, and boy has Jay got those, but he could also do another album where it's the real dead presidents. Shit, just hard rhymes etc...

Because how come in rock you gonna have Thom Yorke do weird shit with Flying Lotus and everyone is cool and Radiohead are massive? But in hip-hop, I can't think of one major artist who is doing anything risky. It's like everyone is making the same shit, just the faces change.

You linked up with Rashaan Ahmad through MySpace. What's your fav social medium to link up with artists?

I don't really care what they call it. It allows me to communicate with people and that's all that matters. So Facebook, mybook, his book…

Did London really turn into a ghost town during the Olympics?

(laughs) Who told you that?

The media.

Naah, it was cool. I didn't really see a difference. London is always packed.

What music albums are on your iPod right now?

Africa Hi Tech, Azealia Banks, Arp 101, Big Mama Thornton, Big Maybelle, Bonobo, Brother Ali, Colonel Red, DVA, Dub Phizix, Foreign Beggers, Kendrick Lamar, Kode9, La Mala, Marshal Jefferson, Mally The Sundance Kid, MF Doom, Mungo's Hifi, Nickodemus, Oddisee, Tall Black Guy, Tnght, YT.

Whose musical creativity wizardness do you admire?

Well it's a long list but really, right now I'm listening to a lot of UK producers. DVA Hyperdub, La mala, Skream Roska, lots of UK bass. I would say that when I grew up, I listened to like 70/30 USA/UK music. Nowadays I would say it's like 60% UK, 10% like New Zealand and other places and 30% USA.

You once said your early work were sketches, then you started to make paintings, what painter would you compare yourself to?

Oooh, Salvador Dali, Picasso... I feel abstract, different but I also have a very keen eye for detail and that's what my signature is. I ain't got nothing against trap or trill or dub step but 99.9% of the people who make that, have no detail, no depth, no dimension to their music apart from volume. And if you take volume away from them, what's left is this puny anorexic skeleton of a beat that just ain't got shit. Just like super models. Take away all the hype and labels and what's left? More often than not, some super over skinny chic that really don't even look that good.

'Don't Be Scared' drops October 17th on BBE Music.


POSTED 09|26|2012
conducted by cpf

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