The Metro – Chicago, IL
DH: Do you have any surprises coming up for your US tour?
RJD2: Oh yes! The show starts off with a big one.
Well, RJD2 certainly wasn’t lying when a space creature from a foreign land stepped onto The Metro stage. The space farer “Commissioner Crotchbuttons” promised no harm would fall amongst us Earthlings joining him as he proceeded to beat on a drum machine located firmly where the alien’s crotch should be. Giving us a tour of his alien hardware, the Commissioner gave us a brief demo of what was to come later on in the night.
(Hint: It was really RJD2!)
DH: I read you started DJ-ing in Ohio, of all places… How did you manage to escape?
RJD2: Oh, I wouldn’t say “escape”. It’s a great place, really. Just got to be a little too claustrophobic.
DH: So, how did you get away?
RJD2: In 2002, I moved here to Philadelphia. Just up and did it, really.
DH: What was your goal when you first started out?
RJD2: No goal, really. I was just having fun. At first, I was trying to be a scratch DJ. Then, a rap producer. Then, a solo producer. I never had a master plan or anything.
DH: So, what are you now?
RJD2: Well, now I consider myself more than just a DJ. I’d like to think there’s legitimacy to the music I’m making that wasn’t there 15 years ago.
What is present in RJD2’s live DJ set is a diverse fusion of old and new school sounds. From old school hip hop to ambient samples, RJD2 blends it all up and gives his fans a great live show. Utilizing three turntables and a surplus of electronic equipment, the DJ spun out some of his best work in this round of his live show. The DJ has been touring extensively for the past few years, yet still managed to combine the majority of his previous work into one massive collection called 2002-2010 spanning nearly a decade. He also added another release last month: his fourth album, The Colossus. The title is not an understatement, this is just one peak in a lengthy career.
Now there is a very good chance you have been exposed to his work. His tracks have been featured in everything from video games to commercials to CSI: NY.
RJD2: Saturn ran an ad with “Ghostwriter” in 2002. It came on the TV when I was least expecting it. It was the first time I heard my music like that, definitely a trip.
DH: When working on a new track, do you start with the structure of the melody first?
RJD2: Always the groove. Once the drums and one instrument are moving together in the right way, then things start falling into place.
DH: Have things fallen into place this year?
RJD2: Probably the day that I finally nailed the live show I’m touring on now. It wasn’t for 10-15 dates into the tour when I REALLY had all the details down. It’s pretty hard to execute the whole thing with no mistakes, so that keeps us working every night.
His 2007 album, The Third Hand, featured the producer getting more than detailed with his work, opting to play the instruments he featured in his tracks including singing on a few tracks. The DJ-turned producer took yet another step further as he spent a few minutes away from his skills behind the turn tables to rock with a few band members and opener multi-instrumentalist Happy Chichester. The hard rock was a completely different sound than his scratch DJ skills which I was familiar with. It’s not that I didn’t dig his sound, but it was just a little off putting to switch from his mixing directly into a hard rock collaboration and then back into re-mixing. It was just a little off putting, not terrible. The crowd definitely took a few minutes to tune their ears to the new waves.
His live shows are more than worth checking out if he is in the area. If you’re into having your mind warped, he has a video projection featuring some of the trippiest visuals I have seen since that one time I took an unknown pill from a friend’s pocket. Tons of inverted colors in big Bollywood dance numbers and some good old-school horror films wound and rewound for most of the night. The DJ seemed pleased by the end of the night, leaving the crowd satisfied and sweaty. Although we did not get to say goodbye to the “Commissioner” or his “Crotchbuttons”, we are more than certain he will land in Chicago in the near future.
DH: Any major plans for 2010? Any way you are going to make this year the best?
RJD2: Hmmm. Just gonna try to do me. That’s all I can expect really, is just to do my best.
Photos by: Blake Russell