Must-read new message from DJ Shadow

Friends,

I thought I’d touch base while we continue to navigate these uncharted waters. Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard many opinions from peers about what the role of an “entertainer” should be… what sort of tone one should take on social media, what kind of outlook to project. Nonetheless, I find myself conflicted. I suspect that, like many of you, this pandemic, and the human response to it, will take quite some time to process. Some days I’m up, some days I’m down, but mostly I’m just managing a vague sadness. Sadness for the lives lost, the everyday struggles of those most vulnerable, and the many human-engineered missteps, which threaten to inflict even greater loss. 

And yet, we must carry on. Since returning from my brief European tour on March 1st, I have taken solace in using my ample free time to tidy up. Not in the housekeeping sense (although there’s been a bit of that too), but in addressing the long-neglected corners of my amorphous music collection. 25 years of touring has generated enough “to organize later” messes to keep me occupied indefinitely. Since March, this has consisted of, among other things:

  • Digitizing boxes of rap demo tapes from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
  • Housing promotional artist photos in protective sleeves, and organizing by genre and name.
  • Watching and annotating dozens of unmarked promotional VHS tapes.
  • Consolidating my reel-to-reel collection.
  • Cleaning up my iTunes archive…

…And of course, playing and evaluating records… tons and tons of records. This has always been my solace in difficult times. I’ve forever been grateful for the privilege to get lost in music, and to let music guide me to a better place. This has been especially important of late, because… to be honest… I just haven’t found sheltering to be good for my creativity. I suppose that after working so hard on a double-album and the subsequent tour preparation, I’ve felt spent, drained.  But slowly, by playing records and losing myself in the creativity of others, the pathways of inspiration are taking shape. Undoubtedly the journey back to productivity will take some time, but it seems that time is a commodity most of us have to spare. 

Luckily, I’m in no hurry to rush the process. And in the meantime, I’ll continue to search for tasteful ways to get that double-album heard and plan for the eventual touring return to a city near you. Until then, I’ll be doing much the same as you: hoping for a swift end to the suffering and our eventual reunification.

-DJ Shadow

April, 2020