Aidin Vaziri | DJ Shadow – or Josh Davis as he is known to the DMV – is one of the most forward-thinking musicians to come out of the Bay Area. Since dropping his first full-length album, 1996’s “Entroducing…,” the sample-based artist has worked relentlessly to push stylistic boundaries (sometimes to antagonistic effect), collaborating with everyone from Radiohead singer Thom Yorke to Oakland hyphy rapper Keak da Sneak along the way. Shadow’s latest release, “The Less You Know, the Better,” out now on the jazz label Verve, sees the 39-year-old record hoarder dabbling in exotic folk, heavy metal and grand sonic details that made him an international sensation in the first place.
Q: You’ve taken to performing in a sphere in an era when most other DJ-based artists act like rock stars, crowd surfing and whatnot. Are you trying to put a barrier between yourself and the audience?
A: No, but it does suit my persona. You’re right, everything about me as a DJ is out of style and out of step. I didn’t grow up wanting to be famous or wanting to be a celebrity. I just wanted to share the music I loved by others and then moved into making music as a way of trying to provide an alternative to the landscape.
Q: You did the Identity tour with people like Skrillex, Kaskade and Steve Aoki. Did you feel out of place?
A: Honestly, I think everyone did. I met many of the other DJ’s and everyone was very polite and respectful to each other. But on a certain level, it was a strange amalgam of talent and I think everyone experienced a bit of discomfort or confusion, myself included. Obviously, I’m quite a bit older than most of the others and I don’t come from the rave scene so immediately I was “out of place,” as you say. But I agreed to do this tour to reach new people and to throw myself into an uncontrolled environment. I have faith in my abilities as a DJ so I never felt as though I couldn’t connect. But at the same time, I had no misconceptions about who everyone was there to see and it certainly wasn’t me.