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 “Endtroducing …,” the sample-based artist worked relentlessly to push stylistic boundaries (sometimes to antagonistic effect), collaborating with everyone from Radiohead singer Thom Yorke to Oakland rapper Keak da Sneak. 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 the moody brand of hip-hop 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: Last year, you did the Identity tour with people like Skrillex, Kaskade and Steve Aoki. Did you feel out of place?
A: 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 have faith in my abilities as a DJ so I never felt as though I couldn’t connect. At the same time, I had no misconceptions about who everyone was there to see and it certainly wasn’t me.