DJ Cam on Dedicating His New Album to Massive Attack and the Pleasures of Working Alone
Parisian DJ and producer DJ Cam first gained notoriety in the early '90s with his releases of groundbreaking albums Underground Vibes and Substances. Blending classic jazz and hip-hop, he set a new precedent in the trip-hop and backpacker scenes with his unique aesthetic. Throughout this lengthy career, he has worked with many notable underground rappers and mainstream greats, such as late hip-hop legend Guru of Gangstarr; he also produced music for films like Finding Forrester. Nine years later, he's back with his seventh studio album, aptly titled Seven. Described as the "most personal album" of his career, each track pays homage to his original roots of blending jazz and hip-hop beats, all set to a dynamic, dream-like soundscape. DJ Cam spoke with All Shook Down about the current tour, his many influences, and making every aspect of this album on his own. He opens for Blockhead this Saturday at Yoshi's SF.
How has touring been so far for your new album, Seven?
It's going great. Everything is sold out and packed with great vibes. The album has been released for two weeks, and it's doing really well in Europe and in the States. I'm really happy.
It's been nine years since the release of your last album. What have you been up to in between?
I've been doing mix CDs, compilations, and producing for other bands. I've still been active.
This album was influenced by Radiohead. Can you tell us about that?
I really dig Thom's band. I wanted to work with Thom Yorke, but because of timing issues, it didn't happen. But I was lucky enough to find Chris James from the band Stateless. Originally we were going to do one track together, but it was just going so well we ended up doing three.
And featured on the first single, "Swim."
"Swim" is one of my favorite tracks. It's such an easy song, and there's been some great remixes to it.
Your album is also dedicated to Massive Attack. Why are they so important to you?
They are my favorite group. I've been such a big fan from the beginning, and it's that simple. That's why I decided to dedicate the album to them.
Why is this your most personal album?
In the past I used to work with a lot of people, but for this album I decided to do all the beats, arrangements. I really wanted to get back to my roots and make my own album and do my own stuff and not work with twenty people. It's nice to do an album alone. It gives me a lot of pleasure.
You released it on your own label, Inflamable Records. Would you ever have any other artists on the label besides yourself?
I started the label in 1994, and it's just so great. It's more work, definitely, but such a pleasure for me. I love it, but I'm not looking for other artists just quite yet.
Since you have worked on music for movies, how is the process of movie tracks and personal tracks different for you?
My music is very cinematic. There's not that big of a difference of making your own album from being a director of a movie. It's the same way of working. For me, Seven was like a movie soundtrack.
If there was a scene in which you can envision your movie playing, what would it be?
It depends on what you hear when you are listening to the music. Like the track "Seven" is very dark and mysterious. I truly don't know; it depends on the person and the mood. But you should close your eyes when you're listening to Seven. I'm sure you'll get many images. My music is very scenic.
You'll be playing with Blockhead here in S.F. What's the setting for you two like, since his music is quite different?
I think it's a great match. We are doing not the same music, but we are doing the same style. We did a show in Denver and it was great. Our music sits really well together, and definitely complements each other. He's a really nice guy also, and it's always great to be with nice guys on tour.