Some weeks ago we met the legendary producer Dj Vadim in his berlin part-time flat and had a little chat about past, present and future of production, changes in the music industry and his new record with The Electric. It was interesting to hear the opinions and storys of someone who is in the game since over two decades. Thanks again to Vadim for sharing views. // Check the new video "The Electric - Toot Toot" (produced by homie Benjamin Dormrich and Loris Lamuniere) and the interview after the jump....Thx 2 Jonas and Jimmmy°!
Certainly, everyone who is interested in Rapmusic/Beatproduction knows who you are, but maybe not everyone is familiar with all of your past and recent projects. Can you give our readers a short introduction about what you´ve done in the last time?
I´ve been doing music sine the early 90´releasing different kinds of records, working with different singers and mc´s, some are more Reggae, some are more Hip Hop, some are more Instrumental. I started in 92, now we have 2011, that´s a 19 year journey. I´m touring the world really.
You wrote on your website, "that we are now living in the golden age of music". Please explain that.
It´s easy to say: Oh my God, the Golden Age was so amazing. I was there in 95. I was there in 85 too. I remember when Roxane Shante came out. I remember when BIG came out. I remember when Gangstarr came out. Buying KRS One, Beatminers, all that stuff people call classic Hip-Hop. But that was then. You can´t live in the past. I don´t wanne be like my Granddad just sitting there thinking about memorys: "I went to see Frank Sinatra in 1952. It was so good, it´s not the same now... Fuck that! Those times are over.
It´s true, when I listen to Rap-radio nowadays, most of the shit they play is garbage. When I listened to a show in 1991 I liked everything they played. But that´s not because HipHop is garbage now, it´s because the whole thing is corporate now. In 91 you couldnt sale 10 million albums. 5000 was a Goldrecord. Now 5000 is nothing. If someone sells 400.000 Records nobody talks about them - 20 Years ago they would have been on MTV. Rap has become Pop. Pharell produces Britney Spears, Madonna is rapping on her Records. That is straight up garbage. But there is, more then ever, a lot of amazing music out. It´s just harder to find. You get lost in the recordshop.
...or in ITunes. What is one effect of the development of technology. I thought your quote tended to the positive changes in musicproduction and distribution since the "digital age".
Yeah, it´s mindblowing. You can sit here in Berlin and find out about the latest shit that happens in Simbabwe. Nicolay and Phonte met at the okayplayer-forum and finished a whole album without meeting each other in person. Back in the day I used to send ADATs
(?) to America. I recorded a beat on ADAT, called Fedex up, send it. The guy recorded his verses, sended it back. It costed about 120$ and took like two weeks for the whole project. Today I use yousendit. The guy gets the beat in 3 minutes. I think thats great. That´s instant. But there are problems with things that are instant as well. People take it for granted. If you pay a lot of money for something you value it more than something you receive for free. The result is, that people don´t respect music, because they get so much for free.
In my oppinion, the big Change is in consuming music. Song get checked for some seconds and if it doesn´t catch you imediatelly you go on for the next. The best records need time to grow on you. You buy it, put in in your crate and realise just after some years how good it is. But you ain´t got time in the digital age. The stuff gets lost on your harddrive.
I remember when I bought the first TribeCalledQuest album. I thought it`s shit, so I brought it back to the recordshop. But my friend kept his and after I got used to it I bought me a copy again. You need time to get into new things. Things that are instant, you can instantly loose your like for it because it has no depth, ther´s nothing in it to keep you hooked. And that´s what Popmusic is. It´s so super easy, simple and stupid that you can easily forget it.
Since you´re producing a long time. How did your own way of Production change? From equipment to working with people.
When I first startet I had a Akai S915 and a Atari ST1040. That was the cutting-edge equipment at that time. Now I can do more with my phone than what I could do then in 91.
But especially in Hip Hop Production the limitation in the early days technique formed the unique sound. If you listen to Premo sampling just a few seconds to put together an extreme powerful beat. Now you have all the freedom you want. You can use everything. That has to lead to a different sound.
Yeah, it´s true. You can listen to the Beatles who recorded on a fourtrack and it sounds fantastic. And you can listen to Fela Kuti, he had a whole freakin band of 40 people and they probably recorded that on a two-track. And it sounds amazing. How the fuck did they do that? I think that´s because you´re talking about people who were extremely talented. Not everyone could have recorded that on a twotrack, in 1961, in Nigeria. I think Fela Kuti is amazing and the Beatles had some amazing music at a certain period. You could nowadays go the best studio here in berlin that has thousends Euros worth of Equipment. Does it means that everyone who goes there is amazing? No. Probably 90% of the people in there are a bunch of shit, but there might be one thats amazing.
Yeah, but what does a new technology bring that person? In your case, what does the new technology bring you? If I listen to older stuff of yours there is certainly a big difference to your newer music. If you would record today on the old equipment it would probably sound different from then anyway, but I think the possibilitys of recording have always an effect on the creative process.
I´ve done that. I don´t wont to go back. I´ve done the splicing of the tape, glueing it.. all of that stuff. But maybe because I know what it´s like to have a sampler that has only 11 seconds, how you make the most of that. All this little tricks like sampleing everything as twice the speed and than speeding it down. Now I can record for hours, probably days. But that doesn´t mean I make better music. Music is not about what Equipment you use, it´s about the song.
There is some vintage stuff that has a cool sound. I use a lot of analog equipment. I have a minimoog, fenderrhodes, hammondorgan and a lot of stuff from the 60´s and 70´s. I´ve been thinking about mastering on Tape. I´m much more into that than going back to a 11sec. sampler
Tell us about your new Project. How did the Elecctric come together?
I met Sara, who is originaly from Manchester, 2007 in London and we recorded some songs. I met Pugz Atoms while I lived in New York 2006 and we recorded some songs. Some of these songs came out on my last Record I did for BBE: "you can´t learn imagination". So, they first heard each other on this recordings. But as soon as they met for the tour, it was like, wow, how come we´ve never met befor?
How did the songs of your new Record develop? Did you have Beatscribbles or finished Beats, or did you jam together?
It was a little bit of both. For example twotwo, which is the 4th track on the CD, we did a soundcheck in Seattle. I just played the Beat and Pugz was testing his Mic going: twotwo, beatbeat. twotwo beatbeat.. And I was like: "that sounds good". So we used that as a soundcheck-song for the next days. Then it developed from that on.
Music is addicted which is the last song. Sara did that on the guitar while we were in a car. Back in the studio we recorded her guitar & voice and I replayed the music around it and added a different tempo and structure to her song. There are other songs like "overloaded" which is based on a sample of a house record. One day we got really high and listened to the metro area song "orange". We really liked it, so I chopped it up and replayed some things.
These three ways stand basically for how we made the record. It´s totally different to how I made other records before, where I worked on my own in the Studio and made Beat after Beat and send these Beattapes out. Here it felt much more like a collaboration of three people.
Special is also, that we could try new songs on the road, because we toured together. We could see what works and what doesn´t. After the shows we came together and discussed about, this is to slow, let´s speed it up, or this is to long, or let´s Sara go first and Plugz go second.. So we also had that live element that did feed back the production in the studio.
I can imaging, that there are different tastes in different parts of the world.
It´s not only that there´re different tastes in different parts of the world. It´s distinguishs from which club you play. If I DJ here in Berlin, it´s totally different wether I´m at Cassiopaia, Cookies or Watergate. And that´s just one city! Personally I like to play MGMT, the Beatles, Capleton and Elephantman in one set. Maybe not next to each other, but I like to create a journey. But, not every Promoter and not every crowd is down for that and at the end your job is to rock the crowd.
But the place this happend to me the most is france. They are the most open-minded and educated musiccrowd. I think that´s partly because of their radio, their culture and the way the government invests in concerts. When you go to a french festival you get the most bizarre mix. They would invite some group from Usbekistan that´s doing (sworddancing / sort-dancing???), and some Group from Bolivia doing their flute thing and than there´s me. I could never witness that in Germany.
Like you said before, through the internet people have excess to everything. I think hat´s why the tastes aren´t bound to one genre anymore. The younger generations aren´t HipHop or Electro, they listen to everything. So, we´re moving in the right direction.
That´s true. When I first came to Germany in 1991, Germany was very different from Germany now. And I much prefer Germany now. People were like: "I just listen to Rap" or "I listen to Britcore", "I listen to Funk". I were to places where the promoter told me to not mix reggae and Hip Hop. But now I feel it´s much more excepted. People are starting to understand the link between Hip Hop and Soul and Reggae and Jazz and what ever..
Of course you have the link from sampling. I think if you really dig Hip Hop, at one point you get into the originals because you are curious where it came from.
Do you have some all time favorite Records, that you can point out?
I love James Brown. I mean he is the godfather of soul and funk, he is the foundation of everything I do. My favorite Album James Brown Album is Mindpower. That´s not the most immediate one, it´s a little bit psychedelic and deals with social things, it´s quite deep.
Also, I love Minnie Ripperton´s Adventures in Paradise. That´s an amazing Album and I love the cover. She´s sitting on a lion, on a sofa like this, it´s a blue background. I buy stuff like that but it´s also a nostalgic value. It´s like a piece of art. If I buy a 12" in 2011 I look at it in a different way.
For me, digging is also a look into history.
Yeah, when I pull a old record, I smell inside.. There´s jut something about it.