Exclusive interview with elite crate diggers, DJ Shadow and Egon

WRITER
Hashim Kotaro Bharoocha

――What is the Imani record like?
Egon: It’s an early 80s deep jazz vocal record. But it’s the kind of record that skirted rare groove, spiritual jazz, jazz funk and all that stuff at the same time. It’s a really great record, Imani “Out of the Blue”.

――You’ve been in the music industry for a long time, but do you still collect vinyl?
Egon: Oh yeah dude, of course. I buy records everyday and listen to records everyday. That’s my preferred medium, I’ve never gotten tired of them. I’ve found new ways to enjoy them. I have totally different turntable setups now. I have 4 different turntables, different tone arms, and cartridges. I got into the idea that you could listen to records in a different way depending on what your setup was. I used to think you should listen to records on a Technics 1200 because you can bring it wherever you go. I realized that you could listen to records in a different way, and not always on a Technics 1200, or using an Ortofon or a Shure. Technics 1200 turntables are great turntables, but there are other turntables with a totally different sound.

――Vinyl is popular again but where do you see vinyl culture going in the future?
Egon: I think it’s going to keep up for awhile, and die down again like anything. Maybe it’s a response to streaming. People want the tactile experience to remind them that  musical experiences don’t always have to be an ethereal weird thing. You can actually hold a record and look at the artwork, which are the things that made me want to keep on making vinyl, when people didn’t care about vinyl. All that stuff seems really meaningful to people now. Vinyl sounds better than most every medium, except for quarter inch or half inch tape. But it only sounds good if you have the ability to reproduce it. I’ve been making vinyl ever since I got into making music, and I’ve never stopped. I’ve always thought that the music hasn’t come out yet, until it’s come out on vinyl.

――Who do you have lined up for future pop-ups?
Egon: We’re doing one with DJ Muggs. We’re not selling his record collection yet. We’re doing a pop-up with him, for a record that we made for Rappcats with the rapper Roc Marciano. So we’ll do unique records just for Rappcats and sell them here. We’re going to do a pop-up for Muggs’ records here too, but when I started going through his record collection, I realized that it was so deep that it needed to be something more than me just selling his collection. We want his records to go to a university archive so we could archive his collection. We’re going to try and get it into one of the universities here in Los Angeles. It will be the first hiphop archive in Los Angeles. He has so many records that it would be too much to put in an archive, so we will sell some of them. But the majority of it, the really important stuff will be put into a university archive. His collection is all the stuff that he bought to sample, so it’s like Strata East Records, Tribe Records, psychedelic rock records, private press funk records, and all types of stuff.

――Shadow, we’d like to giveaway some records from the pop-up today to our readers. Can you talk about them?
Shadow: Sure.

The Ultimate Force “Cuts Like These”Hip-Hop Records
This was originally released on a label called B-Boy. So it’s usually harder to find the one that says B-Boy, and it’s usually crossed out. When this came out, there was already another label called B-Boy. This record was always hard to find. I never used to see it in stores when it was new. It didn’t have good distribution. So I heard about it, but I could never find this record.

Rafo “Toutt’ Manman Ce Manman” Maxnelle Records
This record has the soca hi-life sound from the 80s that a lot of people are into. It’s a sound that’s becoming popular. Like any genre, I like some of it, but not all of it. I found this record in a warehouse somewhere, I don’t remember exactly where it was.

Peter Berkow
This was one of the first breakbeats I found on my own in the 80s. So it was one of the first things I found.

DJ Shadow feat. Nas “Systemic”
The instrumental for this song isn’t out on vinyl anywhere, and I know a lot of people were wanting the instrumental, so I pressed it for the event today.

――Egon, what releases do you have coming up?
Egon: Madlib finished working on the Freddie Gibbs album, which is probably going to come out early next year. I do all the rap stuff with either Madlib or with other people. I work with Muggs trying to get his stuff together, but that’s on his label. I just help him get the records produced and sold. With the Dilla estate I do that through Payjay which is the estate’s imprint. With Madlib, I do that on Madlib Invazion which is the label that me and him do. Rappcats is just a retail space and webstore. I have Now Again for my reissues and artist signings. I have tons of records coming out.

――Any closing words for record collectors in Japan?
Egon: Japan has always been one of those places where the appreciation for vinyl never left. I always felt like you could find anything in Japan, and it’s true. The Japanese approach of buying used records from all over the world, from the time when they were barely used in the 70s to now, is all encompassing. I like to think if you’re in Japan, just go to your local record store, and you could probably find better records than you could find anywhere in the world. The Disc Union record store is one of the greatest record chains that the world has ever seen. Not just on the way they focus on new music, but the way that literally you could go through those stores, because the turnover is so great, and the amount of records being held in that country is so intense, that the chance of discovering something new is endless. The fact that these people are doing these hi-fi bars right now like JBS, that all started in Japan. It’s huge now. The Japanese made all these innovations with music that wasn’t their own.

Egon&DJ Shadow

Egon&DJ Shadow
DJ Shadow
Born in Hayward California, DJ Shadow shot to fame with his first album “Endtroducing” released in 1996. The album opened up the possibilities for instrumental hiphop, and it has been hailed as a masterpiece from the 90s era. He then went on to release “The Private Press” (2002), “The Outsider” (2006), and “The Less You Know The Better” (2011).

Egon
Along with DJ Shadow, Keb Darge, and Cut Chemist, Egon is known as one of the world’s top record collectors, and specializes in rare funk, soul, psychedelic rock, and world music. He is also a journalist, and is the owner of the Now Again record label which is respected by music fans from around the world. When he was working at Stones Throw, he helped to bring global success to artists such as Madlib, J Dilla, and Aloe Blacc.

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