Shigeto knows how to stretch.
The producer's output can range from near jazz-like dexterity to IDM levels of intricacy, all contained within a familiar frame of reference.
New EP 'Intermission' is out now, with Shigeto set to return to the UK earlier next year. With that in mind, Clash invited the Ghostly-aligned producer to delve into his Influences.
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I went to an alternative high school called Community High in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with Justin. Instead of orchestra or choir, we had small jazz combos. He was a senior when I was a freshman, and I remember looking up to that band so much. Fast-forward a decade, and I find out he's been releasing experimental music on Kranky. I was thrilled — and also humbled when I found out that he'd been keeping up with what I was doing, too.
Justin has always played with such restraint. He's one of the most tasteful players I know. He focuses more on the space and the individual notes rather than creating complexity. His music on Kranky shows that. Recorded live, mainly with trumpet and a MIDI valve instrument run through his own software, the music is mostly ambient. The result is deep, powerful walls of sound, with an emotional sense that's hard not to feel. When I caught up with Justin and saw what he was up to, it inspiring. Maybe the ambient tracks on 'Intermission' came from that, in a way.
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Texture. Open space. Low frequencies. Jan Jelinek's Loop Finding Jazz Records changed the way I listened to music. I had never been able to put on a record and then just leave it on. I would listen, sitting by the stereo, picking apart every little thing, trying to find out what the lyrics were. I learned to "take in" sound with this record — to completely forget it was playing, but let it guide whatever I was up to. Also, his use of sampling was so different. It wasn't cutting up a record and sampling your favorite bit — it was more like taking a second or less of sounds (record static, feedback) and then using them to create something completely different. It also had a warm, relaxing feel to it, even though it was disjointed. Truly a unique sound for the time.
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I was shown this album by one of my best friends super late at night, with a bottle of wine and, most likely, some drugs. I can't remember. What I do remember was putting it on multiple times a day for weeks afterwards. I don't know if I have had my attention held by such a minimal set up before - except for maybe some Keith Jarrett solo piano things.
There were so many dynamics and so many ideas generated with so few tools. I'm not really a part of Russel's cult following; i's mainly this record that stays with me, making me want to find places I've never gone before, using tools I'm already familiar with.
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Tadd Mullinix is one of my favourite producers of all time. Whether it's hip-hop, techno, house, acid, electro, jungle etc., he delivers only what you want and need, staying true to the genre while making it progressive. Sometimes I play the same track 10 times in a row just to hear one part. He would be inspired by something, find the best part of that, and then make it his own.
This record came out in 2002, I believe, on Prefuse 73's Eastern Development label. This stuff was so ahead of its time to me. I always loved how Tadd would use his techno sense in his hip-hop. The synth hook on 'Do My Thing' was definitely coming from this sort of place. More importantly, Tadd is a stand-up gentleman. One of the realest, kindest humans I have the pleasure of knowing. I think having your inspiration come from your friends is a blessing for sure.
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Boards Of Canada
Maybe an obvious choice, but a huge influence nonetheless. Beautifully dark. Complex in its simplicity. For me, it sounded effortless and perfect, even though I knew they put loads of time into each release. Everything was there for a reason, much like Mullinix's production. I enjoyed their two most recent albums, but their early output stays with me the most. I think they had a sound that influenced a lot of musicians coming up at the same time as me.
The music Warp was putting out during the '90s and early '00's was a huge influence on me. I'd list Boards of Canada among Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and Autechre as being some my first loves in "electronic" music.
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Catch Shigeto live:
11 London Oval Space
17 Brighton Patterns