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Q&A With RJD2

An Ohio Player

After several successful recordings that relied heavily on samples from records and other sources, indie hip-hop producer RJD2 found himself at a crossroads in his career. His cache of samples, amassed from years of collecting records, was severely depleted and he was faced with committing serious time to digging for more vinyl gems or venturing into new musical territory. He chose the latter. The result: His latest LP The Third Hand, which features live instruments and vocals (his own) on almost every track.

RJD2 returns to San Francisco on May 15 for a concert at Mezzanine. He spoke with SF Station during a phone interview from the road in Ohio, where he was raised.

SF Station (SFS): Do you get asked about Star Wars a lot?

RJD2: Not a whole lot, every now and again.

SFS: Are you a fan?

RJD2: Yeah, everybody from my generation is.

SFS: If you could have any character back you up on stage, who would it be?

RJD2: The Canteen band, of course.

SFS: When you started your music career, why did you decide to be a DJ/producer instead of playing the guitar or another instrument?

RJD2: I never decided or said this is what Iím going to due. When I decided to pursuer music a career that is the only time where I sat down and said, ďIím going to do this and go for it.Ē I just fell into DJing. I was a record collector in high school and an avid music fan. A friend of mine was selling his turntable with some records and I bought the whole thing because I wanted the records. I had the turntables around, so I just started messing with them.

SFS: Do you still do a lot of digging for records?

RJD2: Not at the moment. Iíve been buying a lot of gear and studio stuff.

SFS: Do you have a prized album that you own?

RJD2: My prized possessions are all of my records recorded by local Ohio musicians. For a long time they were my Holy Grail.

SFS: When did you start craving a change from being a sample-based musician to recording with instruments?

RJD2: The first time it dawned on me that using just samples was going to be a problem was right after Deadringer came out. To a certain degree, I kind of blew my load as far as samples go. I used all of the really great shit that I had at the moment. I was either going to have get serious about buying an inordinate amount of records or start buying instruments so I wouldnít have to sample a bunch of records for every single piece of a song.

SFS: You also did your own vocals on your latest album. Why did you decide to do that?

RJD2: When I was using a sample, my whole thing was about creating music that sounded like pop music. That is why there were always a lot of vocal samples. After I started to feel more comfortable singing, I found that I could go that route instead of going to a sample. It goes back to what I said before about my record collection being spent. Itís hard to find long a capella vocal samples to use in a song. You donít come across them everyday. They are very rare, actually.

RJD2 performs with Pigeon John and Happy Chichester at Mezzanine on May 15. Tickets are $20 and doors open at 9pm..