Posted on Wednesday, February 10, 2010 by J.Paul
After stumbling across the Jaydiohead project and thoroughly enjoying it, we knew we needed to hear more and know the full story. Awesomely, the man behind it has been busy. We were able to dig into Jaydiohead: The Encore and Doublecheck Your Head and even better; he was cool enough to answer some of our questions about his work, his process and what he might have in store for us down the road.
What inspired the Jaydiohead project? Jay Z and Radiohead are pretty far apart, musically. What was it that made them come together for you?
I first heard the track "I Might Be Wrong" by Radiohead, and thought that it would make a great hip-hop beat. So, I did it, and put Jay-Z vocals for "Pray" over it. Then I did another track with Thom Yorke's "Black Swan" and Jay-Z's "Ignorant Shit." I had these two tracks done for about a year before I decided to make it into a whole album. When I thought of the name "Jaydiohead", it spurred me to see the project through. It was a personal challenge, just to see if I could make it sound cool.
What are some of your most important musical influences?
So many really, but lately I've been influenced by the Beastie Boys, productions from DJ Premier, Beck, and King Tubby.
Best burger in NYC?
Cafe Orlin on 8th street btwn 1st and 2nd avenue. Its $10 with fries and a salad which is a pretty good deal around here.
What have you been listening to lately?
Beck, Miike Snow, Breakbot, and dub music.
Hit the jump for the rest of the interview...
How did you get into being a producer and DJ?
I definitely consider myself still learning both crafts...so I don't feel as if I've reached my goals. That being said, it all started out just making beats on my computer. I was amazed at how polished and cool the music was that I listened to. I tried to emulate that. The Neptunes were a huge influence on me when I first learned about making beats. Researching and learning stuff from online has been invaluable to me as well. I know its cliche, but the power of the Internet and how much you can learn from it is really remarkable. From here I began layering acapellas over my beats and other popular instrumentals...and I just kind of kept going. Ultimately though, I would like to produce a group or a band. I think that would be really cool.
Were you a musician before getting into the production side of things?
I play the drums and a little bit of guitar. Drumming helped me understand how to put a beat together rhythmically. I want to learn more theory, and ultimately, I think playing the piano would be dope. I wish I learned when I was much younger...There is still time though, I haven't given up hope!
Production, at least in this remix/mashup type sense, is fun because anything goes. I get the final say on everything, and I don't have to listen to anyone! Not that other people's opinions aren't valuable, its just cool to create something based on my own ear. To put this creation out there and have other people like it is amazing and I'm very grateful for it.
What was the process for matching the songs up? For instance, Song and Cry really works well, I think, because you've got Jay-Z rapping about his divorce over a Radiohead song that really conveys loss and pain. Do you try to go for the vibe first and then choose the songs, or is it more like you feel that they go together well, or a combination or something else completely?
It starts off based on tempo. For example, "Song And Cry" is composed of Radiohead's "High and Dry" and Jay-Z's "Song Cry." For argument's sake, let's say the Radiohead track is at 110 BPM (beats per minute) and the Jay-Z track is at 90 BPM. Even though both songs are melancholy and Jay-Z's lyrics are contextually appropriate to go over the Radiohead track, it wouldn't work because the tempo's would have to be manipulated far too much. Either the Radiohead track would have to be slowed way down, or Jay's vocals sped up, or a combination of the two. Regardless, it would sound very strange. The goal was for me to make everything sound natural, like they got together in a studio made this themselves.
With that said, many tracks from both artists had similar tempos, so from here I paired tracks together based on their sound and feeling...so yes, definitely the "vibe" of the tracks determines what gets married together.
Do you have a favorite personal Jay-Z/Radiohead/Beastie Boys story/experience?
Going to the Beastie Boys 2004 concert and Madison Square Garden was incredible. I also went to a Jay-Z show at the Garden towards the end of 2009 that was also great. I haven't seen Radiohead live yet! Jay-Z and Radiohead are headlining Coachella, so they should get down with some Jaydiohead.
Have you played these projects live? Can you? In Chicago? Cos that would really be a lot of fun for my friends and I.
I'm trying to figure out a way to re-create the process live on stage, while being appropriate for a party/bar/club type environment. Its difficult though...it takes a long time, at least for me. Don't get me wrong, its pretty easy to match 2 songs together...very easy - I'm trying to create original songs with new stuff added. Its not rocket science. I'm glad people like it. When I get back into making original stuff, I want people to be as interested in it as they are Jaydiohead...
Of all these songs, can you name one as your favorite? I think mine's 99 Anthems, or Fall In Step or maybe Reckoner's Encore...
December Backdrifts from "The Encore" is my favorite, and my second favorite is "Lucifer's Jigsaw" from the original Jaydiohead.
What's next for you? Can we expect a second Encore from Jaydiohead? Or Triple Check Your Head?
I'm working on another remix album. It's kind of a left turn. I don't want to reveal it yet, I want to make sure it sounds cohesive once I'm done with it. I'm using one of my favorite rappers and pairing with a different genre of music, as opposed to rapper + band. So far I've been really excited about it. I hope to have it done in the next couple of months.
Once that's finished, I'm not sure. Possibly get back into some original tunes, or maybe some more remixing, I really don't know. I'm really thankful for everyone that has been checking out my remixes and tunes. If you ever have any questions or just want to say hey, hit me up on twitter: http://twitter.com/maxtannone
Thanks again for the interest!
Thank you Max, we're stoked to see what you're up to next. Keep up the good work!