Backstage with…Ded Pixl
Jeremy Shapiro is a scruffy, soft-spoken, hoodie-wearer — everything about him is low-key. When I interviewed him over lunch yesterday, he explained to me that his DJ name, Ded Pixl, is to a nod to the fact that “I’m pretty nerdy.” He has a dry sense of humor that will sometimes sneak up on you, but his music is the one thing he doesn’t joke about.
He’s spent hours crafting and tinkering with his original tracks — experimenting with samples, effects and things I won’t claim to understand — and the work has definitely paid off.
During the lunch, we talked about his style, his influences, and the fact that the Beatles never learned to read music. And finally, I asked him to let the readers in on his favorite song:
Jeremy Shapiro: I guess I would say that I don’t have any one particular sound. Since I started making music I’ve moved through so many different kinds of sounds — from kind of a strange sort of rock to hip hop to rock/hip hop and lots of electronic music. I guess I’ve kind of settled on a style of hip hop inspired electronic music with a lot of influence from sampling artists like Cut Chemist, The Books and Bonobo.
JBK: You’ve already named a few, but tell me which DJs you try and emulate?
JS: Besides those three, I would say Four Tet — they are not so much hip hop based, but they’re great. I’d call them classical electronic musicians; they play with all of the classic techniques used by John Cage back in the ‘50s and ‘60s when electronic music was first starting — looping and wave scanning and all sorts of strange things. But Bonobo and Cut Chemist — just the way that they are able to take a sample and completely make it their own and turn it into new music is pretty amazing. It’s something that I try to incorporate — not nearly as successfully as they do — but I try to mix electronic techniques with techniques of sampling.
JS: I’m going to act like this is a hard decision, but definitely the Beatles.
JBK: Tell me your favorite album.
JS: I’ve got to answer this question by saying what my current favorite album is. That’s too hard of a question. I’m going to go with what I’ve been instinctively turning on almost every time I’ve flipped the power switch on my speakers these past couple of weeks/months: Metaphorical Music by Nujabes.
JBK: What is one thing the public misunderstands about Disk Jockeying?
JS: For the most part, I think people think that when a DJ goes up on stage, they just press play and act cool. I mean, that definitely happens, but no one likes the music that comes out of that, so it is not very successful. All the really good DJs are really active in their sets and have some parts lined up that they queue and sample and fuck with on the fly. If you listen to a DJ’s album, it’s never the same in their live performance. They are always changing it and making it different, more interesting, and I think that is something that people don’t realize.
JBK: What is one song that we should know and that we should love?
JS: “Kong” by Bonobo. You will just feel amazing while you listen to it. It’s — god — he just samples lots of live instruments and vocals and brings them together in a way where you just…………..Just listen to it.
Check out some more of Shapiro’s music at his website.
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