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For DJ Shadow, falling down musical rabbit holes is half the fun

Koury Angelo
Courtesy of the artist

DJ Shadow is not only a sampling pioneer and world-class producer, he's a true music anthologist.

His record collection, spread across multiple storage units, is in the tens of thousands, so it takes a lot to capture his attention. But when a friend sent him a link to an eBay listing for a collection of about 200 mixtapes filled with R&B and club music — all recorded off of the radio in the '80s — he took notice.

The music he heard inspired his latest album, Action Adventure. In this session, DJ Shadow talks about making a soundtrack for a movie in his mind, growing as a composer, and how he still diligently chases down undiscovered sounds, one musical rabbit hole at a time.

Set list

  • "Ozone Scraper"
  • "You Played Me"
  • "Dealer Choice"
  • "Free for All"
  • "Nobody Speak"
  • "A Narrow Escape"
  • "Friend or Foe"

This episode of World Cafe was produced and edited by Miguel Perez. Our senior producer is Kimberly Junod and our engineer is Chris Williams. Our programming and booking coordinator is Chelsea Johnson and our line producer is Will Loftus.