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Up Close and Personal: DJ Yoda

  • Published in Interviews
Breakfast of Champions dj yodacredit Cody Burridge
Credit Cody Burridge

Anyone can get 20 years, three albums, and a series of highly acclaimed mixtapes deep into the hip-hop game, but it takes a special breed of artist to also be able to flaunt a personalised answering machine message from the one and only Biz Markie. That artist is DJ Yoda, who returns to your ears on March 9th with Breakfast of Champions, his third album, and his first to be recorded with a live band. We caught up with him discuss the album, and find out the extreme lengths he’s prepared to go to ensure its success.

So for those readers who don’t know, why don’t you introduce yourself?

I go by the name of DJ Yoda and I play records, and have done for a while (laughs).

And I hear you’ve got a new album coming out?

Yes, this album is called Breakfast of Champions, and what makes it different to stuff that I’ve done in the past, is that it’s the first time I’ve done an album with a full live band. I’ve had a number of mixtapes out, and a couple of artist albums before this one, but the artist albums that I’ve done up to this point, obviously I’ve been working with samples or myself, and also working with different rappers on every track. So for instance on the last album I had MOP on one song, had Action Bronson for another song, had Boy George on another song, but I thought this time round, I really wanted to have the same focus on the whole album, and work with a band.

So you curated a little group of MCs and musicians right?

Exactly, yeah. It kind of came about through this venue in Manchester called Band On The Wall, and they do this yearly artistic residency, where they get someone involved… it’s government-funded, so they’ve got money, and they said, put together something new. They approached me and said well, can I put together a band, and that actually they put out adverts, saying who wants to be in a band with DJ Yoda, and so we had all these hundreds of artists who applied, and then I had to think about who do I want in my band, and start whittling it down and finding out who would be good to be in a band with.

The album’s called Breakfast of Champions, and I know the name of that comes from the name of the band, but where does the name of the band come from?

You know what, it’s a very simple answer to that… I just love breakfast (laughs). One of my things has always been that I just love breakfast.

What is your ideal breakfast?

Probably some very rare American breakfast cereal with a lot of different colours, marshmallows…

Fruit Loops?

Oh that’s like, standard stuff, I’m several levels deeper than that.

Have you been to Cereal Killer café yet?

Not only have I been there, I’m working with those guys.

Doing what?

Well they’re going to have a little popup shop, selling the album there. And then we’re taking out a little thing out on the road that involves us selling cereal and me DJing.

Sick! So with the new live band style, how would you say that’s changed how you put together a track? Or has it changed it?

Totally different actually. I come from like a hip hop background where you build tracks up with samples, so in the past the way that I’ve made music has been to collect samples of stuff that I like from wherever that may be. But this time round, it’s a lot more about jamming with a band, and finding which bits sound cool, and instead of using samples, using real instruments.

Do you find it easier to incorporate a wide range of influences, and take the track wherever you want?

It’s different really. The reason I do it this way, is because it’s a challenge for me, it keeps it interesting. I’ve been doing this for a long time man, like this is probably my 20th year of DJing, and the reason that I carry on, is that every year I try and do something different, that is testing myself a little bit. I want to do anything except tread water, I don’t want to do the same thing I did last year. A lot of that comes around through collaborations with other artists. I find that those are the most interesting things to do because it brings out a different side of what you do, and a different side of what they do. If I didn’t do that, then I’d be sitting in front of turntables and a computer by myself every day, it’s just better to have some interaction with another human being in some way.

So you’re finding it’s flowing much more with the live band at the moment?

Exactly man, and the way it worked with this band was that they came from all around the country. So we met up in Manchester and we had a week to intensively come up with ideas and record and rehearse, and having that pressure was a really good way of doing it, because you know that you’ve only got a certain amount of time, so no one is sitting around fiddling with their phones, everyone is giving it their full attention and really getting as much done as possible, and I find that’s a really good way to work, when you have some pressure like that.

So you mentioned the link up with Cereal Killer, so have you a got a tour to promote the album?

We definitely do yeah, it all kicks off next week. All the dates are on the website, but we’re heading round the UK, doing some festivals too, and there’s more dates to be announced as well, so my summer is gonna be travelling round with the band.

What do you reckon is the main difference between how your performances have been and how they will be with the band?

It’s hard to say because I feel like it’s early days with us. We had that week to rehearse and we did a wicked show which sold out in Manchester at the end of that, then we did one at Jazz Café in London, that sold out too. So we’re off to a wicked start, but we have a lot more to do. A lot of bands come up and they’ve known each other since school and they rehearse every week, and we’re like the opposite of that. We’ve just got together, so I feel like this is just the infancy of it.

The album is dropping fairly soon, do you feel prepared?

Yeah man, it’s crazy times now, it’s all kicking off. We’re in the full swing of it now, the album comes out March 9th, so things are busy, but like I said, I like it like that man. I’m much happier to be busy.

High intensity stuff

Yeah.

What’s the most dangerous thing you would do to promote the album?

Fuck man, nothing (laughs). I wouldn’t do anything dangerous to promote my album, the most dangerous thing I would do would be like, sit on the sofa.

Breakfast of Champions drops 9th March. You can order online from DJ Yoda's website.

See here the a video new video from "DJ Yoda Presents: Breakfast of Champions":