Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on Jan 6th 2010 11:00AM by Laura Leebove
After releasing work on Definitive Jux and XL Recordings, RJ decided to start his own label, RJ's Electrical Connections, and he also bought back the masters from his old albums, which are being rereleased through his new outlet. He says part of the reason for RJ's Electrical Connections is that it's far less important today for an artist to put out music through someone else than it was when he started more than 15 years ago.
"If I wanted to do other side projects, it was a lot of wrangling to be able to do what I wanted," RJ tells Spinner of being signed to a label. "For a number of reasons, the most sensible path forward was to do it myself. I can not only have control over the record but also have control over everything else I want to do."
Whereas on 'The Third Hand' RJ only wrote music that he could perform himself, with 'Colossus' he wrote with no boundaries. "I tried to write the vocal and instrumental parts appropriate for the song and let the song become what it wanted to become," he says. "If it was something that was within my capability then I'd take it on, and if it wasn't within my capability -- whether it be an instrument I couldn't play or a vocal part that I couldn't pull off -- then I would reach out and work with someone else for that particular song." Among the collaborators on 'Colossus' are Kenna ('Games You Can Win'), Heather Fortune ('Tin Flower') and Phonte Coleman ('The Shining Path').
RJ's live shows have also evolved since the start of his career. He says that while touring he learned that his live sets fare best with a combination of full-band tracks and solo performances. "In 2007, I was trying to convert as much of the material as I could to work with a full band," he says. "Last year, I was with a band but not promoting a particular record. I changed the format so a much larger part of the show I do by myself."
He also started using a computer interface standard in the DJing world, which allows him to manipulate MP3 files on turntables instead of the traditional method of switching out vinyl records. It's not the same as outputting tracks solely from a computer, and while RJ says fans can't necessarily tell the difference just from watching one of his shows, he doesn't think it should matter.
"There are always gonna be the nerds, like me, the guy that came of age in an era when it took development in a particular skill set to DJ. We're a relatively small portion of people," he says. "I just don't think people seem to care, and I don't want people to care! I'm not coming from a perspective of, 'Oh, I spent all these years banging out a horseshoe and then Henry Ford invented the car.' I'm not an angry old man about this."