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An Interview With: Shigeto

Shigeto is the stage and middle name of Zachary Saginaw, a Detroit based drummer and producer of downtempo electronic music rooted in hip-hop and jazz, who is one of the leading acts performing at this edition of Magnetic Fields in Alsisar Mahal (Rajasthan).

To say we’re excited about seeing the Ghostly International signee perform live wouldn’t do justice to his work. The musician’s production sees influence from a host of different musical forms and he’s known for almost obsessively recording field samples on his iPhone. Shigeto’s lush and intensely pretty sound sees him layer tinkering, patterned chimes and bells over textural rhythm. Despite the immaculate production, his work is never overwhelmed by technology and still feels very personal.

Read anything about him and you’ll know that Shigeto considers himself first and foremost a drummer, and percussion lies not only at the heart of his production but also his hugely improvisational live performances, which usually see him employing a drum kit. We’ve embedded a little video of a performance below for you to gauge just how immersive his live shows are.

2015 has been a busy year for Shigeto. He released his first solo EP ‘Intermission’ after 2013’s ‘No Better Time Than Now’ album, recorded an absolutely stunning meditative, experimental jazz record with trumpet legend Dave Douglas and is currently in the process of building his very own studio. We got in touch with (the very busy) Shigeto and spoke about all that and more before his maiden trip to India.

How’s it going?

I'm surviving, making a modest living from making and sharing my music with the world. I can't complain.

Are you excited about your trip to India? What are you looking forward to most?

Excited would not be enough to describe my anticipation for this trip. I've never been to India or anywhere else like it. I'm really looking forward to meeting some local musicians and maybe getting some good field recordings.

What did you grow up listening to in Detroit?

I grew up listening to a lot of jazz and soul from my father's record collection. Michigan music was always a huge influence of mine.

Tell us a few people who are inspiring you right now, in the current musical landscape.

Very inspired by Oneohtrixpointnever has been doing over the past couple years. I'm also really looking forward to Mark Pritchard's next release on Warp. I got to hear some sneak previews and it blew my mind.

You released the incredible ‘High Risk’ LP earlier this year - an improvised jazz and meditative electronic music album with Jonathan Maron, Mark Guiliana and trumpeter Dave Douglas, through his Greenleaf Label. How did that come about?

It all happened very naturally. Most of the music was improvised at the session and it was our first time playing together.

I think we wanted to create new, improvised music and all bring our own sound to the table without it falling apart hence...high risk.

You’ve mentioned before that jazz (and hip-hop) form the back-bone of your music, which then branches off into different directions. Do you think (based on an album like 'High Risk') that you’ll ever go full circle and start making straight up jazz again?

I'd love to. As soon as I have my studio built I'll be focusing a lot more on recording sessions with more musicians.

On a continual note – have you ever thought about the kind of music you think you’ll be making when you’re 60? Or whether you’ll be making music at all?

I hope to be healthy and still making music at 60. Maybe along a more ambient vein.

Let’s talk about your first solo release since 2013’s ‘No Better Time Than Now’. Why title the EP ‘Intermission’? Could it represent the need for a breather?

It is most definitely a breather. A breath of fresh air before a final act maybe.

We heard in an interview that if you weren’t making music you’d be in the food industry. What is the absolute worst thing you’ve ever tasted in your life?

The worst thing I've ever tasted was taking a huge swig from a warm beer can full of cigarette butts.

What’s the best gig you’ve ever played live and why?

Playing the only full live band Shigeto show at the Detroit Symphony. It was a dream. I'd take it on the road if it wasn't so hard financially.

Do you know what the next step is for Shigeto?

I'm currently building a new studio from the ground up. Then the next record!

Send us a gif that speaks to your soul.

THIS SPEAKS TO MY SOUL SO LOUDLY --->

Interviewed by Diya Gupta

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08 December 2015

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