In a varied and groundbreaking career, Yoda has been involved with everything from a percussion project with Dame Evelyn Glennie to a Concerto for Turntables & Orchestra with composer Gabriel Prokoviev and this year he toured festivals with London’s 14-piece Trans-Siberian March Band. It may have its genesis in the world of samples and loops but with new album ‘Chop Suey’, Yoda has blossomed into an artist of a different calibre.  He can tour the globe from Kenya to Dubai and his video shows are an unrivalled audio-visual extravaganza – but now he’s truly found his feet as a producer too. Dan Prince gets the exclusive.

Welcome back to DMCWORLD dude. A brand new album swinging our way ‘Chop Suey’ which comes ten years after the first instalment of your seminal ‘How To Cut & Paste’ series. Let’s kick off with the title name, what’s behind that?

“The idea behind the dish of chop suey was that Chinese immigrants in the US would make the best dish they could out of anything and everything that was available. I thought that sounded like my “Cut and Paste” ideas, and also like the idea of hip-hop itself – you take all your influences, mix them up together and come up with something new.”

Well where do we start with the album? You have compiled the most varied list of collabs I think I have ever seen. Everyone from Action Bronson, Boy George, Police Academy’s Michael Winslow to Roots Manuva. How long did this album take to create?

“Way too long! I learned a lot of important lessons making this album – because really I was working on it for six years! But putting in like a day a week, in between touring and everything else I’ve been doing. I think the next time I make an album I will be blocking off a period of time and recording more intensely.”

‘Happy’ features the vocals talent of British icon Boy George – what prompted you to enlist one of Britain’s greatest icons?

‘A few themes started emerging with the various vocalists I was getting on the album: current rappers who I’m feeling (Action Bronson, Sway, Afrikan Boy, Scroobious Pip), golden era rappers (M.O.P., Greg Nice), and then 80s icons (Kid Creole, Michael Winslow). So Boy George easily fitted into that last category. Plus, I heard his cover version of Lana Del Ray’s “Video Games” and realised that his voice is so incredible – it’s matured like a fine wine!”

One of the songs on ‘Chop Suey’ you are most proud of is ‘Big Trouble in Little China’ featuring the startling New York-Albanian rapping chef Action Bronson alongside Brit soul belter Alice Russell – what’s the story there?

“I just feel like rap music is starting to get good again in 2012, and Action Bronson is one of the reasons why. He’s a true entertaining personality, in the way that my favourite rappers from the past were. I wanted to elevate this track above just a loop and some rhymes, so I did some proper song-writing, and wrote a hook that needed some female vocals. Alice Russell’s stuff has been about as good as modern soul gets, so I asked her straight away.”

What else are your highlights, we are loving Scroobius Pip and his exhaustive history of ’80s computer games and Nice & Smooth partying it up on ‘Charlie Sheen’. This album is one whole lot of fun dude…

“Yep, I just wanted it to reflect all the different styles of music that I’m into, and sound like one of my DJ sets – so there’s that hip-hop basis, but I think I definitely touch on drum & bass, dub step, grime, Afrikan music, house, reggae, funk, soul, pop, trap, dancehall, moombahton all on this album!”

Who really surprised you in the studio?

“Michael Winslow from Police Academy was hilarious. He doesn’t switch off, he’s just constantly making crazy noises. I went to open the door handle of the studio and he made the Star Trek door opening noise. The engineer in the studio didn’t stop giggling the whole day.”

What is the track do you think that is going to cause the most damage on the dancefloor?

“Surprisingly, I’d say the one with the Trans Siberian March Band – it’s the first ever Balkan brass band / UK bass collaboration!”

Was there anyone that escaped your grasp on your album wish list, maybe someone for next time…

“Yep. Don’t wanna give it away, but there’s one person in mind that I felt one song with wouldn’t be enough – I want to ask her to collaborate with me for a whole album. Not saying who in case she says no!”

You are kick starting a brand new nationwide tour on September 22nd – what can we expect a night on tour with DJ Yoda?

“I’m gonna be combining my AV show with a lot of music from the album – so it’s somewhere between a DJ set, a live show, a video show, an art installation and a big party.”

What are the tunes you are spinning at the moment?

“I’m on the beach at the moment so it’s going to be difficult to name names, but I’ve definitely been playing a lot of trap stuff, and some newer hip-hop too. And weird remixes of my own stuff.”

You’ve had another long summer of festivals, we’re all looking forward to Bestival this weekend. Tell us some of the big outdoor dates you’ve enjoyed this summer?

“Oh wow – Shambala in Canada was pretty much the craziest festival I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to a lot of festivals. I guess the best way of describing it is something like Burning Man but in a remote forest. Plus I played at The Do-Over in LA, which is an outdoor club on a Sunday afternoon that was completely amazing.”

What is your favourite ever festival story that always comes out down the pub?

“There’s one very long-winded one that ends up with me getting an MP from Jersey fired! I’m sure it’s online somewhere, you should Google it!”

How important was growing up in London to your eventual musical direction?

“I think things like pirate radio and Carnival have definitely affected what I’m doing today. I remember getting into Westwood parties under-age to see Wu-Tang Clan – that kind of thing.”

Who are the producers around the world you are giving high fives to at the moment?

“I loved the Frank Ocean album this year. I’m always interested in anything Kanye produces too. And for dance stuff – Dillon Francis, Nick Thayer, Skream (who remixed my track with Boy George) – tonnes of other people.”

You’ve had another busy year exploring the world DJing – have you discovered any new musical scenes on your travels?

“It’s always interesting to note what music is working in different parts of the world for me – I tend to play very different stuff if I’m in China, Australia or Germany! South Africa next week should be interesting…”

What are your thoughts on the current state of dance music in the UK?

“A lot of stuff is very throw-away – and I’m not so interested in that kind of thing. I like people that don’t try and fit too hard into a scene and just do their own thing. There’s a lot of music out there, so it’s always easy to find good and bad.”

Dead or alive, who are the 5 famous people you invite around to the ultimate dinner party and which DJ do you ask to spin after desert?

“Johnny Cash, John Lennon, John F Kennedy, John Turturro and John Hughes. DJ – Kid Capri.”

Not many people know this but DJ Yoda is really good at?

“Streetfighter 2. If I can play Ryu.”

What is the record that changed your life?

“Double Dee & Steinski ‘Lesson 3’.”

And finally, it’s a ‘Wildlife’ theme at Bestival this weekend, what’s your fancy dress outfit?

“A dead badger.”


‘Chop Suey’ – is released on November 5th on Get Involved

‘CHOP SUEY’ LIVE DATES: 22nd SEPT, CHELMSFORD, Hooga; 23rd SEPT, TUNBRIDGE WELLS, Playgroup Festival; 29th SEPT, BIRMINGHAM, Aston University; 10th OCT, EXETER, Exeter University; 19th OCT, MANCHESTER, Sound Control; 20th OCT, HATFIELD, The Forum; 26th OCT, EDINBURGH, Liquid Rooms; 27th OCT, SOUTH WALES, Warehouse 54; 31st OCT, LIVERPOOL, Shipping Forecast; 9th NOV, HULL, The Welly; 10th NOV, LONDON, Forum; 16th NOV, READING, Sub 89; 17th NOV, SUNDERLAND, Independent;  23rd NOV, DUBLIN, The Twisted Pepper;  24th NOV, BRISTOL, Lakota; 30th NOV, GLASGOW, The Arches; 1st DEC, BRIGHTON, Coalition; 7th DEC, SOUTHAMPTON, Orange Room; 8th DEC, WAKEFIELD, Mustangs.



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