Signed to prestigious record label Ghostly International, Brooklyn-based drummer and musician Shigeto delivers a laid-back, genre-busting mix. Get into it.
Over the past 13 years, Ghostly International have slowly carved out a space for themselves as curators of some of the world’s finest cultural content. Showcasing a diverse range of immensely talented artists, musicians and designers, their roster includes i-D favourites Com Truise, Matthew Dear, and this week’s i-DJ, Brooklyn based beat-smith Shigeto (better known to his mom and dad as Zach). Born and raised in the home of Motown, Michigan, it’s not surprising that Zach makes music that is as melodically sound as it is beat-driven. Building a lush mix of synths, clicks and electronic fragments on a sturdy platform of percussion samples, each of Shigeto’s tracks blend a subtle mix of genres, borrowing elements of minimal, jazz, ambient-house and instrumental hip-hop. We caught up with the man himself to find out more about his journey starting out as a musician, his plans for the future and where he goes to get away from it all.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where have you come from? Where are you going? My name is Zachary Shigeto Saginaw. I am a drummer, composer and producer from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I’m going wherever this journey takes me.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up and where do you look to find new sounds now? I have always been influenced by the musicians around me. I feel to enjoy an artist’s music is one thing but when you know them personally, like them and respect them on top of their music, it’s a very powerful thing. Locals such as Tadd Mullinix (Dabrye) and Todd Osborne are among the many that influenced me growing up. These days I’m still influenced in the same way. I get to meet so many great people/musicians in my travels it’s hard not to be inspired.
How would you describe your music? And how do you go about putting together new tracks, is it quite an organic process or do you try to keep things structured? I would describe my music as experimental electronic / acoustic instrumental music with a hip-hop and jazz backbone. I try to ‘play’ as much as possible and sample myself instead of using records, stock sounds etc. There is no order. Every track is different.
Your work has a really strong visual, how important is the look of the album artwork to the feel of your music? Very. A release is both important and personal to me. It’s like your baby. The artwork is like the baby’s clothes! I say you can’t tell if a book is good by its cover but you can damn sure judge it.
What’s the best thing about where you’re from? The people and the music.
Where do you go to get away from it all? My fiancé has a small villa in the South of France. That works pretty well.
Got any advice for other budding musicians? Yes. Don’t pay attention to the noise. Hype is fleeting. Timeless music comes from truth and love. Don’t quit your day job with the intention of “going in and doing it” or whatever. I worked a day job till the moment they told me I had to leave. Work harder than the next person. Tonight when you go home are you going to watch TV? Go out for drinks? Or are you gonna hit the lab till dawn?
Tell us something we don’t know… My first musical alias was called ‘Frank Omura’ and was all electro and minimal techno.
Text: Thomas Curry