DJ Logic is the most successful DJ you've never heard of. The Bronx native has been in the game since the mid 80's but, like his approach to the one and the two, his audience has been wholly eclectic. First embraced by the Downtown jazz scene, Logic has lurked in the space between genres, working off of collaborations with musicians as diverse as BB King and the B-52's, with?uestlove and Mos Def in between. His new disc, Zen of Logic, is more than just a beats album; it's a sonic sculpture true to the touch of every artist he's yet encountered. This is an album for the headphones as much as for the club and you may well find yourself melting on the dance floor as much as bouncing in your beanbag chair. His scratch and cross-fade trickery rivals the best, but Logic often leaves the pyrotechnics in the backpack, allowing his textures the space and oxygen to speak for themselves. His tracks are chock full of special guests, often live instrumentalists, yet no tune is a mere pedestal for displaying a featured MC or soloist. In Logic's world every aural color is created equal and is best applied whatever way best enhances your listening-space. Logic is rapt in reminding us where hip hop came from and what hip hop ought to be -- music.
MVRemix: First, compliments on the new disc. Zen of Logic just came out on Ropeadope.
DJ Logic: Thanks man…
MVRemix: What can listeners expect on first listen?
DJ Logic: I think listeners can expect to move and groove from beginning to end on the first run.
MVRemix: How about on the sixteenth?
DJ Logic: By the sixteenth I hope listeners can close their eyes, hear a lot of color going on in the musical crevices and become part of the Zen.
MVRemix: On the track level as well as that of the album, there's an overwhelming lushness, but in the end Zen's a hard-hitting boom-bap album. What luxuries has the studio setting afforded your beat-production?
DJ Logic: Well the studio definitely allows me the luxury of controlling my environment, set the atmosphere and mood with necessities like incense, candles and chronic!
MVRemix: What role did Scotty Hard play on the album?
DJ Logic: As always, Scotty is my third ear … he fine tunes and engineers every track, brings my albums to life with creative ideas.
MVRemix: What title, if any, best suits you -- DJ, turntablist, producer, musician, samurai?
DJ Logic: All of them, I love to be versatile … Really I think of myself as a musician first, but as I learn and grow as a musician and DJ, instinctually my role as a producer strengthens and my curiosity to delve into other areas of the music industry peaks.
MVRemix: Besides collaborating with Scotty Hard, Sub-Con, Melvin Gibbs, Antibalas, Charlie Hunter, and John Medeski appear on the album. In light of your reputation as a musician's DJ, how important has collaboration been in hatching musical ideas?
DJ Logic: Collaboration is very important, it opens my mind, enhances my skills - it is the inspiration of other musicians that influences my learning process and the growth process.
MVRemix: Is the process different when you work with MC's as opposed to instrumentalists?
DJ Logic: Yeah, a little bit - when working with any type of vocalist I approach the musical organization, or the structure of the music differently than if I was collaborating rhythm structure with musicians or musical instruments and arrangements.
MVRemix: Do you ever approach a piece with a particular artist in mind?
DJ Logic: Yes, I knew that on Zen of Logic I wanted to write an Afro beat tune and even before the song was written I could hear in my head the horn section from Antibalas and knew those cats would be a perfect fit … I was glad they wanted to work with me on Zen of Logic because the song came out just as perfect as I imagined it would.
MVRemix: What is a future dream project you haven't yet taken on?
DJ Logic: I definitely want to conduct an orchestra one day, or tour with an orchestra as the backdrop to my turntables and another future dream project would be to have my own label as I think this would give me an incredible creative outlet as well as I would love to produce new artists that I sign to the label.
MVRemix: You've built much of your career on live performance -- first DJ to headline the Blue Note, heavy festival touring, sundry projects within straight jazz, funk, rock and bluegrass idioms. Do you feel like you approach the turntables differently than most DJ's?
DJ Logic: Absolutely. I approach the turntables as an instrument and I approach live music performances as a musician first and that sets me apart from most DJ's. I also delve into many different styles and genres that most DJ's are not known to explore.
MVRemix: So many DJ's have sampled the JB's over the years but you hold the rare distinction of having actually performed live with the likes of Fred Wesley. Any thoughts on the progress of hip-hop from a revisionary extension of jazz back around to the live setting?
DJ Logic: I'm not sure I understand the full scope of this question… I think hip hop is getting back to it's old skool roots and trying to capture that organic feeling that you get when you listen to soul, blues and jazz… I think regardless of the genre, musicians try and capture or copy the rhythms of predecessors who they have been influenced by.
MVRemix: Because of your success in the live setting, do you feel like you've had trouble getting recognition within the hip-hop arena?
DJ Logic: Yes and No, depends on the level of hip hop - Maybe I'm not traditional enough or rap oriented enough for mainstream hip hop but I have a nice brotherhood and kinship amongst many in the underground and independent hip hop scenes…
MVRemix: Who do you imagine listening to your music while you're in the process of building a track?
DJ Logic: I don't really imagine who is going to listen to the music while I'm building a tune, I just hope that once the end product is recorded that my current fans understand the place I was coming from when I made the tune or album. I also always hope that my music is progressive enough to grasp the attention of new audiences and open the mind of new generations of turntablists and musicians.