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MUSIC BOX: DJ Vadim Headlines Weekend
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Vadim: Vintage, veteran DJ
The prolific and ever-evolving DJ Vadim – born in Leningrad, USSR, raised in London and currently hopping planes between New York and Berlin – is somewhat of an anomaly. Born Andrey Gurov, his musical adventure is approaching its 20th year, taking him across 69 countries and totaling more than 2,500 performances at some of the world’s most prestigious events including as Sonar, Glastonbury, Big Chill, and Moscow Street Ball, where he performed to more than 40,000 people.
As I spin his live mix from a show in Billsville, Philadelphia, the complexities of the driving hip-hop and reggae drum programming is laced with prominent ethnic sounds via Asia, Africa and South America. The major distinguishing divide between what Vadim delivers and a live drum and bass outfit is a stuttering, broken precision in the beats that always seem to fit. His upper tier of producing has originated from talent, ultimately propelled through unwavering persistence. However, when you get to hit the switches while working with artists like Stevie Wonder, The Roots, Prince, and Sly and The Family Stone, the snowball effect is undoubtedly a peak-reaching push.
“There’s a saying, if you spend 10,000 hours on your craft, you could become a grand master,” Vadim said backstage at Soul Partizan in London. “When I think of certain producers like Quincy Jones. He was always a very talented musician, and his early stuff is also incredible. But when he started working with Chaka Khan and Michael Jackson, it feels like he brought into those projects so much experience that the breakthrough Michael Jackson album may not have been incredible had it not been for Quincy Jones.”
Vadim is articulate, internationally cultured and unassuming. To him, John Coltrane’s “A Kind of Blue” and “Anything” by James Brown are two of the most impressive songs that he could keep on repeat, and Billy Idol was his childhood hero. He’s the restless type, forever searching for the next challenge.
Even after getting diagnosed in 2007 with Ocular Melanoma, a very rare eye cancer that required a whirlwind surgery, he hardly slowed down. The following year, he toured worldwide with Fat Freddy’s Drop, DJ Krush and Slick Rick. The year 2008 also found Vadim writing for a new album, which brought him to new expressions and even skills. That album, U Can’t Lurn Imaginashun, debuts Vadim’s foray into playing keyboards and disguised singing through a vocoder, talkbox and auto-tune.
As early as 1999, he was described by Record Mart & Buyer as “one of the few artists creating genuinely new work in the hip-hop field.” Fourteen years later, knowing that a steadfast work ethic never rests, curiosity alone may lure you to this dance party.
DJ Vadim, 10 p.m. on Wednesday at the Pink Garter Theatre. $10 at The Rose, Pinky G’s and PinkGarterTheatre.com.
Big Fat Booty funk
Intergalactic funk comes in the form of Onward!, released last month via Asheville’s Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band. They’ve become regulars in these parts and even on the West Coast. Evidenced on instrumental tracks “Sanchez” and “Juices & Berries,” horn-based costume party music has long been the band’s forte. And while they proclaim that their brand of groove will have your “Trunk Fallin’ Off,” you’re still likely to leave the show in one piece, despite a sweaty mess.
Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, 10 p.m. on Saturday at Town Square Tavern. $10. 733-3886.
Photo cutline: Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band delivers the funk.