Sometimes, the word innovator is used too often, but in the case of Saint Petersburg born DJ Vadim, innovator is a fitting description of this veteran DJ and producer. Over the past twenty years, DJ Vadim has DJ-ed in sixty-nine countries, played over 2,500 times and still found time to found his own record label and record nine solo albums. Soon that number will rise to ten, when DJ Vadim releases Don’t Be Scared on BBE Music, on 1st October 2012. This is DJ Vadim’s fourth release for BBE Music, following U Can’t Lurn Imaginashun, which was released in 2009. Like U Can’t Lurn Imaginashun, Don’t Be Scared is a fusion of styles, influences and ideas, with DJ Vadim constantly pushing the musical boundaries and reinventing his music. One thing DJ Vadim will never be accused of, is being predictable. While other artists have a “sound” and “style,” not DJ Vadim. His only rule is there are no rules. Everything and anything is possible. Although he describes his music as hip hop, DJ Vadim adds to his musical melting pot elements of electronica, funk, reggae, soul, trip hop, Afro Beat and boogie. So when you drop the needle on a DJ Vadim album, you’re about to embark on a roller-coaster journey where he reveals the contents of his musical melting pot. That’s why DJ Vadim is an innovator and why he was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2002, and is known as the John Coltrane of hip hop. With this unrivaled music pedigree, DJ Vadim’s forthcoming album Don’t Be Scared promises to be a roller coaster journey across genres. Before I tell you about Don’t Be Scared, I’ll tell you about DJ Vadim’s career.

It’s almost two decades since DJ Vadim first spun the wheels of steel in public, and since then, he’s played across the globe at some of the most prestigious venues and events. From playing at Glastonbury, to playing in front of forty-thousand people at the Moscow Street Ball, and appearances at the prestigious festivals like Sonar, Big Chill, Fuji Rock and the Notting Hill Carnival, these are just a few of the 2,500 events DJ Vadim has played at during his twenty year journey entertaining and educating dancers worldwide. However, DJ-ing is just one string to DJ Vadim’s bow.

After founding his own record company Jazz Fudge in 1994, DJ Vadim released his debut album Headz Ain’t Ready in 1995. That was the year DJ Vadim signed to Ninja Tunes, who he released four albums for between 1996. This was the U.S.S.R. quartet, which began with 1996s U.S.S.R. Repertoire (The Theory of Verticality) followed by U.S.S.R. Reconstruction (Theories Explained) following in 1998 and then 1999s U.S.S.R. Life From the Other Side and 2002s U.S.S.R. The Art of Listening. Having released four albums for Ninja Tunes, it would be another five years before DJ Vadim released another album. During that period, DJ Vadim was busier than ever, producing and DJ-ings. He collaborated with numberous artists, including The Herbaliser, Fat Freddy’s Drop and The Super Furry Artists. After working with other artists, the time came for DJ Vadim to release his next solo album. So DJ Vadim signed to BBE Music and would release his next album in 2007, when sadly, tragedy entered his life.

In 2007 DJ Vadim released his first album for his new label BBE Music. This was The Soundcatcher, with The Soundcatcher Extras following later in 2007. Then tragedy struck for DJ Vadim in 2007. He was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer, Ocular Melanoma. Thankfully, DJ Vadim recovered and two years later in 2009, released U Can’t Lurn Imaginashun on BBE Music. Two years later after further collaborations, plenty of globe-trotting DJ-ing trips, came DJ Vadim next albums. This was 2011s DJ Vadim Presents The Electric’s Life Is Moving. 

Now a year later, and DJ Vadim is back, with his tenth studio album Don’t Be Scared. The genesis of Don’t Be Scared has its roots in New Zealand, when DJ Vadim collaborated with of the country’s best musicians, including Fat Freddy’s Drops. Back in London, DJ Vadim was joined by a cast of guest artists that collaborated on Don’t Be Scared. This includes his long-term collaborator Yarah Bravo, The Electric’s Sabira Jade, funkster Greg Blackman, Hawaiian soul singer Karen Be and Jazz Bailey. They play their part in the twelve tracks that comprise Don’t Be Scared which DJ Vadim describes as “more pensive than previous albums” and “melancholy meets topical vibes.” Sounds compelling? It certainly does and I’ll now tell you about some of the highlights of Don’t Be Scared.

Hide ‘N’ Seek starts the compelling, roller-coaster musical journey that is Don’t Be Scared. Straight away, DJ Vadim grabs your attention, combining a captivating combination of spoken word samples, crunchy beats and a scratchy Bollywood recording. Add in washes of broody synths, scratches and a myriad of percussion and the result is a trippy, laid-back, cinematic soundscape. Think hip hop meets trip hop, with a twist of Bollywood. During the track, it seems anything is possible, and you learn to expect the unexpected. That’s what makes this such a compelling, captivating way to start Don’t Be Scared. 

Lemon Haze opens with a jangly piano before another of DJ Vadim’s starts throwing some more of his curveballs. He throws in a spoken world sample, adds stabs of urgent synths and pounding beats. Although ostensibly hip hop, percussion gives the track a Latin influence, while the dark moody synths remind me of Acid House and techno, giving the track a hypnotic old school sound. Add in bursts of vocals, a couple of scratches and spoken word samples to DJ Vadim’s melting pot, mix together for nearly seven minutes and you’ve the recipe for one of the most innovative tracks on Don’t Be Scared.

Of the twelve tracks on Don’t Be Scared, Lost My Love is one of the real highlights. It features Jazz Bailey, whose vocal is not unlike D’Angelo. His vocal is set against a  quite minimalist, understated arrangement. Just washes of synths and spacey, dubby drums accompany his heartfelt vocal. In dub style, effects like delay and echo are used on Jazz’s vocal. After four minutes thing change. The tempo speeds up and DJ Vadim adds percussion, to the thunderous drums and squelchy synths. He then unleashes effects on the occasional bursts of vocal. Here, DJ Vadim’s love of reggae, shines through as he fuses dub and hip seamlessly, creating one of the best tracks on Don’t Be Scared. 

Set Them Free features another of DJ Vadim’s guest artists, The Electric’s Sabira Jade. Here, three genres unite, Nu-Soul hip hop and reggae. The reggae influence sees a Jamaican toaster open the track, before giving way to Sabira’s vocal. She delivers some of the best lyrics on Don’t Be Scared. Sabira delivers an impassioned, frustrated, but hugely soulful vocal about the plight of South Africa’s miners. Throughout the track, dark synths, punchy beats and the Jamaican toaster accompany Sabira, adding to the song’s effectiveness. Two things make this a really powerful, track and one of Don’t Be Scared’s highlights, the lyrics and Sabira’s heartfelt, impassioned vocal.

When Akura Uprock begins, there’s a real African sound and feel to it, thanks to some glorious rhythms. You begin to wonder if you’re still listening to DJ Vadim, or whether someone’s slipped on an Afro Beat album. A dramatic whispered vocal from Gregory Blackman is joined by hypnotic rhythms, stabs of synths and pounding drums. Straight away, you realize that something special is unfolding. You’re drawn in, captivated and compelled. You’re taken on a journey, where the buzzing synths, chiming guitars and percussion create the soundtrack to your adventure. Handclaps, sweeping synths, chanted vocals and rasping saxophones all play their part in this glorious fusion of Afro Beat and hip hop, as DJ Vadim  reinvents himself and proves that he’s still an imaginative and innovative artist.

Take My Time is the second track on Don’t Be Scared to feature Jazz Bailey’s vocals. Crunchy, spacey drums and washes of synths combine to create an atmospheric backbeat for Jazz’s lilting, heartfelt vocal. The arrangement has an understated sound, that allows Jazz’s vocal to take centre-stage. Just stabs and washes of synths are joined by percussion and those crisp drums. There’s even a crackly sound that’s like listening to the warm, comforting sound of old vinyl. A series of beeps and squeaks give the track an Acid House sound, while there’s a trip hop influence present. When all this is combined, the result is a spacey, cinematic soundscape that coincidentally, sounds like something you’d expect to hear on an old Ninja Tunes album.

Closed Eyes, which closes Don’t Be Scared features a trio of DJ Vadim’s guest artists, Yarah Bravo, Pugz Atomz and Jazz Bailey. Here, elements of reggae and drum and bass are fused with a generous serving of hip hop. The contrast between Jazz’s laid-back reggae tinged vocal and Pugz and Yarah’s more aggressive, hip hop style of delivery is a compelling contrast. All the time, crispy drums resonate, echoing into the distance, while bassy synths are a constant companion. Later, drum and bass styled drums are all added to the mix, as the tempo quickens and buzzing synths add to the track’s drama. Throughout the track that warm, crackly comforting sound of worn vinyl is present as DJ Vadim’s twelve track, genre crossing album Don’t Be Scared draws to a bold, impressive close.

While I’ve only mentioned seven of the twelve tracks on Don’t Be Scared, I could’ve just as easily have mentioned any of these tracks. That’s how consistently high the standard and quality of music on Don’t Be Scared is. It’s a roller-coaster musical adventure, where DJ Vadim, forever the innovator, and forever reinventing his music, constantly crosses and combines musical genres. There’s everything from Acid House, Afro Beat, ambient, drum and bass, dub, hip hop, Latin, reggae, techno and trip hop within the twelve tracks on Don’t Be Scared, which is the proverbial musical melting pot. DJ Vadim takes all these influences and mixes them up, with a little help from his musical collaborators. Each artist plays their part in the sound and success of Don’t Be Scared, adding their own inimitable vocals. Of these vocalists, Jazz Bailey and Sabira Jade play their part in three of the best tracks on Don’t Be Scared. Jazz’s vocals on Don’t Be Scared and Take My Time are two of the best vocals, while Sabira’s vocal on Set Them Free is the most powerful, moving and soulful. When these vocals are combined with DJ Vadim’s innovative, imaginative fusion of musical genres and influences, the result is a hip-hop album for the 21st century. Although DJ Vadim is almost a veteran of modern dance music, yet again, he’s once again, managed to reinvent his music. In the process, DJ Vadim has created another album of cutting-edge, captivating and compelling music, Don’t Be Scared, which will be released on BBE Music, on 1st October 2012. Standout Tracks: Lost My Love, Set Them Free, Akura Uprock and Take My Time.


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