DJ White Shadow on his creative process with Lady Gaga, hip-hop, and capturing the Midwest sound

dj white shadow

DJ White Shadow, a premier DJ and producer from the Midwest, continues to make a name for himself as one of the creative forces behind Lady Gaga.

During a recent interview, the Detroit-raised, Chicago resident discussed the creative process of producing for Lady Gaga and the uniqueness of the Midwest sound.

How did you get the name, DJ White Shadow?

When I first started, I used to DJ at a club in Detroit. I was like one of the few white kids in the club and I would hide back in the DJ booth the whole time the party was going on. The club owner would always just walk by and be like, “white shadow, white shadow.” And then someone had the foresight to put it on the flyer at one point and it just kind of stuck.

How did you get connected with Lady Gaga?

I had a residency in LA on Sunday nights when they would let me play whatever I wanted. I was playing a mixture of old ‘90s and ‘80s hip-hop and some house music. Her creative director at the time came in and we ended up talking. So I sent him some tracks, but he didn’t tell me what they were for. She heard the songs and called me at 2 a.m. and left a voice mail to call her back. I called her back the next day and she answered the phone.

What is the creative process like when working with Lady Gaga?

In the beginning, all of these ideas are flying around. So as a producer for her, it’s just about capturing the idea and putting it in a context that you can address at a later time and know what to do with it. She has so many awesome ideas. So I catalog them and make sure she can access the information later. She’s great too because she writes her own songs. All the heat is coming from one source. She’s the most talented person I have ever met in my entire life.

What makes the Midwest sound in music so unique?

The reason why I stay in the Midwest is because techno was born in Detroit, Motown was born in Detroit. It’s like a hotbed for everything. House music was from New York — originally from disco, but it really made a home here in Chicago. It is like the Midwest is bonkers for music and that’s why I stick around because there’s always something going on somewhere. It’s a tight group of people here that all came up together. I bought a club when I first moved to Chicago and so all of us have been friends for a really long time and everybody is still working and plugging away and supportive. It’s a great town with lots of cool people and cool stuff to do.

 

A.R. Shaw
A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.



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