Over the course of five full-length albums and numerous mixes and collaborations, producer and songwriter RJD2 has always worked to stretch the definition of hip-hop, taking it to different audiences across the world (including the viewers of AMC’s “Mad Men”; his “A Beautiful Mine” acts as the show’s theme song). But to go perform for the house and trance enthusiasts of HARD, one of America’s best-known EDM promoters?
amNewYork caught up with the veteran producer as he prepared for HARD NYC and the release of “More Is Than Isn’t,” his fifth — and possibly most sonically diverse — album.
What does an indie hip-hop producer do for a show like the EDM-heavy HARD?
I really enjoy that experience of being an odd man out. I like playing in front of crowds that aren’t expecting to see me. I enjoy the challenge of having to win over crowds who might be expecting something different. But in the world of electronic music, I think that from a lineage perspective, they’re closer to what I do than you might think.
Your new album seems to embrace so many different styles from your career. What was your guiding principle when creating “More Is Than Isn’t”?
With this record, the overarching goal would be that I was trying to come at the music from an instinctual level. I was at a point in my life where overthinking the process of music wasn’t realistic. I was just doing. When you’ve got a kid, it recalibrates your perception of time. You don’t have the time to sit around and waffle about stuff. My time in the studio was limited, and I had to make instinctual judgments: Is this track worth pursuing? What part is? Everything on this record got an immediate reaction.
What would Don Draper think of the crowd at HARD?
I think we already know, from that episode when he went to see the Rolling Stones [“Tea Leaves,” season five]. I think he’d be off to the side, like a bystander, and not impressed.