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The Mysterious Shiba San Breaks His Silence

Startled by the popularity of “Okay” the Frenchman hopes whatever he makes next will be just as infectious across the global dance floor.

by Zach Macklovitch
Sep 1 2014, 8:00pm

Photo by Alex Bershaw

A good mystery behind a DJ can always add to their allure but Shiba San is far more than just a veiled gimmick. With over 15 years in the industry the French producer's success is in no way a fluke, but rather a honed craftsman brought to fruition. We sat down with Shiba San for his first interview in North America to talk about how he made it to where he is, what it's like to finally get there, and what he has planned next.

THUMP: So this is your first North American Tour, how does it feel to cross the pond?
Shiba: I can't believe I got to start my tour in Chicago, it's such a mythic house city... I started listening to house music when I was really young with vinyl from the crates of Sounds of Chicago, that was really the start of my musical story.

To be honest I never realised that Americans had been waiting to see me and I never really expected that this many people were listening to my music out here. Every date has gone really well, I've been able to play the music I want to play and the crowds have been getting super into it.

Although Shiba San has only been around for a year or so, you've been in the music industry in France for almost 15 years. What's it like to now have this kind of international recognition?
I've had a couple international tracks before but you're right in the sense that I was always behind the scenes as the producer of someone else's song. Even though it wasn't my name it was my music and it wasn't ever really important for me to be famous as long as I was making the music and it was making other people happy.

Now my joy comes from being able to make the exact kind of music I want to make and to have no one telling me to change this or that. Not to mention the ability to tour and play shows with your own music is something pretty amazing. What's cool is how quickly it all came about. I never really tried to do this. When I started working in the industry there weren't really star DJs. Five or six years ago it wasn't the same at all, everyone played everyone else's songs and there really weren't the opportunities that are available today. When I noticed that I could now have the chance to tour and play my own music… I mean, what else could I ask for?

Speaking of DJs playing everyone else's songs, "Okay" was played by everyone this year. Did you know it'd be this big?
No, you never really know how well a song is going to do. You definitely know when a song isn't going to work [laughs] but you never really know when it's going to hit like that. I mean, you know when you have a track Like "Okay" with a good bassline, but you have no idea if other DJs will like it. Even if they do like it, will the people listening like it? And from there will it be a hit? If we knew when something would be a hit it'd be too easy and that's all we would do.

Was there a moment when you said to yourself "Well this is different" when a big DJ played the track or something along those lines? 
It's happened quite a bit, there are a lot of people I really respect that have played the track. I mean there are BIG people from different genres outside classical house, even EDM, that love playing this song and they've made it something for themselves which is really special. The first thing that was really shocking to me was that the track got signed to my favourite label. I've been a fan of Justin Martin and Claude VonStroke for a long time and signing "Okay" to Dirtybird was a huge rush.

What's next for Shiba San?
I don't really know... I just want everything to keep going as it started. I've had the chance to tour England and now America. In October I'll be touring around Australia, back to the United States, Brazil and Mexico. The next step is just to keep it going, to get back to producing, and to hopefully come out with another track that reaches as many people as "Okay" did.

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