Dan the Automator Is The World’s Most Low-Key Super Producer
Dan the Automator might just be the most low-key super producer on earth. No spotlight seeker, Dan’s quietly been producing some of the world’s best albums for over 20 years, including works by Kool Keith, Gorillaz, and Deltron 3030. He’s also put out a number of solo projects and is one half of the iconic Handsome Boy Modeling School duo alongside Prince Paul. When we heard there was a new Handsome Boy Modeling School album in the works, O.N.S had Dan over to our Greene Street flagship store to chat about music, social media, and his favorite items of clothing.
We heard there’s a new Handsome Boy Modeling School album coming. Now that everyone acts like a model with their own iPhones and Instagram and stuff, what will the message of the new record be?
Spend the $60. This isn’t a game for amateurs. Stay in your lane.
From working with Kool Keith to Handsome Boy Modeling School and Gorillaz, you’ve always pushed the limits of what defines Hip-Hop. How were able to do this while still making stuff that you thought might appeal to hardcore Hip-Hop fans?
I didn’t make music designed to appeal to anyone. I do try to make good music, but I think it is more akin to a painter learning the rules and styles, then disregarding them as I went along. Hopefully people will like my music, but it has kind of existed—for better or worse—in its own lane.
You’re from the West Coast, right? I’ve always thought your work had hints of some of that old pre-gangster rap, pre-G Funk West Coast Hip-Hop that a lot of people don’t know too much about. Do you agree? If so, is that a conscious effort to acknowledge that stuff or do you think it’s just a natural part of how your work comes out?
I think originally, I was influenced more by New York hip-hop, but I listened to all types of music, so a lot of varieties and styles creep into my productions.
Which brings me to my next question. You seem to integrate many styles of music into your work. So, outside of Hip-Hop, what’s your favorite kind of music? Who are your favorite artists?
I like alternative rock, old R&B, soul, easy listening, funk, jazz, classical, psych rock, old country, and pop. Stuff like Serge Gainsbourg, The Beach Boys, Can, Radiohead, The GoGos, Duran Duran, New Order, and The Clash.
Hip-hop and music have been so influential in terms of style and fashion over the years. What’s your favorite item of clothing to wear?
A good ascot and monocle can go a long way.
Be sure to follow Dan the Automator on IG here
Photography: Eduardo Brassai