Toronto-based producer and DJ, Paul Chin is kickin’ it with fluid style, mellow grace, and all-around good vibes on his latest release, the Full Spectrum EP, which dropped March 20, 2020, via The Nautilus Foundation. Channelling some distilled positivity, which we all need right now, Chin is a calm ray of energy in an increasingly divisive and angry world.
But, he’s not just resting on his tunes and giving in. His newest endeavours, the livestream series of HOMEWRK and DISCOTECH, just kicked off and are helping to spread the musical love while we’re still in isolation – one’s a bi-weekly DJ set and the other is a twice-weekly look at the studio process. You can check them out Monday and Thursday afternoons and every second Friday night on Chin’s Twitch Channel.
Plus, on top of all that redness, we have the man himself joining us for this Stereo Six to dish on the albums that helped shape his newest EP. From Flying Lotus to the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra, this one is eclectic and inspiring, so explore the six entries and enjoy Paul Chin’s slick tunes.
1. J Dilla – Donuts (2006, Stones Throw Records)
“It actually took me a few years to really ‘get’ Donuts. Like many people, I was familiar with Dilla’s work long before I knew who he was, so when I heard this weird, stream-of-consciousness beat tape/debut album/hip-hop phenomenon, I was immensely confused. I’m not sure exactly when the switch flipped in my head, but one day I just ‘got it,’ and that album now serves as a litmus test for my headspace (what track do I find myself gravitating toward at any given point?), as well as a reminder that gems of inspiration are everywhere, hidden in plain sight. I aspire to someday be so locked into inspiration, I can make music in which the ‘thing itself’ lies just behind the surface, staring listeners right in the face, as if to test them.”
2. Hudson Mohawke – Lantern (2015, Warp)
“The thing I love about Hudson Mohawke is that he has the things he’s really obviously good at, and the things he’s quietly good at. The former would be huge drums and sample/melody treatments like everything is a rap song; the latter would be pulling from all kinds of far-reaching musical elements and traditions (instruments, scales, arrangements, etc.), and using the former to sneak all that music nerd stuff into the biggest bangers on planet earth. On Lantern, he delivers 47 minutes of some of the most academically appealing ideas, filters them through the texture and abrasion of someone who clearly comes from the club, and then convinces you it’s pop music.”
3. Tokimonsta – Lune Rouge (2017, Young Art Records)
“Tokimonsta is one of my favourite artists of all time, and probably the gateway by which I discovered almost everyone else on this list. I’ve followed her career almost since the very beginning and having traced the ups and downs of her journey toward carving out her own sonic voice has helped me make sense of a lot of the ideas I’ve wrestled with myself. Furthermore, Lune Rouge being an album she made after surviving a rare disease and a surgery that almost took her musical ability away from her is a great reminder that it’s a gift and a precious responsibility to make the music we get to, and the joy that comes with that is not to be taken lightly.”
4. Baauer – Aa (2016, LuckyMe)
“I’ve been telling people for years that I’m terrified Baauer will never make another full-length album again, and instead go down in history as ‘the guy who made Harlem Shake.’ Aa is a criminally underrated electronic album and an absolute masterclass in bringing global sounds into one’s own orbit. The features are mind-bogglingly good (Leikeli47, M.I.A., G-DRAGON, Pusha T, Future, among others), the runtime is just lengthy enough to feel satisfying while making you want more, and you never once get the feeling that you know exactly what Baauer’s schtick is (surprise: it’s that he’s actually an incredible producer).”
5. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead (2014, Warp)
“I never considered this to be my favourite Flying Lotus album, but I may have to take an audit and re-consider my ranking, because the older I get, the more I find in this album that speaks directly to my own artistic voice. The thing that I found in You’re Dead that really helped me hone my practice around making Full Spectrum, was not just the cinematic nature of it, but also the pacing. It carries the listener all the way through its narrative, but never lingers or allows one to get too comfortable in any given vibe before taking a sharp left turn to keep you engaged and curious. It’s actually shocking that it’s his shortest album because it feels incredibly rich, and each song somehow creates space for you to just sit in it and soak.”
6. Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Bob Sakuma) – Yu Yu Hakusho Symphonic Collection 1 (1995, Media Remoras)
“I love anime, I love Japanese City Pop, and I love orchestral arrangements: this album hits the trifecta. The thing about City Pop that I can’t get over, is how completely sincere and flamboyantly expressive it is. I don’t think anyone making or performing City Pop is capable of being cynical. It’s the same reason I love disco, so hearing that same energy brought to life with classic Japanese synths sweetens the pot for me. And then you take that same sincerity, and add the extra drama of strings and woodwinds? Forget about it. My goal is to have people break down cry-singing to my music in the club, and I’m going to learn everything I need to know about how to achieve that in my songwriting from this album.”