By Hollie McGowan
VANCOUVER – Sometimes it’s necessary for one to temporarily depart from their roots in order to develop a true appreciation for them. For Michigan’s Zachary Saginaw, a.k.a. Shigeto, The New Monday is a representation of exactly that.
“Before I was searching for meaning,” reflects Saginaw from his home-base in Detroit. “What’s changed is my process in accepting myself as artist and accepting the flow of whatever comes out of me.”
For the last nine years, since his first release in 2008, Saginaw has gone deep into the realms of instrumental downtempo and trip-hop, a sound reminiscent of early Warp Records and Ninja Tune, yet through his own lens as a drummer trained in the art of jazz. His exploration through experimental nuances and rhythm within electronic music has proven a worthy endeavor, leading him to develop his own distinct sound of layered percussion and trippy melodies.
However, The New Monday has been a new direction for Saginaw, and a reestablishment into his own community. Coming full circle has allowed him to reexamine his musical foundations and fully immerse himself into Detroit’s nightlife and culture, yet through mature eyes and an experienced outlook. What has resulted is an album which is more focused on the dancefloor, bringing its listeners into the various clubs within Detroit’s underground. The title of the album itself a reference to his own regular event within the city.
“It is a play off the name of a weekly night that I have in Detroit,” says Saginaw. “Initially I didn’t know what to call this record, but as I was writing music for it and curating the track list, I realized that the music was [like the] stuff that I had been playing every week while DJing… It’s a palate of sounds of Detroit, Michigan-inspired music through my eyes. I might sound manic, like, ‘Oh, there’s this techno track, and there’s this jazz ballad, and there’s this rap song,’ but what’s connecting it is [that they are all] influences of mine from here [in Detroit] and growing up [in Ann Arbor]. This record is like my ode to Michigan, just being back here and being an actual part of the community.”
Detroit’s music history is well-known for its richness and complexity. Dire political circumstances have historically driven its populous to deal with their hardships through art. Expressing their frustration while keeping themselves busy has given life to groundbreaking genres and styles of electronic sound. For Saginaw, being a part of the scene on the ground-level has given him a new-found respect and feelings of solidarity for those who have chosen to continue producing music, despite all odds.
“For the people that are from here, and have been here, life is a struggle, and within that struggle, you have to create your own world and your own reality. The demand for that need to create your reality is greater. I think within that, the DYI attitude and the possibilities are just so much bigger with the DYI mentality here,” explains Saginaw. “There are more quality independent record labels running in Detroit and in the Michigan area than there are places to buy groceries. There is a concentration of people that love music, make it, and then put it out themselves no matter what. Half of them are not on social media.”
The relationship between art and politics is no doubt a fascinating one. When times get tough, the human race will naturally band together, resulting in innovative ideas and creativity. 2017 has been no exception to this unspoken rule.
“Whether it was conscious or not, many of us all over the world, artistically active people or not, political people or not, we all got more of the sense that we have to do something, whether it was for others or for ourselves,” he ponders. “I think it also brought a sense of solidarity for people to start coming together and start breaking down these racist and sexist barriers. When the sense of urgency is at an all-time high, it brings a sense of motivation, and inspiration, and solidarity.”
This November, Saginaw makes his return to Vancouver, and he’s bringing his fresh approach and new experiments in sound with him.
“If you like King Tubby, or like really dubbed out psychedelic psych-rock, you’re going to like this.”
Shigeto plays the Imperial on November 18.Downtempo, EDM, Ghostly International, HOUSE, J-Pop, Techno, Underground Hip-Hop