During my time at the inaugural Goldrush Festival, I got the opportunity to connect with one of my longtime idols and favorite musicians in house music, and that is none other than the French all-star himself Shiba San. After dropping a killer set on the Birdhouse stage, I met up with him to talk about a lot of different things. The epicness ensues below…
Fadi: You’ve been known as a Dirtybird favorite since we always see you play at Campout or the BBQ events, but a lot of people don’t know you’ve also released on labels such as CUFF, Suara, and run your own label Basement Leak. What inspired you to pursue all these releases?
Shiba: I work a lot in the studio so I have a lot of tracks ready. If I only release on Dirtybird I’d have to put something out every month, which is not possible. I also make music that’s in different styles, so everything can’t be on Dirtybird. Suara sent me an email saying they wanted an EP from me, like a lot of others. I usually say no because I have a lot of requests, but when I like the label or I know the people like CUFF since Amine Edge & DANCE are from France, I say okay. I’ve released on 4 or 5 different labels now.
Fadi: What lead you to start Basement Leak?
Shiba: I started it about 1 or 2 years ago. In the beginning, it was just to release my own track Burn Like Fire. After that, I received demos from people and I thought okay maybe I can sometimes do releases but 2 years ago I wasn’t focused on that. I was focused on my own career and tracks so I didn’t really work on it. Since maybe 6 months ago I decided to work on it more so I hired a Label Manager and more people around me. Now I receive a lot of demos from people, usually unknown and I like that because I want to help people sign their music anywhere. In the beginning it was just for my own music but once I got demos I figured why not?
Fadi: This year you had your own stage at Groove Cruise, was that the first time you did something like that in the US?
Shiba: In the world! When my manager announced that I’d have my own stage I was like wow, that’s amazing. I have only 5 releases on my label so at the moment it’s small, I didn’t expect that. I don’t know how we did it, but I was so happy. It was the next level for my label.
Fadi: What is your long-term goal for Basement Leak, like in the next year?
Shiba: I will have my own stage again for Groove Cruise Miami, but maybe we will do more events like Basement Leak after parties. For 2018 we will definitely work more on having more events. I need to have more releases as well so I can bring people from Europe over. It’s honestly been amazing.
Fadi: Would you say that Basement Leak will be your priority over releasing on other labels?
Shiba: Honestly I don’t care, as nice as it is to release on different labels, I like to have my tracks approved by other DJ’s. I don’t want to just be by myself, only release on my label, and play on my stage, I’m not really for that. Maybe in a few years, but in the moment I need to sign on different labels because I love that. Like when I did the track with Green Velvet and signed on Relief, for me it was amazing.
Fadi: Yes, so tell me about your new EP with Green Velvet. How was that process for you?
Shiba: Green Velvet was telling me for about a year that we need to make a track, but it was always during festivals or on stage. I didn’t really think he was serious, after that I met him up for breakfast after a festival in Canada and he said “Fred we need to make a track together, I have an idea…” and that’s when I knew he really wanted to do it. We both worked on different things and sent music to each other. I was supposed to do only 1 track, then I had the 2nd track, then a 3rd track, and then 4. Four is the maximum but it was a special EP and it was so so so cool to work with him.
Fadi: It’s like a dream come true!
Shiba: Of course! All I do every day is like a dream come true. I started from nothing 4 years ago, and now I work with the biggest names in the business. Each time I do something like release on Dirtybird, Okay becoming #1, playing the main stage at Escape, it’s all a dream come true. It’s crazy.
Fadi: Speaking of all that, what got you into house music? Have you always been a musician?
Shiba: Before, I was in hip-hop as a producer and DJ. Nobody really knew me or my work. I had friends in house music so I knew of it and went to WMC a lot just to enjoy the parties. When I decided to switch, I didn’t enjoy hip hop anymore and I didn’t like what happened. I was in it for almost 10 years and everything changed a lot, it became very commercial.
Fadi: When you first switched, who were some artists that inspired you?
Shiba: Honestly, I was in love with Justin Martin’s music 5 years ago which played a big part in my switch. It’s hard to say who else inspired me because there are hundreds of house tracks that get released every day. So I’m inspired by everything.
Fadi: That’s a great way to look at it. Any stuff in the works that you’re excited about?
Shiba: Now, I don’t have any releases planned but I have tracks ready. I’m going to wait a little bit and make more tracks. Right now I have 6 tracks finished that I play and test since I’m never in a rush to release music. Sometimes I’ll play a track then go back and change the bassline, or change the percussion, and I like to have 10 tracks ready before I start sending to labels. Last August, I actually had 18 tracks ready and most of them were released.
Fadi: So you don’t sit on tracks for too long?
Shiba: I make music every day. I don’t try to have the right track when I make music, I just make music. I make what I feel. Sometimes they are just good, but not enough to be released. Since I started 3 years ago, I maybe have 15 tracks I’ve never released.
Fadi: So you tour the US quite often, what are your favorite places to be when you’re out here?
Shiba: When I’m out here I like to stay in Miami since I have a studio out there and I have friends there as well. But like a lot of people I really like New York and LA. I like LA because of the weather but the traffic is crazy. I don’t know if it’s a city I can live in because you spend too much time driving, and New York is too busy as well and the weather is crazy. That’s why Miami is cool. It’s quiet, not really busy at the moment and is quite relaxing. Chicago is also cool, not in December but in March it’s really cool. Boston is nice. There’s a lot of cities that are nice to visit but Miami is cool because the weather is always good. Everything is also only 5 minutes or a short walk away, while in LA 5 minutes will be like one block. Spending 2-3 hours a day in your car is 2-3 hours you lose for working so I can’t do it.
Check out Basement Leak for many new releases to come in 2018
Photos by Paul Oshiro