DJNOTADJ’s Deep Roots continue to grow, reissue groundbreaking LP

Djnot A Dj Instudio

DJNOTADJ in the studio. // Courtesy the band

Twenty years ago, Lawrence’s jam-tronic band DJNOTADJ released their heretofore only album, Deep Roots in Shallow Ground. Crafted with delayed guitars, rhodes, flutes, synths, pads, drum n’ bass, house, and trip-hop beats, the 12 mostly instrumental tracks flow into one another as a nearly-seamless mix of grooves interspersed with brilliant guest features from the likes of Jesse Jackson (the Lawrence musician, not the politician), Konsept, Johnny Quest, and Leonard Dstroy, among others.

Though the band has been silent since 2006, DJNOTADJ surprise dropped a 20th anniversary double vinyl reissue of their album and the notice that they’d be heading into the studio to record new music for the first time in decades. The band’s frontman and namesake, David Jerett Fulton, reached out via email, and we hopped on the phone with him and bandmate Nate Holt ahead of the reissue this Thursday, March 16.

DJNOTADJ’s Deep Roots in Shallow Ground is out on double vinyl LP and digital today. You can find it here.

The Pitch: What led to bringing this album out on vinyl? Obviously, a 20th anniversary is an occasion, but what made you decide that you wanted it to get this deluxe release after not having been a band for a while?

David Jerett Fulton: That’s definitely a fair question. We never stopped being best friends and brothers and we were always in touch and always making music together. The date definitely was important in our lives, but there was actually some demand, which was really cool, and some people reaching out to us wanting to have access to it again–not just digitally, but in a physical form as well.

We always intended to do this after the first run sold out back in our touring days. We decided to come together and give it the deluxe treatment we thought deserved. This became a great catalyst to like even a renewed creative fellowship and almost two new albums we just recorded last weekend. We’re excited for another 20-plus years.

Nate Holt: I looked back at some emails and I mean, it was ’20 or ’21 that we had reconnected and started talking about, “Hey, it’s gonna be 20 years since we released this record.” From there, it just kind of grew. We’ve spoken it into existence, is what I’m trying to say.

It’s kind of special on my end because this band was a very special band and a very special time in my life but it also was the band that got me into electronic music and that genre and got me working on my own material. Since the band went on a hiatus, all the stuff that I’ve been making has been influenced by and I’ve always had this band in the back of my mind in that process.

To have it come back around and not only release the record that we made that we all thought was really special, but to have a chance to play together and record maybe one or maybe two more albums is just really gratifying and I’m very grateful.

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What was the process you had to go through to take these 20 year-old tracks and get them ready for vinyl?

David: Actually, it was quite an extensive process. I’m in the music industry full-time. I run a label called Mixto and Dream Break and also Mixtape Meditation and I’ve learned a lot in my time over the last couple of years. I’ve been blessed with resources and will say to anybody out there who wants to press–if you do it right, it takes a while.

It probably took two years to get this done, to be honest. I designed the original album, but you know, I’m a vinyl collector myself, so I love it when reissues are given that special treatment and they are honored as best as they can to the original product. It took a while because I did have 20 year-old Illustrator files that were corrupted that we had to fix and put it all back together. That was kind of a journey. Shout out to Chris Hunt in LA for helping me put everything back together. That was a process in itself.

As far as the audio–this guy in Kansas City, his name’s Royce Diamond, and I believe he is an audio wizard. I met him through Nate ’cause they run a podcast together. We hit it off a couple of years ago when I went up to Lawrence for a weekend and we just started chatting and it was a long journey, honestly. He had never mastered for vinyl before, but I knew he had the skills and the gear, and the ears, so we went through that process together. It’s almost a year and a half.

It was an in-depth process. He took a CD–we had lost our hard drive files, so there was no chance of remastering it from the source stems, which we wanted to do. He basically worked his magic and got it ready for vinyl as well as digital. That was quite a process–a lot of back and forth–and he nailed it.

The people in Nashville who cut our lacquers and our stampers went out of their way to contact us to tell me what a great job he did from a restorative standpoint and also just an audio standpoint, ’cause mastering for vinyl is its own thing. We learned a lot together. That’s almost a whole interview on its own. It was a lot of research. The first week I started handling all this, I knew it would be a long process. Patience was the name of the game.

Was digging into this music after so long and putting so much work into it what led to the recording this past weekend?

Nate: We had you know, obviously reconnected and discussed this reissue and thought it would be really cool, if we can get everybody together again in the same place and play some music together just as Jer said–as a family, as a band. We started discussing it and I wasn’t sure how that was gonna go. Initially we were trying to decide where we were gonna do it and decided Kansas City was probably the easiest place since two of us live here.

We figured out the logistics and how to get everybody up. We talked to our friend John McCluskey– Johnny Quest. He runs the audio engineering lab at KU. Initially, we were gonna do it with Royce, but his studio, which he co-runs and co-manages with a partner, he’s taking off. We needed to see if there was an alternative. So thankfully, John McCluskey/Johnny Quest was very into the idea. He did a lot to make it happen. The audio lab at KU has a very nice studio tracking room and control room.

We figured out how to get everybody here, and it was almost hard to believe until we were all in the same room. It was like, “Oh my gosh, this is awesome. The energy from there, I mean, yeah. When we started tracking, everything was organized, and ready to go. We were laying down all the live instrumentation, and I don’t think it could have gone any better.

David: We had at least six or seven days’ worth of recording to stuff into three. We had all the tunes written, all the sketches outlined, so once we got out there, we were so well-prepared we just flew through our tracks, got all the parts, and even on Sunday–our last day together of the three days we had–we were ahead of schedule, which we couldn’t believe. We just jammed for a couple of hours and I think that’s gonna be its own EP.

To go back to the studio thing–it just wasn’t gonna work out with Royce for timing and everything, so I called Johnny, and Johnny was on our first record, and I used to run a studio in Lawrence and he was my partner up there. The whole session was family and brotherhood and created fellowship. I cannot emphasize much enough what a family vibe it was to all reconnect like that.

It was just a perfect, perfect weekend on this new album. It was really special because I got to come into town with the vinyl. I just picked it up from the plant. It was fun to come in, see all my family, give out the records, and start a new one.

DJNOTADJ’s Deep Roots in Shallow Ground is out today on double vinyl LP and digital. You can find it here.

Categories: Music