Listen to Shigeto's New EP 'Intermission': Exclusive

Jon DeCola


Electronic musician Zach Saginaw, who records and performs under his middle name, Shigeto, says that making Intermission, his first release since 2013's No Better Time Than Now, was "like coming up for air."

"I'd just been touring a lot, and kind of burnt myself out on the road," he tells Billboard of the path to this release, which is premiering exclusively below. In the two years since his last album, he's collaborated with everyone from trumpet player Dave Douglas (as a part of his High Risk project) to Detroit MC ZelooperZ (Saginaw is from Michigan) -- projects that enriched his own work, but didn't leave him much time to pursue it.

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"I didn't have this big next thing, because so much time had been focused outside of my own writing," he says of the decision to put together Intermission, a collection of the tracks he's been working on in the interim. "People have come to assume that my records have a message -- it's always been somewhat personal. Instead, this is a taste of what I've been making, but it's not like grand, like 'This is the new shit.' These are songs I like, and we tried to pick [a variety of] different stuff."

When it comes to putting things together, Shigeto, a trained jazz drummer, "used to always start with drums." Now, though, he begins by "picking the sounds. It's like putting a bunch of paint on a palette that you think looks nice together."

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What makes up that palette? A mix of external audio, from live percussion and synths to field recordings and samples. "I use my iPhone a lot, to be honest," the producer says of how he collects samples. "I'm not a huge audiophile. The iPhone mic has a weird compression that it does automatically and it sounds kind of cool. I'm a firm believer in that it doesn't matter how you get there -- it's just what you can say the most with."

Shigeto sees that same flexibility in the music industry today, which has allowed him to succeed as an experimental musician. "Fifteen years ago, DJs were not millionaires," he tells Billboard. "I just think in general, as a culture, we're more open." 

Listen to Intermission, out this Friday, Oct. 30 on Ghostly, below, and preorder here.