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Dan The Automator

Dan "The Automator" Nakamura is a San Francisco-based hip-hop producer whose work with "Kool" Keith Thornton on the latter's Dr. Octagon project shot him to unlikely acclaim in 1996. With a series of ever more elaborate conceptual projects since then, Nakamura's wildly imaginative productions and offbeat sense of humor made him one of the leading figures in the underground renaissance of alternative rap in the late '90s.

A classically trained violinist in his younger days, Nakamura instead fell in love with Kraftwerk and old-school hip-hop, as well as R&B and rock & roll. He began DJing as a teenager but was discouraged by the advanced skills of some younger Bay Area DJs (i.e., the ones who would go on to form the legendary Invisibl Skratch Piklz collective). Nakamura instead turned his attention to crafting his own productions, accepting gigs around the Bay Area through the early '90s, which eventually culminated in the Dr. Octagon project in 1995. A lo-fi fusion of hip-hop beats and bizarre atmospherics on par with some of the weirder exports from the U.K. trip-hop scene, Dr. Octagon was released by the tiny Bulk Recordings label in 1995 and achieved a level of overground success increasingly rare in hip-hop's pop-monopolized marketplace when it was reissued by DreamWorks a year later. Propelled by Thornton's pornographic rhymes and mind-bending meter, the record owed its success in equal measure to Nakamura's inventive production, which wed loping, downtempo rhythms with, by turns, weeping violins, space-born bleeps and wiggles, and heavy metal guitar riffs. Not Nakamura's freshman effort by a long shot, the two had actually worked together (with Thornton appearing as Sinister 6000) on Nakamura's debut Automator release, the Better Tomorrow EP, appearing on SF's Ubiquity label in early 1996. Nakamura's studio, The Glue Factory, also served as the workshop for recordings by Mo' Wax's DJ Shadow and for various artists on the latter's Solesides label (most notably on Latyrx's The Album).

When Thornton decided not to tour behind his Dr. Octagon alias, Nakamura racked up a host of other mix and production credits, including Primal Scream, the Eels, DJ Krush, a collaboration with Dust Brother Mike Simpson for Cornershop (several tracks on 1997's acclaimed When I Was Born for the 7th Time), and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (1998's Acme). Nakamura then teamed up with former De La Soul producer Prince Paul as Handsome Boy Modeling School, a reference to an episode of the Chris Elliott sitcom Get a Life. In 1999, the duo released an album titled So...How's Your Girl?, a freewheeling hodgepodge of old-school hip-hop, new-school trip-hop, crazed sampling (including plenty of Elliott dialogue), and all-star cameos. The record marked Nakamura as a figure to watch, and that reputation was confirmed with 2000's Deltron 3030 project, a collaboration with rapper Del tha Funkee Homosapien and DJ Kid Koala. The trio's self-titled debut was an elaborate science-fiction concept album set in a bleak and distant future, and Nakamura's detailed, cinematic production offered a rich and believable soundtrack. That same year, Nakamura issued a retooled version of his debut EP (with several extra tracks) under the title A Much Better Tomorrow on the hip-hop-oriented label 75 Ark.

In 2001, Nakamura snared his widest audience yet with the cartoon band Gorillaz, an eclectic collaboration with Blur's Damon Albarn, artist Jamie Hewlett, Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori, and former Talking Heads Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. Their barely classifiable self-titled debut was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, going platinum in the U.S. and spawning Nakamura's first major hit single, "Clint Eastwood." Next, Nakamura returned to his Nathaniel Merriweather alias (from the Handsome Boy Modeling School album) for Lovage, a lounge-flavored, Serge Gainsbourg-influenced project that featured vocalists Jennifer Charles (Elysian Fields) and Mike Patton (Faith No More). The Lovage album Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By was released before the end of 2001. Nakamura kicked off 2002 by releasing his first-ever mix album, the well-received Wanna Buy a Monkey?: A Mixtape Session.

Despite the fact there were many promises for a solo album, titled Omakase, label issues caused it to be shelved, but in 2004, the Automator teamed up with Daryl Palumba to form Head Automatica (at least in its initial conception) and release Decadence. In 2006, he produced the tracks for 2K7, the soundtrack to the video game of the same name, which featured performances from E-40, Ghostface Killah, and Slim Thug (though of course an instrumental version was also offered). ~ Sean Cooper & Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

This production is brilliant. Seamless. Eclectic. Out the box! Classic...
I uh think you should scout me at Beresford cause I have been working my Asus off for you.
Saw the automator last night with kid koala and deltron zero. F**kin amazing
True underground one of the best beat makers out there!
The AUtomator is a trip totally of the wall
One of the sickes beats out there
Sounds like a song form the anime series big O
eargasm
One of the dopest tracks, its sick baby,!
Dan got it!!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Army of Pharaohs covers this Album.
\,,/(^_*)\,, /
°·°
melanie.down h o u r
Thank you for your Music!
Good Ole Dan. He was one of my first favored hip-hop performers.
cross_net
This bio needs to be updated! There's absolutely no mention of his most recent work with Kasabian. On 14 June 2009, Kasabian's West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum reached #1 in the UK Albums Chart, spending two weeks there. Winning Best Album at the Q Awards, NME and MOJO Awards; among many others awards for singles. Automator also produced Velociraptor ! released September 19, 2011, Kasabian's fourth album and they are currently headlining all the largest festivals in Europe for 2011!
He was great when he backed up Chali 2na from Jurassic 5 when they were on tour together. Don't know if they still are, but they sounded sick. Dan's one of the best.
rlockton6
The above photo is actually of Kool Keith. The Automator is the guy in the background.
happywompy
I started listening to Ennio Morricone and they recommended this guy, top notch stuff! *Applause*
s**ts tight man
real music. for real hip-hop heads out there! he kool!
imasimplecre a t u r
great song
Dan the automator is definately a big name in the underground scene, and right now he's one of the bigger names working behind the scenes and in front of them. Dj Shadow, Dj spooky, Dj Krush, Gorillaz, Danger mouse.He's all over the place. Would be nice to get a better picture of him though. In this'un he isn't really the focus.
this guy keeps showing up everywhere i look
His style captured me from the very beginning. Very innovative use of strings, loops, sound clips, and scratch. I dare say he may perhaps be one of the top 10 most talented hip-hop producers out there...
i HEARD dAN tALK lAST nIGHT aND iT wAS EDUCATING aND a gREAT iNSIGHT iNTO hIS cREATIVE pROCESS.

t.v.

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