Producer and beat creator Dan The Automator is known internationally as one of the most groundbreaking and inventive creators of hip-hop music.
Dan "the Automator" Nakamura (born in San Francisco, California) is an American hip-hop and rap producer most known for his work in the mid to late 1990s and early 2000s.
Nakamura's work tends to integrate significant amounts of overlooked 1970s and 1980s kitsch, cult classics, and B-grade 1990s television material. His work also tends to make heavy use of classical music and science fiction overtones and references, the latter with hip hop roots in the space jams of Parliament. Sci-fi also pops up in the hip hop oeuvres of RZA and Jedi Mind Tricks, among others, both in and out of collaborations with Dan the Automator.
He first achieved critical and commercial success in 1996 with the esoteric Dr. Octagon album, and followed suit with a slew of landmark recordings and remixes that established him as not only a producer to be reckoned with, but as a remixer and songwriter as well.
His collaborations with hip-hop legends Prince Paul (Handsome Boy Modeling School) and Del tha Funkee Homosapien (Deltron 3030) resulted in success on a larger scale, and he went platinum as the producer of the debut Gorillaz album in 2001. Another Handsome Boy Modeling School record followed in 2005. Dan co-wrote and produced "Get Your Way", a hit single for British singer Jamie Cullum. His new project, NBA2k7, features Mos Def, E-40, Fabulous, Ghost Face, A Tribe Called Quest, Rhymefest, Lupe Fiasco, and many others. The soundtrack will be released on September 19th, 2006.
Dan "The Automator" Nakamura was born and raised in San Francisco. Trained in classical violin as a child, Nakamura was more attracted to early electronica and hip-hop. After dabbling as a DJ, he gave up on the skill and instead worked on musical production.
A chance meeting with Kool Keith in San Francisco resulted in Keith hiring Dan for some work on his own record. Keith then suggested Dan assume production duties for his Dr. Octagon alter-ego, and Dan started to put tracks together for the record that would ultimately aquaint him with a much larger audience.
A fusion of hip-hop beats and bizarre atmospherics, Dr. Octagon was released on the Bulk Recordings label in 1996. Propelled by Kool Keiths' rhymes and mind-bending meter, the record owed its' success in equal measure to Dan's inventive production. Dan'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.
As Dr. Octagon spread through the underground scene, DTA found himself collaborating with directly or remixing for a wide variety of artists: Primal Scream, the Eels, DJ Krush, Cibo Matto, Dust Brothers, Mike Simpson, Cornershop, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Stereolab, and more. Dan then teamed up with hip hop guru Prince Paul for a project called Handsome Boy Modeling School. An album titled So, How's Your Girl? was released by Tommy Boy Records and was an instant underground success. 2000's Deltron 3030 project followed, a collaboration with rapper Del tha Funkee Homosapien and DJ Kid Koala.
In 2001, DTA reached his widest audience yet with the Gorillaz, an eclectic collaboration with Blur's Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett. The self-titled debut was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, going platinum in the U.S. and spawning Dan's first major hit single, "Clint Eastwood", featuring Del tha Funkee Homosapian.
In 2002 Lovage, a collaboration with former Faith No More singer Mike Patton and smoky vocalist Jennifer Charles was released. A mixtape of many of his favorite remixes called Wanna Buy A Monkey? followed, featuring remixes of Black Rob, Air, Zero 7, Tortoise, the Doves, De La Soul, Dilated Peoples, and more.
After reaching worldwide success with Gorillaz, demand for Dan as a remixer and producer grew exponentially. A known genre-bender, he worked on singles from acts ranging from Blink 182 to Sarah McLachlan, and co-wrote songs with artists such as Mos Def, Beanie Man, Beck, Busta Rhymes, and more. Additional collaborations with Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand), Pharrell, RZA, Mars Volta, Casual, Cat Power, and Linkin Park were the beginnings of what would be the second Handsome Boy Modeling School album, which was released on Atlantic Records in 2005, and followed by a sold-out U.S. tour.
Hip-hop is a genre that has proved itself far more flexible and groundbreaking than anyone might have predicted at its genesis: from its massive worldwide popularity to its seemingly endless "next levels", as it were, hip-hop music continues to be full of surprises, thanks largely in part to record producers like Dan The Automator.
While paying homage to his heroes and influences, Dan has crafted a career as unique as his records, always walking the line between music that makes a serious statement and music that delivers undeniable hooks and knows when not to take itself too seriously.