In 2001, Jace Clayton was an unknown DJ who recorded a three-turntable, sixty-minute mix called Gold Teeth Thief and put it online to share with his friends. Within weeks, the mix had become an international calling card and the globe-trotting DJ Rupture was born, as Clayton was whisked away to a sprawling, multi-tiered nightclub in Zagreb, a tiny gallery in Osaka, a former brother in São Paulo, and the MoMA.
Clayton was always doing more than just jet-setting—he was traveling to the furthest corners of the world with his eyes and ears open, taking in as much as he could from his new position on the frontlines of a music world making its transition from analog to digital. To his ears, it was a glorious time: Berber musicians embracing auto-tune more completely than Cher ever had, Mexican rodeo teens pushing basic music production software in previously unheard(-of) directions.
In his dazzling debut book, Uproot, Clayton shares all he’s learned, illuminating connections no one else could have ever revealed. Coming up with a book cover that captures all that energy was obviously a daunting prospect. We think designer Devin Washburn nailed it—but what’s perhaps even more revealing is how interesting the back cover is. It is, for instance, the first time we’ve gotten a blurb from Diplo—and it may well be the first time Diplo has shared a stage with Obama-inauguration poet Elizabeth Alexander, legendary performance artist Laurie Anderson, and more…
First, music critic Sasha Frere-Jones weighs in: “Uproot is a user manual for the world created by ‘Mr. MP3 and Ms. Internet.’ Jace Clayton has auto-tuned with Berbers, played squats in Barcelona, and fielded song requests in Dubai. As a DJ processing both sound and history, Clayton has captured the glory of a digital slipstream that celebrates flow and defeats economies until the break of dawn.”
Then it’s activist, author, and documentarian Astra Taylor‘s turn: “As befits a seasoned DJ, Jace Clayton’s eclectic travelogue effortlessly blends technology, ethnomusicology, and economics into a unique, fascinating hybrid. Uproot reminds us that while smartphones put the world at our fingertips, most of us rarely stray from the familiar and formulaic. Take a break from Pitchfork, expand your horizons, and read this book. Uproot is a cosmopolitan clarion call, full of passion and insight as infectious as a pop hook.”
How about futurist Douglas Rushkoff? “The revolution will be auto-tuned. Jace Clayton shows how technology disrupts not only the music industry but musicians themselves. Platforms maybe more open than ever, but the trade-offs are complex: music becomes mechanized, and listeners are sold to the highest-bidding social marketer. This book is both accessible and profound.”
And now, as promised, Elizabeth Alexander: “Jace Clayton is a bricoleur like no other whose curiosity leads him fearlessly beyond fixed cultural boundaries to make connections and find insights that are brilliant and unique. He looks at the world and makes culture from gorgeously odd angles—every sentence of this book is a gem.”
Laurie Anderson! “I’m so glad to read such an upbeat version of the future of music and the music-listening public. Uproot raises some interesting propositions about how musicians will be making music in the ever-evolving world. I like Jace Clayton’s positive spin.”
And Diplo.... “Some people think global music culture is homogenous, but it’s not. Everything is mutating at a high speed and even higher bitrate. For any real insight into why and how it’s happening, it’s essential to be part of it and to document with the eye of a creator. Jace Clayton flows like water around the world, getting to the bottom of it all.”
And while we’re here, we might as well quote from the first advance reviews: Kirkus raves that it’s “an engrossing tour of the global cutting edge, balanced between memoir, musicology, and technology” while Publishers Weekly—in a starred, boxed review—says it’s “an exhilarating book…[that] urges readers to embrace the power of music, recognizing its energetic and enduring capacity to capture and express shared emotions.”
Exhilarating is right. Couldn’t have said it better ourselves…