Go Away With … DJ White Shadow

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
May 16, 2017

Best known to music fans as Lady Gaga’s friend and collaborator, DJ White Shadow ( Paul Blair) is a Grammy nominee (“Born This Way”). He is also a businessman, who opened the trendy eatery, Honey’s, in Chicago’s West Loop, and is the North American music director for W Hotels Worldwide. This spring, he launched the opening of W Sound Suite in Seattle.

“This studio is for people who would not have an opportunity to be in this kind of professional environment,” he says. “When I toured with Gaga, we would write songs, but didn’t always have the opportunity to properly record the track. That’s where I got this idea. It’s not just for established musicians, but for anyone who wants to record in a really good environment.”

For more info about his music, check out his website or follow him on Twitter.

Q. Where do you return to consistently?

A. I love Asia as a whole (continent), but I try to make it to Korea at least once a year. My sisters are adopted from Korea and my mom and dad were very big on making them aware of their Korean culture. We had kimchi in the house all the time and ate Korean food. I love it. The spicier the better.

Q. What don’t you love about traveling?

A. I don’t enjoy the first hour or so when you’re dealing with getting to the airport and checking in, but once I’m sitting on the plane and having a glass of wine, I love it. I don’t think I’ll ever be jaded by it.

Q. Why are you based out of the Chicago suburbs, rather than New York, Los Angeles or the city itself?

A. I love Chicago. It’s the most wonderful city. But I’m rarely home and when I am, I spend all my time in the city for work. So it’s nice to come home to some place that’s less hectic. That’s why I picked Glenview. I also like that I’m close to the airport and can go anywhere. It’s a nice central location that’s close to everywhere. But if I’m to be completely honest, I picked the northern suburbs because of John Hughes’ movies. I tried to buy the “Ferris Bueller” house. It was listed at $1.5 million, which doesn’t seem like a lot for the Ferris Bueller house. But it was a teeny, tiny house in a state of disrepair. It would’ve cost a lot to fix it up.

Q. Where did you go to for childhood vacations?

A. We went to my grandmother’s house in Lansing, Michigan.

Q. What is left on your Travel Bucket List?

A. So many places, but the one that is at the top of the list is Reykjavik (Iceland). I’ve never been there and that makes me really sad. I really want to go. I feel like I’ve been to so many places and I don’t have regrets about not having traveled more. But that’s the one place that I have to go.

Q. What is the best way for you to get a feel for a new city?

A. Just walking around and taking the time to soak it all in. You get a real feel for a new place when you’re walking, even if it’s just going to the neighborhood grocery store and seeing what the specialties are. I went to New Orleans and went fishing. We pulled over to this little grocery store and there were pieces of pig fat that were cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks that were deep fried and sitting underneath a warming lamp by the checkout counter. My guide bought them and scarfed them down. I tried it and it was awful — like eating butter on a stick.

Q. Speaking of food, are you pretty adventurous when it comes to trying new food?

A. Yes. I like to eat and will try it all at least once. That’s not to say I like everything I try. (Laughs) In Japan, they have this fermented (soybean) called natto that is horrendous. I love fermented food like kimchi. But it gets to a point where fermentation goes from good to bad. I don’t need to eat the 1,000 year old egg in Hong Kong or the fermented fish that seems to sit in a box for two years before being served in Norway. But I’m glad that I tried them.

Q. Can you name a few places where you have enjoyed some of your favorite meals?

A. Tokyo. I love Japanese food. It’s healthy and delicious. The food in Italy was so good and I could eat it every day.

Q. What’s the most unique hotel you’ve stayed at?

A. We went to this place in South Africa called Kruger National Park that was so beautiful. We stayed at the Lion Sands Game Reserve and it was miraculous. The coffee was so good and we ate antelope for dinner, which was delicious. They have a thing there called the (Chalkley) Treehouse, where you sleep in the open air. I stayed there overnight. They drop you off with a walkie-talkie and that’s it.

Q. What is your worst travel memory?

A. It’s not the worst, but it is still on my mind. I was in Italy in Venice and went out on the terrace for a while. When I walked back in, I must not have shut the door completely. I woke up from my sleep with mosquito bites everywhere. I looked like I had a disease. I don’t like to take medicine often, but I was looking for anything that could help relieve the pain from those bites.

© 2017 JAE-HA KIM 


Comments (5)

  1. Monica says:

    Fun interview, Jae! I love the Ferris Bueller story. I would’ve bought the house no matter what condition it was in. 🙂

  2. Sonya Stevens says:

    Get Gaga next!!

  3. Cindy says:

    He sounds amazing. Looks like he should be in ZZ Top. Ha!

  4. Allison says:

    I’ve been to Finland! Reykjavik is amazing!

  5. Steven Lawrence says:

    I was just at the W hotel in Seattle. I wish I had known about the studio before hand. I would love to check it out one day and record my hit. haha

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