Dan “The Automator” Nakamura

Dan “The Automator” Nakamura


Dan “The Automator” Nakamura has never waited for approval or applause. For over two decades, he has created progressive, genre-warping music on his terms. A producer, composer, engineer, and DJ, Nakamura remains in constant motion, performing on stages around the world and lending his singular artistic vision to one endeavor after another.

Whether collaborating with like-minded artists such as Del the Funky Homosapien and Damon Albarn or scoring films (e.g., 2019’s Booksmart), he has disregarded accepted convention and fleeting trends.

Raised in San Francisco’s Sunset District neighborhood, Nakamura began playing music at just three years old, when his mother enrolled him in violin lessons. Once he absorbed the pop and soul music of the late ’70s, he became enamored with rap groups like Run-DMC. In high school, he traded the violin for turntables, bought a drum machine, and built a studio in his parents’ basement. When the foam that he glued to the studio walls didn’t reduce the sound level upstairs, Nakamura wryly dubbed the noxious-smelling room the Glue Factory.

The Glue Factory became home base for countless rappers and producers in the ’90s. In addition to providing a space for artists from Bay Area label/crew Solesides to record, Nakamura assisted on records like DJ Shadow’s seminal 1996 debut Endtroducing….. At the same time, he and New York rap legend Kool Keith were working on the groundbreaking Dr. Octagonecologyst.

A sci-fi space odyssey narrated by Keith’s alter-ego Dr. Octagon—an intergalactic gynecologist and homicidal surgeon from Jupiter—Dr. Octagonecologyst recalibrated the parameters of rap. While other producers sampled the same jazz and James Brown records, Nakamura went left, using eerie string arrangements, grinding guitars, skull-cracking drums, and scratches from world-renowned turntablist DJ Qbert to score Octagon’s lurid tales of rectal rebuilding and facial rearrangements. Originally released independently on Nakamura’s label Bulk Recordings, the album sold by the thousands at record shops in the Bay Area before Mo’ Wax and Dreamworks re-released it in the UK and the US respectively.

In the wake of Dr. Octagonecologyst’s success, Nakamura made a series of unpredictable turns. First, he produced When I Was Born for the 7th Time, the raga-meets-indie-rock masterpiece from British band Cornershop, which was certified gold in the UK and ranked the number one album of 1997 by Spin. Then, Nakamura formed Handsome Boy Modeling School with Prince Paul, the producer behind iconic De La Soul albums like 3 Feet High and Rising. Handsome Boy Modeling School’s debut album So… How’s Your Girl? was hip-hop’s answer to the Chemical Brothers, a comical but banging and musically complex album that featured elite rappers like Del the Funky Homosapien and El-P while mining the intersection of rap and trip-hop. After his work with Prince Paul, Nakamura collaborated on two of the most influential records of the 2000s: Deltron 3030 and Gorillaz.

Set in the year 3030 (of course), Deltron 3030 is a dystopian rap opera scored by Nakamura’s brilliant amalgam of dark, lush string arrangements, thunderous drums, and spaced-out synths. Backed by these suites, Del the Funky Homosapien became Deltron, an aggrieved activist penning anti-capitalist screeds with the same fervor as the unnamed protagonist of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Released to widespread critical acclaim, the album remains a vivid and arresting epic unlike any the genre has produced. It is perhaps the closest rap will ever come to Orwell’s 1984.

The product of an organic and dynamic partnership between Blur lead singer Damon Albarn and Nakamura, Gorillaz is still timeless, a strange yet somehow harmonious fusion of alternative rock, rap, trip-hop, dub, and electronic music. The album also marked the beginning of creatively and commercially successful run for Nakamura. Featuring the haunting yet funky lead single “Clint Eastwood,” Gorillaz went platinum in both the US and Europe and currently boasts mover 500 million streams between all platforms. In the the span of three years, Nakamura produced two multi-platinum albums for lauded space rock band Kasabian, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum (2009) and Velociraptor! (2011). Event 2, the celebrated Deltron 3030 sequel, peaked at #6 on the Rap Album charts in 2013.

All while producing pioneering and high-charting albums, Nakamura has quietly made a name for himself as a film composer, crafting songs for films like Edgar Wright’s witty, manga-meets-video-game action comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) and the Jodie Foster directed crime-drama Money Monster (2016). In 2019, he was the sole composer for Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart. Nakamura’s unique ability to create music that deftly juggles disparate moods set the tone for the hysterical coming-of-age comedy, which debuted to rave reviews at the SXSW Film Festival.

Today, Nakamura continues his balancing act, creating inspired music in every medium. In addition to scoring Broken Bread, the Roy Choi-hosted show on PBS/ Tastemade, he composed several songs for the forthcoming Netflix original film Always Be My Maybe starring Keanu Reeves, Ali Wong, and Randall Park. While there will undoubtedly be more albums from Nakamura and phenomenal collaborators on Bulk Recordings, there’s no telling where his artistic passions will lead him next.

Selected Credits


Salt & Pepa (Composer)
Director: Mario Van Peebles
Producers: Shakim Compere, Queen Latifah, Steve Solomos
Starring: Laila Odom, GG Townson

Holidate (Composer)
Director: John Whitesell
Producers: McG, Mary Viola
Starring: Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey, Kristin Chenoweth

Booksmart (Composer)
United Artists Releasing
Director: Olivia Wilde
Producers: Chelsea Barnard, David Distenfeld, Jessica Elbaum, Megan Ellison, Katie Silberman 
Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow

Always Be My Maybe (Songs)
“Hello”, “Tennis Ball”, “I Punched Keanu Reeves”
Director: Nahnatchka Khan
Producers: Nathan Kahane, Randall Park | Erin Westerman, Ali Wong
Starring: Ali Wong, Randall Park, James Saito

Money Monster (Songs)
“What Makes the World Go Round? (Money!)”, “Da Da Da”
Sony Pictures Releasing
Director: Jodie Foster
Producers: Lara Alameddine, George Clooney, Daniel Dubiecki, Grant Heslov
Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell

Scott Pilgram Vs. The World (Songs)
“Ninja Ninja Revolution”, “Slick (Patel’s Song)”
Universal Pictures
Director: Edgar Wright
Producers: Eric Gitter, Nira Park, Marc Platt, Edgar Wright
Starring: Michael Cera, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza

Slackers (Songs)
“Rock N Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This)”, “Holy Calamity”
Screen Gems
Director: Dewey Nicks
Producers: Erik Feig, Neal H. Moritz
Starring: Devon Sawa, Jason Segel, Jason Schwartz

Blade II (Producer – Song)
“Gorillaz On My Mind”
New Line Cinema
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Producers: Peter Frankfurt, Tomas Krejci, Patrick J. Palmer, Wesley Snipes
Starring: Wesley Nipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Pearlman

Oceans Eleven (Song)
“The Projects (P Jays)”
Warner Bros
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Producers: Jerry Weintraub 
Starring: George Clooney, Bernie Mac, Brad Pitt

Scream II (Producer – Song)
“Right Place Wrong Time”
Dimension Films
Director: Wes Craven
Producers: Cathy Konrad, Marianne Maddalena
Starring: Jada Pinkett Smith, Heather Graham, Omar Epps


Dash & Lily (Composer)
Director: Fred Savage, Pamela Romanowsky, Brad Silberling
Producers: Karl Frankenfield, Joe Tracz
Starring: Austin Abrams, Midori Francis, Dante Brown

Broken Bread (Composer – Season 1)
Director: James Mann, Antonio Diaz, James Mann
Producers: Emily Mraz, Natasha Phan, Elizabeth Collins, Matthew Crotty, Clara Bottoms
Starring: Roy Choi

Better Call Saul (Song)
“The Truth”
Director: Colin Bucksey
Producers: Peter Gould, Nina Jack, Diane Mercer, Bob Odenkirk
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn

The Sopranos (Song)
“Stage 5 Remix”
Director: Timothy Van Patten
Producers: David Chase, Allen Coulter, Martin Bruestle
Starring: James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli

Californication (Song)
Showtime Networks
Director: David Von Ancken
Producers: David Duchovny, Tom Kapinos, John H. Radulovic
Starring: David Duchovny, Natascha McElhone, Evan Handler

Charmed (Producer – Song)
WB Television Network
Director: John T. Kretchmer
Producers: Brad Kern, Peter Chomsky, Jon Pare, Aaron Spelling
Starring: Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, Brian Krause


Dr. Octagon – Moosebumps: An Exploration Intro Modern Day Horripilation
Bulk Recordings

Dita Von Teese – Soundtrack for Secution / Ive Been Thinking

Sekai No Owari – “Anti-Hero”
Toy’s Factory

Got A Girl – I Love You But I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now
Bulk Recordings

Exodus – Blood In, Blood Out
Nuclear Blast

Pillowfight – Pillowfight
Prime Dub

Deltron 3030 – Event 2
Bulk Recordings

Kasabian – Velociraptor!

Dredg – Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy
Vertigo Berlin

Miles Kane – Colour of the Trap

Kinshasa One Two – Kinshasa One Two

Kasabian – “Vlad The Impaler”
Columbia Records

Dan the Automator – Rapper’s Delight
Green United Music

Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum

Anais Croze – The Love Album

Men Without Pants – Naturally
Expansion Team

VARIOUS – Türkisch Für Anfänger (Die Musik Aus Der Serie) – Greatest Mistake (Album Version)
EMM (EMI Music Media)

Josh Haden – Devoted
Diamond Soul

Peeping Tom – Peeping Tom
Ipecac Recordings

Dan the Automator – Dan the Automator Presents 2k7

Jack Johnson – “Breakdown”
Bushfire Records

Jamie Cullum – Catching Tales
Verve Forecast

Lyrics Born – “I’m Just Raw”
Quannum Projects

Cafe 4 – I’ve Been Thinking

Handsome Boy Modeling School – White People
Tommy Boy Music

Head Automatica – Decadence
Warner Records

Josh Haden – “Light of Day”, “Crunchy”
Diamond Soul

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “Damage”, “Show You The Way”
Sanctuary Records Group Unlimited

DJ Shadow – In Tune and On Time Live! / “Holy Calamity (Beat Witness II)”
Island Records

Blue Man Group – Blue Man Group
Lava Records

Galactic – Rackus
Sanctuary Records

Freq Nasty – Bring Me The Head of Freq Nasty / Punkadelic

Underworld – Back To Mine, “Bear Witness”

Various Artists – Christmas Remixed
Six Degrees

Dan the Automator – Wanna Buy A Monkey?
Sequence Records

Various (New Voices Vol. 49) – Strangers On A Train
Rolling Stone

Ben Lee – Hey You. Yes You
Modular Records / F-2

Lovage – Music To Make Love To Your Old Lady By
75 Ark

Various (Un Printemps / Été 2001) – Mastermind

Deltron 3030 – Deltron 3030
75 Ark

PRODUCTION (continued)

Gorillaz – Gorillaz

Primal Scream – XTRMNTR

Mr. Dead – Metabolics Vollume II: Dawn of the Dead – Chemically Imbalanced

Dan the Automator – A Much Better Tomorrow
75 Ark

Various – Revolutions 01 – King of NY
Select Magazine

Eels – Oh What A Beautiful Morning
DreamWorks Records

Handsome Boy Modeling School – So… How’s Your Girl?
Warner Bros. Records

Rob Swift – The Ablist, “This Is Our Day”
Asphodel Records

Dan the Automator – Bombay the Hard Way: Guns, Cars and Sitars

John Spencer Blues Explosion – ACME
Matador Records

John Spencer Blues Explosion – Scream 2 Soundtrack
Capitol Records

Eels – Electro-Shock Blues, “My Descent Into Madness”
DreamWorks Records

Cornershop -When I Was Born For The 7th Time

Dan the Automator -What’s Cookin?, “Sleep”

Dr. Octagon – Dr. Octagonecologyst
Bulk Recordings


Cat Power
Cibo Matto
Awol Nation
Black Rob
David Chang
De La Soul
Dennis Lee
Depeche Mode
Fred Morin / David McMillan
James Shyabout
The Le Fooding Organization
Linkin Park
Lyrics Born
Mario Batali
Masaharu Morimoto
Medeski, Martin and Wood
Mick Jagger
Mike Patton
Mix Master Mike
Nelly Furtado
Pizzicato Five
Randall Park
Roy Choi
Run The Jewels
Sho Kamio
Stereo MC’s
Tom Tom Club
Trans AM
The X-Cutioners


Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 (Song)
“Holy Calamity (Bear Within Us)”

Tony Hawk’s Underground (Songs)
“A Better Tomorrow”, “Positive Contact”