Smashup Derby: Mashup hits Centro Mar 5-7
Mashup is the biggest thing in music right now. Everyone seems to love the sound of unrelated genres jostling for the limelight in a single song. A+D, or Adrian and the Mysterious D, know this musical melting pot more than most. They set up the first mashup club night in the US and have exported that across the globe since. They'll be joined in Beijing by their live band,Smashup Derby, and by DJ Beau Toxx.
Check them out at Centro this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The fun will start at 9pm. It's free entry. Read the full interview below.
the Beijinger: What inspired you to start DJing?
Adrian: It was our intense love of music -- ALL kinds of music -- that inspired us to start DJing. Our first DJ sets were very eclectic and musically all over the map. We never stuck with just one musical genre, which is why when we discovered mashup culture, with its genre-clashed sensibility; it was a natural fit to our DJ style.
DJ Beau Toxx: I seem to always have had a good ear for unusual/non commercial music, and for a long time, friends were continually asking me to recommend or compile music for them. When that reached a critical mass, I finally cave in and bought my first mixer, so I could play music without interruption. I then started to get small private gigs, which got bigger every time, and when I arrived in Hong Kong, I was fortunate enough to meet Vincent Quek (aka DJ Vinnie Q. – Kee’s music director), who gave me a chance and helped me get to where I am.
tbj: What motivated the change to mash up? Was there a specific moment, or a
A: The first mashups we heard were "Smells Like Booty" by 2manyDJs, which mashed up Nirvana with Destiny's Child, and Freelance Hellraiser's "Stroke Of Genius," which paired Christina Aguilera vs. The Strokes. These bootlegs both came out around 2001, and were extremely influential to the budding international mashup scene. We realized that instead of simply DJing different musical genres, one song at a time, now we could combine different genres, in a new and fresh way, all within one brand-new song! It was inspiring -- not only did we start seeking out more bootleg mashups on the internet, we also started creating our own.
DJB: I didn’t change to mashup specifically; it just came naturally, as a result of my electro tunes mixed with the musical roots I grew up with. See, as a teenager growing up in a surfing community, all of my musical culture was based on not only the eighties, but more importantly, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Jam or The Who. This gave me a real knack for rock and till today, people can still hear this in most of my electro mixes. When I miraculously got my hands on Mark Vilder’s “Rapture Riders” (Go Home Productions), mixing The Doors vs. Blondie, it certainly caught my ear and I immediately started to investigate the mashup culture.
tbj: What is the best mashup song you have ever heard, or created?
A: Probably the best mashup we've created is "Beethoven's Fifth Gold Digger," which mashes up Kanye West's "Gold Digger" over Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, with a disco dance beat. It's turned out to be our most popular mashup worldwide, with over a million downloads.
The Mysterious D: If we had to select a mashup track that we still love, and feel has stood the test of time, it might be a track called "Rapture Riders," that mashes up The Doors' classic "Riders On The Storm" with Blondie's classic "Rapture" ... it's got rock sensibilities courtesy of The Doors, but with a groovy 1980s New York vibe and disco beat courtesy of Blondie. However, our favorites mashups change on a weekly basis!
DJB: I don’t create and leave this to the experts such as A plus D or the Illuminoids! Instead, I prefer to mashup live and come up with new stuff in the spur of the moment. Having said that, one of my all time favorite has got to be The Illuminoids’ “Heart Shaped Titties”, a track you’re sure to hear me play on any of my electro sets. The combination of Nirvana, White Trash Kids on Crank and The Trucks is just too damned good!
tbj: Is the genre limitless? Are there any boundaries?
A: Is music limitless? Does music have any boundaries? As long as there are new songs, DJs and mashup producers will continue to mash them up! As for ideas, the only limitation is one's creativity -- and perhaps whether or not one is able to track down acapellas or instrumentals in order to create the mashups!
D: However, there are ways around even that, by isolating a vocal, or by making your own instrumentals using production techniques. The one limit is that not every song works with another. For example, some songs aren't close enough in tempo, or in the same key.
DJB: No boundaries whatsoever. It’s up to the creator’s/DJ’s imagination. Anything goes. I do put limit and craft though. It’s not because there’s no boundaries that it’s working all the time. Making sure the tracks are in the right keys, the music line-up perfectly
tbj: What would you say to someone who regards mashup as a fad?
A: Sure, it's "just a fad." Just like hip-hop was "just a fad." Or rock 'n' roll was "just a fad." Or how remixes were "just a fad." Remember those? The fact of the matter is, mashups are not going away. Sure, some of the trendiness and buzz will die down. But when it does, mashups will still be there, as simply another part of the musical landscape, just like remixes are still around -- and probably always will be.
D: Part of what will make mashups have longevity is the fact that it isn't even really a musical genre -- it's more of a production technique -- and therefore, they can't necessarily be tied down and associated to a particular time and place. So as musical genres evolve and develop, producers and DJs will continue to mash up new songs with older ones, mixing and matching different genres and eras to create new musical hybrids.
DJB: Just take a look at remixes. People simply don’t tire of hearing their favorite song in different ways. With a mash up, each time they hear it, they can rediscover their tracks and hear them in a whole new way, each time, like it was the first time they’d heard it.
tbj: Is there no genre you would not try to mashup?
A: Part of what makes mashups fun is that practically every genre is fair game. We've heard hip-hop raps over classical music, heavy metal songs mixed with silly pop songs, and slow serious songs turned into dance club anthems. The more widely different the musical genres, the better!
DJB: Nope. Anything is possible.
tbj: Do you ever play non mashup sets?
A: Mashups may be our specialty, but we play "normal" songs, too! While club Bootie is ALL mashups, we do occasionally play other gigs where we mix in other songs, un-mashed and un-remixed. Still though, our specialty as DJs is taking what's musically familiar, and subverting it, which often means that we'll still play interesting cover songs and official remixes in our "non-mashup" sets.
DJB: Yes. As Beau Toxx, I also play a lot of electro-house sets. As THC, the evil twin, it’s minimal, deep tech-house. Electronic music is an amazing foundation for mashups.
tbj: If you had to two acts to play on your side in a mashup battle to the
death who would it be?
D: AC/DC, because they could out-rock just about anyone, and those famous riffs are so mashable ... and Missy Elliott because she's a rhyming machine, and you can put her vocals on just about anything.
tbj: What should the Chinese crowd expect from your show? what do you expect
from them? Is the Smash up derby going to be something different to normal?
A: Expect to hear old songs in new ways. Expect to find yourself loving songs you thought you hated. Expect to dance! Expect to play a musical guessing game with not only the DJs, but with the live mashup band Smashup Derby. In fact, Smashup Derby is probably the most original and interesting cover band you'll find. They're very different from your typical cover band -- even though they're playing songs that everyone knows, they're doing it in ways you've never heard before!
DJB: I expect the Chinese crowd to be open to what they hear, discover or rediscover tracks that are very old but maybe unknown to them and go totally crazy as a result of the mash up. After all, the beats are going to be pumping too!
tbj: What most excites you about playing in Beijing?
A: It's always exciting to play for a new audience who doesn't know what to expect, and then to win them over by playing mashups, doing what we do best. At first, sometimes the crowd is confused by what they're hearing. But very soon after, they figure it out, and then it becomes a fun, interactive musical guessing game on the dance floor!
D: We also love the rich history and culture of Beijing. And so much seems to be happening there right now in terms of art, music and entertainment.... We are excited to be a part of it.
A: We're also excited about taking some new press photos of ourselves at the Great Wall of China!
tbj: Who would you get to DJ your wedding and what music would you want
playing at your funeral?
A: Ourselves! We made several pre-mixed CDs to play at our own wedding. We didn't want anyone else! And you know what? If we can do the same thing at our funeral, we will!
DJB: [For my funeral] I would have to say either Jose Padilla of Café Del Mar or Ravin of Buddha Bar. Obviously, the music wouldn’t be ‘uplifting’ but highly emotional and deeply rooted. I would however request to add some live element to complement the vibe and do a live mashup!
tbj: If you could bring back one person from the dead, who would it be and why?
D: Kurt Cobain from Nirvana. We are sure he'd have many more meaningful songs to offer the world.
DJB: John Morrison. Greatest epicurean poet ever who knew how to party. Unfortunately, too hard…
tbj: What's the most expensive record you have ever bought?
D: We've spent a ton of money on remixes from all sorts of beloved artists -- from rare out-of-print releases of rock bands we adore, to obscure electronic dance tracks. And we've bought the occasional box set of music by all-time greats like Queen, Blondie, and The Cure. Although, do people still buy records in this digital age?