Metal Blade Records On May 17, As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis appeared in…
- Posted on Dec 30th 2009 4:30PM by Jenny Charlesworth
Once reserved for underground visionaries, the term 'mash-up' has become commonplace in the wake of 2.0 culture. Armed with Pro Tools and a decent midi controller, just about anyone with the patience to thumb through a software manual can take their homegrown remix to the international stage.
"The technology nudged the mindset," UK bootleg scene pioneer the Freelance Hellraiser, whose given name is Roy Kerr, tells Spinner from a London studio. "It's much easier to mix two songs together than it is to learn to play an instrument."
The mastermind behind 2001's aptly titled 'A Stroke of Genius' -- the cheeky union of the Strokes' gritty garage anthem 'Hard to Explain' and Christina Aguilera's teenybopper workout track 'Genie in a Bottle' -- Kerr helped kick our current infatuation with track-splicing into overdrive. In much the same way the landmark 1981 album 'The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel' changed the musical landscape of the 1980s, Kerr's iconic mash-up helped no-name bedroom DJs shrug off their amateur standing and step into the limelight.
"Bedroom DJs are no different from garage bands or bedroom poets or armchair generals," Kerr says. "Good music will always be good music and you will always have to search it out from within a sea of mediocrity."
With the advent of cost-effective, user-friendly studio equipment in recent years, amateurs now have the means to produce polished results. True, DIY production might not fully replicate the glossy sheen of professional studio wizardry, but faking it from home at a fraction of the price is a tough sales pitch to trump.
"I like to think that the tools of an era shape the art of that era," American turntablist and producer DJ Spooky, aka Paul D. Miller, tells Spinner from a cafe in Sydney, Australia. "Imagine if Adolphe Sax hadn't invented the saxophone? We wouldn't have Charlie Parker or John Coltrane, and we wouldn't have some of the best music of the last two centuries."
In November 2009 Miller and New York software developer Musicsoft Arts launched the DJ Spooky remix iPhone App and subsequent demo cell phone mix. While the new App might not be as groundbreaking as say, a saxophone, Miller hopes that it will further the remix revolution by making it even easier for fans to make the transition to artist.
"Through the prism of my new album, 'The Secret Song,' and the app on my cell phone, I just wanted to show how you can rock a party using material from your iTunes library and mix it with your record collection," he says. "[Going forward] I'm thinking that everything will be mixable and you'll grab fragments of whatever interests you... that's the idea."
Miller's app is just one example of how remix culture allows for a leveling of the playing field. Not only has the once-exclusive music industry been forced to open its doors to those at home, but the 2.0 era has also yielded a promotional goldmine for artists. Whether it's an iPhone App, a high-profile collaboration or remix contest, artists have a whole new bag of tricks at their disposal when it comes to engaging the people who buy their music. Everyone from U2 to Norah Jones has jumped on the remix album bandwagon, proving that the secret weapon of the DJ world has gone mainstream.