Chances are you've heard some mashups by now. They started as an underground phenomenon, but over the past half-dozen years, they've popped up on MTV and Spike. The practice of lifting tracks from very different music sources to create a seamless, danceable and bizarre collision could actually be the future of pop music, freed at last from any original context. DJs Adrian and Mysterious D run the Bootie club night which now operates in New York, L.A., London, Beijing and San Francisco. We asked A+D if mash-ups are what tomorrow's cyborgs will have plugged into their audio receptors. Do you think the mashup craze has peaked, or is it still building? It has absolutely not peaked. We're constantly amazed at the number of people who are just NOW - five to six years after it really got started - discovering mashup bootleg culture for the FIRST time. And as much as certain media outlets would like to think, "Oh, we already wrote about mashups back in 2003, it's over now," the fact of the matter is, it's still pretty much an underground thing, an internet phenomenon. You can't buy these things in stores or on iTunes, and they almost never see any sort of official release. It's still basically fan- and user-created internet content.
And as more people discover it for the first time, they will want to try their hand at it, or continue to download and discover new mashups. We've seen producers come and go, but there is always new talent popping up. Additionally, some of the good mashup producers just keep putting out great work, some getting better and better. And there are new fans of this music popping up every day, as well. Sure, the novelty and "sense of the new" might have worn off for some people, but the fact of the matter is, because the tools to create mashups are so readily available, and so easy to learn (although difficult to master) the mashup scene will continue to grow. It's been cool to see people pop up with different signatures pop up... just when you think everything's been done, someone releases a mashup with a fresh take, be it source material or production technique. Also, there is always something popping up that inspires a new wave of mashups... most recently it's that someone cracked the video game Rock Band, and managed to get the multi-tracks - all the instrumentation and vocals of a ton of songs, and released it to the world of mashup producers and remixers. Now that there is fresh new material to play with, and tons of it, especially in this highly specialized manner (basslines, drums, guitars, vocals, all as individual pieces), more interesting mashups are coming out, using material never before used, and using the musical parts in new ways. Things like this keep the scene flowing with new ideas and creativity, and very much alive. Is there something about postmodern combinations of pop music that makes it more accessible to everybody? Mashups can be kind of a gateway to "trick" people into listening to music they wouldn't normally hear, and exposing them to different aspects of culture (and pop culture) they wouldn't otherwise be paying attention to. When a rock fan in their 30s or 40s hears a familiar '80s song, but then hears an unfamiliar pop or hip-hop vocal from some Top 40 artist, they're being exposed to current pop culture that they perhaps normally avoid. The same goes in the opposite direction — kids today get to hear older music because it's mashed up with the current stuff they enjoy. It's practically a musical education... or getting people to expand their boundaries of taste.
As technology improves, will we see more people cutting up and remixing music for their own ends? We're already seeing it! The tools are already there. GarageBand, Sony Acid, Ableton Live. All of these are cheap ways to play around with pre-existing music. Everyone wants to be a DJ ... this is the next logical step. Don't just PLAY other people's music ... play WITH it! Take something and make it your own! D.I.Y. culture is alive and well... just look at the success of YouTube videos, for an example of people cutting and pasting their own stamp on things they like. Is the mashup the perfect song because it's no longer about a particular time and place, but just about something more essential and timeless? "Perfect" is a difficult descriptor, because nothing is perfect for every situation. But certainly, mashups lend themselves to being more perfect in more situations, due to having the ability to draw from such a wide palette of musical genres and eras and styles. In other words, with the best mashups, there's something for everyone! You can find out more, and download the best mashups of 2005, 2006 and 2007, at the Bootie site.