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The Art of the Mashup

by Breakstone on September 12, 2012

There are a number of places to find new music: satellite radio, live shows, internet radio, YouTube, etc. Finding dope new music for us dance music bloggers is like finding a rock on the streets for crackheads. It’s that Yahtzee moment when you get excited, know that you’re about to consume the shit out of this new find, and share it with your friends. Hmmm…maybe the sharing part is where the crack analogy is limited. But you know what I mean!

The mashup, however, is hard to find on any radio station. There are some understandable reasons for that. First of all, it doesn’t make sense economically. When a song hits the radio waves, people make money. But a mashup is not always an official track sanctioned by all artists and their distribution companies. The whole idea behind a mashup is to take two established tracks and mix them together to form something newer and awesomer. But, economically, those two tracks have are tangled in contracts up the wazoo. Theoretically, you could ask the artists and their record labels and their distribution networks to sign off on new agreements releasing a mashup officially and raking in the proceeds. But, it just doesn’t happen.

Vis-a-vis IP law, it seems as though a mashup would fall under an exception to copyright infringement because the mashup arguably creates “new art.” But, to then translate that into radio play or record sales would invite a host of litigation and aggravation that I don’t think anyone wants to deal with.

That said, the hotbed for hearing new mashups is the live show. In fact, the reality behind modern-day DJ’ing is that it is not enough to just flawlessly mix songs into one another. It’s one thing if you are producing your own tracks and want to feature them one-by-one in your set. But, a live DJ set today (and for many years) has been marked by the ability of the DJ to take well-known tracks and make new ones with them.

The most common method for the mashup is to overlay a vocal track over an instrumental one. It’s relatively easier for starters: one track has a banging beat, another, great vocals. Put ’em together and whatya got? Bippity boppitty boo. It’s harder to find two songs that are merged so flawlessly that they seem like they were one song to begin with regardless of whether they are vocal or instrumental tracks.

Although there are many examples of mashups, I have included three that illustrate the point. The first mashup pits two bangers against each other. The kick of the track is in the Sandro Silva and Quintino track, “Epic.” But, the Dada Life track “Kick Out The Motherf**ker” also bangs on its own. Put ’em together and whatya got? Bippity boppity boo.

The mashup happens at the one hour six minute (1:06:00) mark; from Hardwell’s set at Tomorrowland 2012:

And here are the two tracks individually:

Kick Out The Epic Mother – Dada Life

Epic – Sandro Silva & Quintino

In Sander Van Doorn’s Sensation Innerspace 2012 set, he offers another mashup with “Epic,” this time to Example’s “The Way You Kiss Me” at the fifty-eight thirty (58:30) mark. Classic banging beat with classic vocal overlay.

As a side note, my actual favorite track from this set is this vocal gem released last year, but still sounding awesome:

Nothing Inside – Sander Van Doorn ft. Mayaeni

The last mashup to me demonstrates the zenith of mashup technique. This is a mashup of a house track WITH vocals mashed up with a vocal-laden indie-sounding emo pop killer. It helps that the house track is Avicii’s “Le7els” The Hot Six’s 2011 HOTTEST Track of the Year, and a track that just happens to goes well with anything! Put ’em together and whatya got? You guessed it. Bippity boppity boo.

Le7els v. Somebody That I Used to Know – Avicii

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