I had forgotten when this was originally published, but thanks to a reference to Chico Time within it, I'm able to be certain it was published in February 2006. It may have taken 7 years but finally that song has found it's use.
Cities make music. Geographical and social situations coalesce and from the melting pot musical genres emerge. The production lines and diverse population of Detroit’s motor city led to Motown, and the civil rights movement and anger at the government led to the MC5. Liverpool was one of the first places in the UK where rock n roll records hit our shores thanks to the vibrant shipping industry, and a few plucky young lads got inspired and started their own rock n roll band. But now, for the first time in history, a new musical genre has emerged from the ether. As much as many creators of the mashup will claim it was their city that started the trend, the natural home of the mashup isn’t geographical.
Mcsleazy: It’s the first style of music
that owes its popularity and current existence to the internet. The collation
of acapellas, the meeting of like minded folk, the distribution of the finished
article – the internet is integral to all the stages of the creation of the
bootleg There’s no other style of music where this is the case
I had the 2manyDjs album, I had heard and enjoyed Freelance Hellraiser's Stroke of Genieus. I even had a copy of the whipped cream mixes by the evolution control committee on vinyl, but I don’t think I truly embraced the mashup until I found it online. As far as I knew, mashups had come and gone. But then someone sent me a link to the Sixxmixx, a weekly San Francisco radio show by partyben, devoted to mashups and available to download. It was a revelation. It was harmonious, exciting, and current. This wasn’t just a comedy mashup, this was something more. Using the Sixxmix as my first landmark, I’ve been able to back track from this point and discover a thriving and very much alive culture of mashup artists that have amazed me with their skill and imagination. Partyben of course, but DJ Riko, Pojmasta, Lou and Placido, DJ Zebra, the cassette boys, and of course, Glasgow’s own McSleazy.
Mcsleazy started the Get Your Bootleg On website in 2002, and in just a few short years it has become an icon. It's the natural home for the mashup, where old veterans and kids just getting started all share the same space, it’s a singularly original place in the music industry. It’s democratic, and the respect you earn comes from your genuine skill and how you treat others. Anyone can make a mashup these days, the internet provides the raw materials in p2p software, gybo gives you a place to share.
Mcsleazy: Technology is a factor too.
It’s like the first time someone made a cheap, easily accessible guitar.
Suddenly everyone bought one, but 98% of the tunes people wrote were crap.
In mashup’s case, the guitar is a program called ACID by Sony, in recent years seemingly tailoring itself to bootleg production, making it ever easier, ever simpler for someone to go from idea, to finished article shared with the world in a matter of hours. Indeed, on McSleazy’s radio show he does just that, asks the listeners to choose some tracks and gets someone to mash them together into a new song before the show is finished.
Do you think it’s as strong now as ever? How sustainable a genre do you think it is?
The quality ratio is the same. The level of originality wavers. They’ve been very successful recently.
for sustainability – it’s a unique genre. It bounces off every other style of
music, so if any style of music becomes fashionable or popular, then the
bootlegs can reflect that
it’s constantly evolving and bouncing off styles. It’s always fresh
Why do you think many people don’t take it too seriously? Do you take it seriously? As a genre in itself?
Companies dismiss it. They used to embrace it, but then they didn’t know what
to do with it. They thought that because it was an underground style of music,
they could exploit it. But how do you commercialise something that’s
fundamentally a bastardisation of what the record companies do?
They couldn’t figure out how to make money out of it.
Bands generally liked it
Radio stations loved it
The press jumped on it too
I kept doing it cos of the reaction when I was DJing
I mean in more of a public perception. I was thinking that it’s difficult for people to see beyond it as a bit of fun. Perhaps because there is no original voice within the music. Even something as sample heavy as hip hop has a some personal voice in it, however slight
but the wider public have just put Chico Time at number 1 for the second week
But do you consider it important to be taken seriously? I think mashups can be very disarming, they can strip a track of whatever message or meaning it may have already had. People get cross about that.
can strip a track of whatever message or meaning it may have already had” –
that’s a 2 way street – it can add meaning too.
The best bootlegs – I think – are ones that mix genres, messages, styles
and create something new
A bad mash-up can ruin two songs at once. A good mash-up takes two songs that you already know, and makes a completely new track that the listener is already familiar with. Like I said, the main outlet I have – apart from the radio – is DJing live. When people hear the intro to a track, then something new kicks in, it’s always, always a good reaction. I’ve played tracks that I thought may be too sacrilegious to abuse, but there’s not been an instance of that yet.
No, it should absolutely not be taken seriously. It’s party music.
Party music, absolutely. The joy of the mashup, the thing that separates it from other entirely sample based music, is the familiarity. When you’re out at a disco you are waiting for those first few bars of that song you love, it’s all about expectation and delivery. Mashups give you expectation, then surprise, then more expectation. It keeps you on your toes and makes you laugh and smile as well as dance and shake your ass.
This constant battle between what you love, what you think you’ve heard a thousand times and suddenly hear for the first time all over again is what makes mashups so wonderful, so powerful. Also it’s a democratic artform where everything is welcome. Nothing is cool and nothing is sacred, it’s all music there to be enjoyed.
Yeah – I’ve done some really slow downtempo bootlegs that I still think are really good but the dance floor friendly ones are the ones everyone remembers and people always come back to you a week or so later telling you songs that they think will go well together
How do you get away with the copywrite stuff?
Get away in what sense?
Like, I see what happens to a lot of bootleg
sites, the cease and desist orders etc
and yet here you are, with your own website with your own stuff on it, plus a radio show and that stuff you’re doing for the film, you are quite high profile in the scene, and yet you don’t seem to have been targeted
It’s possibly because of the major label
affiliations that I’ve not been targeted
How can the BPI claim to represent the very people who are employing me ?
and try and stop me doing it?
It’s an irrelevance. Let’s say I mix Gorillaz
with Franz Ferdinand. I’m not putting out anything which the public can go out
and buy I’m not affecting any sales
I’m surely introducing some people to the music of these artists I’m not costing the labels anything
Inevitably, as the mash up scene gets older and larger, people will tend to drift away from the simplicity of A vs. B, tend to float more towards a style of glitch pop or perhaps some kind of atonal experimentation, like these pursuits are somehow more worthy. I think, at heart, the simplicity of the mashup is what makes it so wonderful, the accessibility of it, how something can be so familiar and so strange all at once, it’s a beguiling form. There are often misses, no doubt, but when they hit they hit hard, and you forget how the original songs went, there is a moment of serendipity, and you think, fuck art, let’s dance.
SELECTED MASHUP DISCOGRAPHY