During a chat some years ago in an online forum, I was asked if I play mashups and mixes produced by other DJs. I was incensed! “Absolutely not,” I replied indignantly! After all, I’m very proud of my own mashups and special mixes. Why would I even THINK about playing the work of other DJs?
But if you really think about it, absolutely everything we play was created by other artists! We’re simply blending their work together skillfully (let’s hope) and distinguishing between another DJs production and the work of bands/musicians is, in reality, a silly distinction. And, truth be told, there are some amazingly skilled DJ artists that I now admit to including in my own performances.
A Cut Above
Mashup artists are a dime a dozen these days, but there are a few who stand out for their dead-on skill and creativity. One of the very first who broke down my resistance is DJ John (Leichty). On the advice of a colleague, I found his “Juke Box Hero Project” mashup which perfectly blended Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” with Foreigner’s title track, along with a handful of other goodies, such as The Doors and Sir Mix A Lot’s “Posse On Broadway.” It was the perfect bridge from classic rock to hip-hop for my then eclectic bar crowd. That track was followed by his “Rockin’ Down the House With Rum & Coca-Cola,” which is basically a reworking of the old war era song by the Andrew’s Sisters with a fresh rhythm track. When working a senior citizens event, I took a chance and dropped that track and had guests coming up to me calling it “brilliant” and thanking me for making an old favorite sound new again. (Yes, I got accolades for the work of DJ John. Thank you, buddy, wherever you are!)
Another of his mashups suddenly became important again with the recent death of Glenn Frey; “Victim of Da Funk (The Eagles Vs. Daft Punk).” Not only is it timely, but allows me to mix in a song I might not otherwise be able to use.
The Annual Fix
The very first time I got a request from a wedding client for a YouTube only mashup was for an artist known as DJ Earworm. It was early 2010, and his “United State of Pop 2009 (Blame It On The Pop)” was blowing minds and creating fans, eventually including me. While previous and subsequent efforts have been more or less strong, I always look forward to his annual Top-40 recaps. His latest 2015 recap crams 50 different songs into a surprisingly chill mashup. And yes, I’m known to play them.
Finally, one more in my exclusive club of DJs I include in my mix is Joel-Steven Hammond, better known as Voicedude. His mashups are less annual recaps and more “purpose built” for various dates and occasions. Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Halloween – whatever the occasion — he’s got a mashup or two that fills the bill. Speaking of Glenn Frey and the sudden re-interest in the Eagles, his “I’ll Be Missing You One Of These Nights (Puff Daddy ft. Faith Evans Vs. The Eagles)” has found its way onto my playlist. Like me, Joel loves the Beatles, too, and has crafted some extremely unlikely musical marriages, such as “Come Together Uptown (Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson Vs. The Beatles)” and “I Just Need To Hold Your Hand (The Cars Vs. The Beatles).” I also wouldn’t make the mistake of missing his “Short Cake, Long Beatle (Cake Vs. The Beatles).” His passion for bringing the old classics together with current artists again shows in his “Mars Chocolate” (Hot Chocolate Vs. Bruno Mars)”, which can bring different generations out onto the same dance floor.
These artists have set a very high bar, and I consider it the highest praise I can give by including their work in my own show. They also inspire me to make my own mashups and mixes sound every bit as good. I hope they’ve inspired you as well! Fire up Ableton or your favorite production software and see what happens. It’s what we create that distinguishes a DJ/producer from a “just press play” DJ.