Back in early 2007 a friend of mine introduced me to the wonderful world of mashups. The first track he shared with me was a collection of pop hits of that year all mashed into one epic tune. I really did not pay attention to it at the time. I thought it was interesting, but did not give it the full attention it deserved. Fast forward two years later and I was back into the same mashup artist’s page and was forever obsessed. I was scrolling through all of the mashups to date and collecting the artfully constructed songs while blaring them through my small fraternity room. College weekends officially began for my friends when I would return back from class to play these mashups, causing the house to vibrate. The artist who had me promoting this loud mayhem is none other than DJ Earworm. As colleges and universities begin their fall semesters, DJ Earworm was set to perform at Brooklyn NYU MetroTech building number six for the incoming freshman. Using my sly contact skills, I was able to secure a quick talk with the mashup king before his show.
For those of you unfamiliar with DJ Earworm’s work, let me explain for you his talent. He is most known for combining annual pop songs that contain the Billboard Top 25 hits of that year. Through this combination, he creates songs that carry an unforgettable blend of danceable magic that not only honors but also helps embolden the individual artists within. He calls these mashups, United States of Pop (2007, 2008, etc.). Along with these amazing mashups, he also creates videos that are beautifully in-tune with each mashup of the music videos embedded. They are delightfully crafted and can sometimes cause goose bumps of intense satisfaction.
I met DJ Earworm in an empty conference hall in the MetroTech building amid a loud and rambunctious crowd of freshman and upper classman who were pumping everyone up for a night of celebration for the new school year. The grinning DJ was more than happy to chat and was full of excitement for the night ahead. We sat at two empty desks and began our talk.
DJ Earworm shared with me the origin of this entire project. “Before I was doing this, I was just doing song writing and music production. For a road trip, I made a mix tape experimenting with time stretching and small loops of whole songs blending in with others. There were no intentions at this time to being a DJ. After cutting up some more songs in the same key, it stuck. A buddy of mine suggested I put these online for people to take. However, he did mention that these songs would not be [a money maker] since we were not entirely sure that this was legit. There were a good proportion of people lurking online for this stuff and then I came up with my name, DJ Earworm. I wanted to create mashups that would be converted into musical crack.” That is exactly what DJ Earworm’s mashups do, the make one addicted.
Despite the fact that DJ Earworm claims to not be a fan of the social tone in music, he has penetrated a unique niche that has made him one of a kind. “I am all about music ownership. Just knowing that if I own a piece, it is mine. It is an empowering thought. What I am doing is playing with music and manipulating it to form it into a new arrangement. Eventually, I began feeling that these mashups need to be celebratory. They need to be less about me and more about us, a collection of our shared experiences. That is why there is a theme in each mashup either tied to current events or simply the feeling that was going on in that particular time.”
My favorite mashups of DJ Earworm are the 2009 and 2011 United States of Pop songs. DJ Earworm mentions that the 2009 mashup is more of a pick me up song while 2011 is a protest anthem. “It, 2009, was made right after all the economic turmoil. As fate would have it, the message that sprung out of it all was that we can get through this and move ahead even if we have been pushed down. Even the underling chorus of ‘down’ was said so repeatedly in the various songs it practically built itself. As for 2011, there was an angry message within. It is a protest song full of nihilistic feelings and an ‘I don’t care’ attitude. Although the majority of it all is a theme of ‘just keep on dancing through it.’ Even the videos that were mashed with the songs had an angry apocalyptic feel. Things were pretty heated in that time and people had enough.”
Since then, DJ Earworm has been on the rise and has done a ton of amazing things. Even after his first mashup he has gotten congratulatory calls from Maroon 5’s people and even did a remix of Lady Gaga’s work per her personal request! Probably one of his most memorable events to have taken part of was the 2012 Olympics. “I was spinning for a bunch of venues outside of the stadium for people. I even spun for the boxing and field hockey events.”
After we finished our conversation I meandered my way into the auditorium to see DJ Earworm in action. I entered the doors to a rowdy and enthusiastic bunch of college students. Upper classmen were yelling and urging me to get my picture taken. Not thinking I had a choice, I regrettably obliged. The crowd was very happy and excited with herds of freshman wandering to and fro checking each other out. The space was full of fun events and things to do. Right by the main entrance there was a photo booth that was immediately followed by a bouncy platform, with football, air hockey, Guitar Hero, and so much more spread out. The opening DJ was doing his thing while a dance circle broke out in the center of the floor. He was still learning how to work the crowd. All the while kids were grabbing endless amounts of food and drinks with joy. It was funny, the upper classman all thought I was a freshman and kept encouraging me to talk to my new ‘classmates.’ It must have been my baby face…
At this point DJ Earworm was announced and the students became insane! A nerdy mosh pit began with kids having a ball and grinding on each other. DJ Earworm wasted no time and had everyone grooving to his new mashups. His energy is infectious as his face was full of expression. Most of the set was bass driven with an intense focus for this music master. All of the tunes were obvious hits of the last year that worked perfectly for the night. Everyone was happily singing along and dancing away. DJ Earworm had them in the palm of his hand. It was great.
This man is not planning to stop anytime soon. As long as there is great pop music out there, he will be the guy mashing it up. To add onto the excitement, DJ Earworm will be releasing his first original track this year. It will be his first song created by him alone. Keep a look out for it to come. As for his past work, I will let them speak for themselves. Just take a look at his webpage and become addicted with me. I think you will all find some new glamour in the mashup space thanks to DJ Earworm. Come on and join us on the dance floor!