We thought it would be great to learn a bit more about who is using the 4PocketsAudio range and what they are using it for so it give me great pleasure to welcome you to our very first 4PocketAudio.com Monthly Interview.
I am a big fan of MashUps, as well as enjoying the tracks I am fascinated by the process that artists go through to create them. So I am really pleased that the award winning DJ Flashard has agreed to be the first of monthly interviewee and tell us a bit more about Mash Ups.
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself and what got you interested in MashUps.
A. “I’ve always been interested in music – certainly from a very early age. I was always going out spending my pocket money on the latest chart music – 7” vinyl singles and, if I could afford, LPs. One of my earliest memories is buying the original Village People – YMCA records and playing on loop on my Dads record player (until he asked me to stop – presumably because he’d heard it too many times!). So I kind of grew up listening to music, from the sounds of the late 70’s, through the 80’s and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (I’m a bit of a rocker at heart!), and up to today’s tracks. Having done a bit of DJ’ng work in my late teens, I was always interested in different remixes and the idea of creating a continuous mix by blending records in to one to create sometime new. Then, one day in early 2009, some years after my DJing days were over, I stumbled across a website where you could download separate instrumental and acapella tracks from various artists, which set me on the road to finding and falling in love with mashups. Around the same time, I also discovered a website call MashStix who let you post your own creations and people gave feedback / their opinion on what you’d done. This was (and very much still is) a very friendly place and where I am now a moderator for the site. Kind of feels like a home, having grown up through the ranks”.
Q. What gives you the inspiration for a Mash Up, do you just hear a track and think yes I want to work with that?
A. “Sometimes, yes, I’ll hear a track and think ‘that will work nicely with such and such’, but it really depends if you can find and download the parts (acapella, instrumental or stems) freely on-line. Normally, when I’m looking for material, it will be a track I know and like – I do this as a hobby, not as an income, so I like to work with music I enjoy myself. Otherwise, it’s trying to find tracks that key match, have a similar tempo and you’re able to work with the structure of the tracks to ensure the verse and choruses can be made to match”.
Q. When I look at your Mash Ups you don’t seem to go for either easy or obvious matches, I am thinking of your Beyonce vs Greenday, and Edwin Star vs Genesis vs Public Enemy vs Beyonce (War and Confusion) so How do you decide which tracks will work together?
A. “Key matching is the key, excuse the pun! The keys have got to match, otherwise it will sound awful. I use a programme called Mixed In Key to help. Most Mashup producers will aim to bring artists from different genres together in their work – certainly there is more kudos in the scene for mashing different styles and genres together and making something new. For my War and Confusion mash, it was for the final of the MashStix Mash Challenge from 2011 – they had very clear rules on what was required for the final of the competition, but I also wanted to run with a theme on that one, and doing a multi-source mash was certainly outside of my comfort zone (although I did okay as I won the comp!)”.
Q. I know this is going to sound a really simplistic question but once you have got your tracks how do you go about mashing them?
A. “On my PC, I use a programme called Sony Acid Pro to mix the different sources together (although they are others available). I start by laying down the instrumental and setting the tempo right. I then add the vocals / acapella on the top and set the tempo of that to match the instrumental. It’s then a case of matching up the verses and choruses, trying to match the chord progression, adding some effects to the vocals, volume balancing the sources and generally trying to make the various parts blend together to sound like an original track”.
Q. I know you have used your iPad for some of your Mash Ups, how do you find working on it compared to your desktop.
A. “Using Meteor is great for mashing whilst I’m away from my home PC. I just upload the sources I want to use, then mix away with my earphones on. The only niggle I have is that I struggle to be accurate enough on the iPad (compared with a PC). My finger, or stylus, isn’t as accurate as a mouse, and sometimes you need to place a vocal one pixel to the left, for example – easy with a mouse, but with your finger it takes longer”. (The zoom feature on Meteor will help you with this Flash)
Q. There are a great range of quality music apps available for the iPad, do you think this is leading to it being considered as a mainstay of the recording studio rather that something they can use when they are on the move?
A. “I only really use Meteor on my iPad. I have other music apps like keyboards and drum machines, but I’ve yet to use them in producing a mashup (although I love the idea of programming my own drum loops and use stems to replace the original drums with my own). I guess with apps like Garage Band and Meteor MultiTrack Recorder being more and more popular, there shouldn’t be any reason why producers and remix / mashup artists won’t start using iPads and tablets in more scenarios”.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to make their first Mash Up?
A. “Obviously, apart from getting the right software to enable you to create a mashup, you need sources. Having a large pool of sources downloaded and available helps – build up your collection over time. All mine are already run through Mixed In Key, so I can just go to the programme and it tells me which tracks key match which and the tempo. From there, it’s finding two (or more) tracks that you think match and taking it from there. Post your creation on a forum (like MashStix.Com) to get feedback from other people. Finally, don’t be too precious about what you think is the final mash and be able to take advice and criticism from others – be willing to change or adjust what you’ve done to make it sound better – if we were all that good, we’d be getting paid for what we do and making a living out of it!”
Q.What does the future hold for DJ Flashard
A. “I don’t really know. Probably more of the same. As I said, this is a hobby for me, so it’s finding the time away from my work, family and social life to make more mashups, although I find it an absolute honour and privilege to be asked to contribute to a number of mashup albums that are put together and freely available online (Envision’s Smash the Genre and SoundUnsound’s Summer Booty 2012 albums, to name just two – check them out!). I also enjoy entering competitions, so, time permitting, I should look out for a few more of those. Otherwise, watch this space and check out my blog”.
We hope you have enjoyed this feature, many thanks to Flashard for taking the time to talk to us it is really appreciated. For further information on DJ Flashard and to hear more of his great Mash Ups check our his blog DJ Flashard Blog
Also check out MastStix.com its a great place to head for if you want to know more about Mash Ups.
Look out for next months interview is with Milos Twilight, Producer of the Gothic Assassins Movie.