After a successful drop of hip hop/ punk mashup EP “Black Bastards,” Justin Mayer and THISISWHEREIAMALIVE had a chat about the release. Blending elements of hip hop lyricist MF Doom, and UK punks Doom, Mayer combined the two to jive and play with each other. Check out what he had to say about the release, and stream the EP at the bottom!
1. Give us a little background on yourself! (How long have you been working in the music industry, etc).
My name is Justin Mayer, I’m a producer from Philly. I used to be a promoter, shows and afterparties in punk, ska, and hardcore in New Jersey and Philadelphia. I started promoting when I was about 16. This is my first official release of any music.
2. Where do you find and draw creative influences from?
My influences are fairly eclectic: I listen to jazz and classical, hip hop and punk rock, skinhead reggae and dance music. I draw on anything for inspiration and think alot of about genre blending, taking the drums from this and the baseline from that.
3. Did you find it difficult to make these two starkly different genres combine on your “Black Bastards” EP?
Not at all. I was first shown it would be possible to blend vastly different genres by Girl Talk’s All Day where Gregg mashed up both Fugazi and Rihanna, Missy Elliot and the Ramones. Girl Talk empowered me, showed that it would even be possible to blend punk music with other genres. I read up on Girl Talk and how he made those mixes, went and downloaded (Adobe) Audition later that week – misremembering the name of the program that he uses which is called AudioMulch but by the time I found out about it I had gotten fairly used to Audition and that’s what I’ve used ever since – that’s how I make all my mixes.
4. Regarding the video for “Air Crimes,” why did you choose to use Charlie Brown animations?
A couple of reasons really, the germ of the idea came from a friends Facebook page. They had changed their header image to a picture of Pig Pen with the crust band Doom’s logo superimposed over him and I thought it was funny: Pig Pen as a smelly crust punk kid. Immediately, I remembered that MF DOOM sold these shirts with Charlie Brown wearing the metal-face mask, and that there were a bunch of Wu-Tang lyric Peanuts strips, so it all seemed to click. There are a few videos online of people synching up stock Charlie Brown clips to music, Pay To Cum by Bad Brains and Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic by the Police – alot of the clips from the Christmas music special.
I downloaded every episode with Franklin it, all the musical episodes, and a few with Pig Pen and started chopping the clips up while learning Adobe Premiere. Franklin didn’t have too many speaking roles but I mapped out all the Franklin clips where he was talking but his head wasn’t moving around so I could put the mask on him without too much effort.
5. How do you think this EP reflects your artistical identity, and talents as a musician and producer?
This is a good reflection of where I’m at now and a hint of where I’m going. I’m working on a larger scale record and this Doom mashup was something of an aside from that. I’m collaborating with other musicians, punk guitarists, jazz drummers, a few vocalists. The Doom mashup was a novel idea and I’m happy I got a chance to do it justice.
6. How has the feedback been for the EP so far?
It’s been great! It’s sort of a niche thing of course, punk fans have been really positive. It’s definitely made for them. Hip Hop heads used to listening to DOOM flow over some smooth vintage cartoon clips might be in for a surprise though. Most criticism has been ‘why blend the two’ or the ‘sounds like two records at once’ response which people-that-dot-like-mashups have to mashups, period. Win some, lose some.
7. Would you be interested in creating another mash up like this in the future?
Probably not. This was a fun thing to have obsess me, but I’ll likely move on to other projects. I have a half dozen other projects to start, alot of musical ’theories’ to test out.
8. How long did it take you to create this EP from start to finish?
Good question, about two months. I did the first song in two nights, basically downloading all the free DOOM acapellas I could find and did a few match-tests to a couple Doom songs. When they clicked, I built the instrumental under the acapella bar by bar. I went back and listened to the Doom catalogue, tried Acapellas atop their most popular songs (this ‘formulaic’ effort by the way rarely ever works), but at the end chose songs that showed a little more range to the band and where I could blend more of the band’s vocals in with MF DOOM’s. I continued to tweak the mixes here and there until the night I released it.
9. Where did you get the idea to do a rap/ crust punk mash up?
It was a novel idea I had – mainly off the wordplay – ‘what If I mixed Doom and Doom?’. I had thought of mixing the rapper Prodigy with the big beat band The Prodigy but nixed it pretty quickly. The first mashup I really ever heard was that Linking Park/Jay Z. It’s a guilty pleasure – as in I’m embarrassed about how much I like it. I later got into Danger Mouse’s catalogue, his early production work with Pelican City and mashup mixes before hearing Grey Album. There’s a mashup called Jay Z at Studio One I’m into, a mashup called Leftover Kanye, and of course Wugazi was a big inspiration.
10. If you could do one thing differently on the EP, what would it be?
Nothing. Aesthetically, if you produce up punk rock too much it starts to lose it’s value. If it’s too clean, I’m not into it. In a perfect world – if I had access to the Doom master tapes – I’d use different songs or bring out the band’s vocals better, but this is the record I wanted to make and I’m very happy with it.