Boston native Bob Cronin, better known as his alias djBC, has been causing quite the stir in the record mashup community for quite sometime. His self-produced albums have been played in nightclubs all over the world, including cities such as Athens, Paris, and NYC. Cronin is now serving as the resident DJ for the new mashup night sensation, Bootie ATL. The latest release entitled Fluent in Moe comes from Bob in the form of the pairing of soulful hip-hop and swingin ska music, and it packs quite the punch.
You’ve been involved in the mashup scene for the past 10 years now, which is a genre that has been blowing up heavily in recent years. Do you feel as if this is the height of popularity for mash-ups, or is this something that will be around in contemporary music for years to come?
The thing about mashups is- they are a genre, but they are also a way of listening to music. I suppose you could say there have been a few “waves” already in terms of the current movement, The London “MTV Mash” and Boomselection and Bastard wave (late 1990s, early 2000s), the Bootie and GYBO wave (starting around 2003), and the current wave where younger mashers who have grown up on this stuff are now taking to the laptops and blowing it up. But sample based music has been around since the 1950’s, at the very least. I think all sorts of art is just going to continue to be self-referential, sampled, and mashed, in every sense, as we move forward. It’s just another way we process and create art now. As long as there is new music and media to mix, kids will do it. They have the tools, and with the web, they have an audience. It’s pretty cool - no one needs to be a passive consumer anymore. We are all rock stars.
Let’s talk about your most recent release, Fluent in Moe, which takes the ska punk rockers Big D and the Kids Table and pairs them up with the spitfire paced rhymes of hip-hop artist Moe Pope, along with some incredible guest rappers. What makes this record stand out from your previous releases?
Once I started cutting it together, I was frankly astonished at how much emotion, style and impact came out of Moe’s rhymes when paired with the organic horn-driven soul and ska of Big D. This is probably the best record I have ever made, and that includes The Beastles stuff. It’s a genre clash conceptually, but the songs blend perfectly into their own space without sounding at all schizophrenic. The sound is natural and “Fluent in Moe” works as a complete album. And it’s an honor to work on an official release featuring artists like Edo G and Dana Colley (Morphine). Joe Gittleman from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones even plays bass on one track. And it’s legal, so I won’t be sued or served a C&D (Cease and Desist).
Since you know these musicians so well personally, did this affect how you mashed up their work? For instance, did they give you specific suggestions of what they wanted it to sound like, or was it all left up to you?
On these projects (this is actually the third official mashup record I have produced for Big D), Dave McWane and I always consult closely on the mixes in process. Usually he’s on tour, and I send him drafts via email, he sends me suggestions, sometimes he finds other samples I can use or has ideas for how to arrange the parts. Moe also had some suggestions for the placement of his vocals. There are usually between 4 and 10 drafts, versions or mixes of each song before we arrive at a final cut. But in the end, Big D and The Kids Table always gives me a 'last word” on the mix.
Tell me a little about your history with the Bootie events. What has your transition from Bootie Boston to Bootie Atlanta been like?
It’s been great. As you know, Bootie happens in cities all over the world, so it’s known to people who have relocated from different cities. A lot of people are still saying OH SHIT- Bootie is in ATL now?? So people are still finding out about it, and we are still finding our Bootie People. One thing I am finding about Atlanta is that the scene is very venue-oriented. I’ve been at three venues now, and Bootie works great with hipper, younger and gay crowds, who tend to go to specific clubs and bars. At the wrong sort of club, douchebags might get pissed that we aren’t playing the 'real’ songs or playing a constant stream of 127 bpm songs and Top 40 hits blended. So the right crowd means the right nightspot. I think we might have just found a good fit, a place called Noni’s Deli. August 9th will be our first party there.
Are copyright issues mostly a thing of the past, or do you still find yourself encountering legality problems in your profession?
I’m trying to make more legal records (like Fluent in Moe) so I can press vinyl, try and shop them to movies and ads, and so forth. I have kids so I need to be thinking about ways to be paid for my work. Copyright hasn’t been an issue for the past few years, as I think the record labels don’t quite know how to handle us. At first they tried to tamp it down (I got C&Ds on The Beastles, Glassbreaks, and Wu Orleans albums) but now I think they realize it’s not going away. When MCA died I put the Beastles back up as a free download (www.djbc.net/beastles) and I haven’t heard a peep from EMI about it. Yet.
The whole idea of the music mashup is a relatively new concept in pop culture, one that several DJs such as Super Mash Bros., Girl Talk, Max Tannone and others have had great success in. Do you see that success as a source of inspiration for creating mashups?
Perhaps in purely commercial terms, but that’s it. I know Girltalk and Super Mash Brothers are popular, but musically, they are a bit annoying to me. They are constantly out of key, and they don’t seem to know how to construct a pop song at all. They have a bunch of overused rap acapellas and a bunch of 80s loops, and they seem to throw them together somewhat randomly while jumping around. It might be a fun show for kids in a club, and the sheer number of samples might seem impressively high, but it’s not my style. I’m more into creating new pop songs or albums that work well as a coherent, sometimes meaningful, piece of music. But to each his own- if they turn kids on to the genre, that’s cool. Someone like Earworm is an inspiration for me- check out his annual year mixes. He will combine all the top 25 songs of any given year into a seamless, in-key composition (and video) which is usually a lot better than any of the songs was by itself. It’s pretty impressive. He’s been booked to provide mixes for the Olympics in London this summer, which shows the level of success he is having. Another inspiration is A+D (Adrian and The Mysterious D) who started the whole Bootie thing. In terms of running cool parties, and nightclub events, and building a musical community- A+D pretty much have it locked down. They have some success, they constantly travel the globe spinning awesome gigs, and they get the best mashup DJs in the world at their parties. Now THAT’S how you do.
What are your plans for next upcoming months? Are there more Bootie ATL events and tracks in the works you can talk about?
We’ll be starting at Noni’s Deli in August, and if it works out it will be a regular gig. To get the upcoming events info I’d ask people to sign up for the mailing list at www.bootieatl.com or like Bootie ATL and dj BC on Facebook. I’m currently beginning work on a mashup album with Suburban Legends and a big name rapper. I have a couple of movie-related projects I can’t discuss yet, but they are pretty awesome. And pretty soon it will be time to work on my 7th annual Holiday mashup collection, Santastic.
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