TikTok is ushering in a new era of the mashup. The social platform that thrives on both the momentum of virality, as well as tapping into the niche of individual creators, has seen some new stars emerge who connect the DJ mashup, the live mashup, and video creation of it all, in a completely new way.
If you're an OG follower of EARMILK, you have watched some of these artists reach heights on SoundCloud and Mashup Monday. We watched the ascent of artists who made simple, but brilliant choices in what music to pair together. While there were a class of artists who did this under anonymity, others jump started their careers after seeing their mashups take off. Hardwell famously did this in 2009, bringing Steve Angello & Laidback Luke's "Show Me Love" together with Robin S.'s "Be," attracting major attention that truly led his career to where he is today. 3LAU launched his career leaning on his talent building mashup sequences. But as rights holders and labels took back their power on these streaming sites, mashups weren't an easy, fun, ticket to notoriety. Weekly radio shows had spritely sparks featuring new mashups. Now, they're tailored for distribution on radio as well as services like Spotify.
Some of these artists weathered the storm, while others (Mashmaticians, dj BC, Earworm, The White Panda, Kap Slap) we'll just have to keep in our memory. For years, the mashup remained a behind the scenes tool for artists to wow audiences with at live performances. Swedish House Mafia, Armin Van Buuren and Hardwell are famous for using such tools in their DJ sets, and the on stage medley became a staple in places like the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge.
From there, a niche next generation of the mashup appeared, with artists like Brasstracks tapping into the soul of live music and the love of nostalgia. But that was short lived, as copyright technology improved and the era itself began winding down and shifting to different platforms.
After disappearing into the ether for a few years, now, the TikTok era offers a platform for mashups across sound, genre, electronic artist or not, giving the floor to artists like Darcy Stokes, who works with live instrumentation as well as production elements in her mashup selections. Recreating original recordings and beats, artists can show their expertise in taste and in instrumentation, as well as, instead of hiding behind SoundCloud accounts, putting a face and brand out in front of their creations. Stokes's performances hit the sweet spot of showing the intersections between electronic music and live instrumentation, offering up an aspirational kind of view that we didn't have without a video into making a mashup.
BYNX heads in a more traditional route, mashing up two tracks—usually from different points in music history—from a DJ deck and a permanent grin. His "Songs That Were Meant For Each Other" series shows him, in what we can assume is LA, just as excited about discovering these pairings as he hopes the viewer is. He brings a visual emotion that hopefully, you'll now imagine our writers typing with as we share new music on EARMILK each day.
Let Me Kick It Like It’s 1986 Now
Then there's Oscar Wylde, the eagerly smiling mashup artist (and celebrity in his own right), who also works with a dual approach, pairing well known hits from across genres and history from behind an Ableton deck. In his videos, it's not clear whether it's our nostalgic serotonin that's the target, or our visual cortex.
This doesn't even begin to address the anonymous sounds that are mashed up from within the app and used on other videos. Varoon Ramesh, aka @vmeshbeats, is an artist who has a few thousand views on each of his own videos. But the sounds he has created for other users to use, with no video element of his own, have been used 5 billion times.
As these creators evolve, so, seemingly will the media on which they post. As other platforms like Twitch chase agreements with labels, copyright infringement rules and technology will get tighter and tighter. Enjoy this community while it's here, because as history will tell us, it's only a matter of time.