These frequently asked questions here are a collection of questions that I’ve been asked in different interviews lately. They give you answers about my background and also feature topics on the music production itself.
1. What’s with that unusual DJ name?
Schmolli has been my nickname since I was a child, it refers to my real last name. I’ve simply been too lazy to pick another DJ name so I stuck with my nickname.
2. Where are you from?
I’m based south of Vienna, Austria.
3. How and when did you get involved with producing mashups?
I’ve heard one or two mashups back in 2000 on our national radio. There hasn’t been a scene around this time, only a couple of people released their mixes on the internet, most of them were found on Napster. I did my first mix also in 2000 but mainly to get knowledge on the mixing software. I produced very few around 2000/2001 but then concentrated more on my other musical projects as I am a musician too. Back in 2005 I rediscovered mashups. I found out that a huge scene has grown on the internet. There were quite a few websites and forums dedicated to them. I started to produce those mixes again and still produce them to this very day.
4. How do you define a mashup?
The easiest definition would be to take an instrumental track and put an acapella track of another song on top. To make the mix more interesting it’s good to use different musical genres. Of course you can also use many different source tracks in one mashup or lay different elements on top of each other. But this is for advanced mashup producers as it’s not easy from the production aspect.
5. How many mashups did you produce so far?
Can’t tell you the exact number but about 300 I guess.
6. What kind of techniques do you use in the production process? Where do you get the audio source material from?
The whole process is based on software. I use Sony Acid Pro to combine all the bits and pieces. I think the interesting part here is the techniques I use to get the actual audio material to work with. There are various techniques how to get an acapella or an instrumental of one song. If no official instrumental is available you can cut out instrumental loops from the song or an extended version of the song. Many acapellas are available on the net, sometimes they are b-sides on 12’’ releases. You can also get an acapella by the so called “phase inversion”, but you need an instrumental for this. Just put the version with vocals and the instrumental version exactly on top of each other and change the phase of the wave form on one channel. With a bit of luck the instrumental waves get cancelled out and the acapella is left. There is also a method called center channel extraction which works well especially on old recordings were the instrumentals are hard panned on the left and right side. The vocals are right in the center of the mix and if you cut off the left & right sides there’s a chance that the vocals are left with some little instrumental bleed but ok to use in mashup mix. If I am lucky I get acapellas and instrumentals directly from the label, that helps a lot of course.
7. How do you make a mashup? Tell us about the process?
First off I need to check if the songs that I want to mix fit each other by having a look at their keys and tempos. When I found a theoretically fitting couple I make a quick demo. This usually takes just a couple of minutes, just to see if the combo also fits practically, not only in theory. Sometimes it’s necessary to pitch up/down one of the source tracks to make it fit keywise. Of course the tempos of the tracks need to be beatmatched in almost all of the cases, unless the source tracks have exactly the same tempo. Sometimes I use additional beats or sounds but in most cases I just use single elements of the source tracks. From then it’s just arranging and mixing, adjusting the different volumes. The last step would be some kind of mastering (by using a couple of software plug-ins) to finish the production.
8. Are you musically trained (can you play an instrument, read sheet music, etc.)? When you make a mashup, is any of that useful to you?
Yes I am a guitar player for almost 20 years now. I can’t read sheet music very well but I got a lot of knowledge of harmonies, chords etc., so yes this knowledge helps me a lot to produce my mashups.
9. Do you think that the copyright issues with mashups are deterring the possibilities for it to be popular in the mainstream?
Yes. Very few mashups have been legally released and it’s always quite some court proceeding to get everything cleared. Most radio stations refuse to play them. Mashups are an internet phenomenon and will always be I think.
10. You are a producer but also a DJ, do you work in several clubs or are you mostly based in one? How important is your popularity as a mashup artist in getting hired for DJing?
I deejay in several clubs, in fact anywhere in the world where you wanna throw a big party. The fact that my mashups have become pretty popular over the years helps a lot to get gigs. At least 80% of my gigs are bookings where I play mainly mashups.
11. How can I book you?
See the “Booking” button in the menu on top?
12. When you DJ are you spinning CDs, vinyl or do you play with a laptop?
I have been using CDs for ages but in 2010 I finally decided to switch over to a laptop. I use the computer in combination with a Vestax VCI-300 controller so that gives me a similar feel to the CD players.
13. What is the place of mashups in the club scene where you are based/work? Are there special nights dedicated to mashups in clubs? Are there dedicated venues?
Basically mashups are a big factor for DJs in these days. Many of them play mashups in their sets but only a couple per night. DJ nights with mashups only are still very rare. The biggest mashup parties worldwide are called Bootie (www.bootiemashup.com). They are hosted in San Francisco, L.A., New York, Boston, Berlin, Paris, Munich, Rio etc., I also started one in Vienna. Lately regular held mashup parties are getting quite popular in Germany too.
14. I’ve got a question that has not been covered here…
Put it in the reply box below please.