Wax Audio's Tom Compagnoni: Portrait Of A Mash-Up Artist
Rocks Off is quite keen on YouTube mashups. Whether it's famous ones like the contentious "Boulevard of Broken Songs," which melds Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" with Oasis's "Wonderwall" - and Noel Gallagher still says Green Day should pay him for ripping off his song - or the absolute perfection of parody that is Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" semi-featuring Danzig, we just instantly fall in love when heroes and villains team up.
Courtesy of Tom Compagnoni
The latest one we've come across is Wax Audio's workup of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall Part II" and the Bee Gees's "Stayin' Alive." You're picturing it, aren't you? For the first time you're realizing just how similar those guitar parts are. Take a listen:
Rocks Off sat down with Tom Compagnoni of Wax Audio to ask what drives someone to Human Centipede together two iconic '70s bands into this phantasmagoria of fusion.
Rocks Off: Other than some similar parts, what made you want to combine these two songs?
Tom Compagnoni: It just seemed like an obvious match. I composed the whole thing in my head, singing it in the shower, before sitting down to bash it out on the computer. Once I started I realized that it was going to be way harder than I first imagined.
The two tracks, whilst having similar structures harmonically, are in completely different keys. To get them to work together required some serious pitch-shifting and meticulous beat matching. Every single beat in the track is manually corrected so it fits perfectly.
RO: Do you think the mashup gives the songs a combination of their original messages, or a whole new message all together?
TC: I think it's interesting because "The Wall" is about alienation and "Stayin' Alive" is about struggling through life - heard together, they give off two different perspectives of life's hardships and challenges. But to be honest, that didn't really occur to me when I was making it. I was more struck by how well the songs complemented each other stylistically and harmonically.
RO: How did you get started doing mashups?
TC: I have always had an interest in audio editing and producing. I used to make remixes as a kid on the tape recorder using the pause button excessively (breaking several of them in the process). When computers started becoming widely available to consumers along with professional audio editing software, I just jumped all over it.
When I first heard mashups in around 2002, I just knew this was something I had to get into. I knew I would be good at it; it's an instinctive thing for me. Plus the advent of the WWW meant there was a huge and accessible audience out there. It was a technological and cultural revolution and I wanted to be a part of it.