Deconstructing the Perfect Mashup with Adrian (A Plus D, Bootie SF) and Remixer/Producer Shahar Varshal

Posted by Billyjam, August 9, 2014 08:00pm | Post a Comment

"Timber Party" Pitbull ft Kesha vs Rihanna vs RedNex vs Garbage (Shahar Varshal Mashup) (2014)

Last weekend at the weekly Bootie SF party in San Francisco when DJ Mysterious D dropped the above mashup track into her mix the already packed and energized DNA Lounge dancefloor revved into full-on party mode dancing with wild abandon to the mashup that pitch-perfectly blends elements of '90's hits by both Garbage and RedNex with the current era hits by Pitbull featuring Ke$ha ("Timber") and Rihanna  ("What Now"). It was no wonder the Saturday night club goers responded so well to the Shahar Varshal produced "Timber Party" since the remix qualifies as the perfect mashup - one that expertly builds upon each of its elements so that the whole is even greater than the sum of its already spectacular parts.

In the case of the "Timber Party" mashup, producer Varshal takes two already great contemporary pop songs ("Timber" released late last year as a single off Pitbull's 2013 release Global Warming: Meltdown and Rihanna's hugely popular 2013 single "What Now") but elevates both to new heights by melding the best of the two together (the Rihanna vocal only here) and adding in perfectly chosen parts of both RedNex (usually fun but kinda cheesy, guilty pleasure) 1994 hit single "Cotton Eye Joe," and the vocals from 90's alt rock, female fronted band Garbage's breakout 1995 hit single "I'm Only Happy When It Rains"  - making Shirley Manson's sultry vocals sound even better than on the original by giving her a whole new instrumental backdrop thanks to the Pitbull track and matching her up with Rihanna - the most unlikely yet perfect pairing of voices - and all the while anchoring the song with the Ke$ha "I'm yelling timber" chorus vocal as the song's main hook.

See/hear each of the original four songs in their individual music videos below to compare with the remixed mashed up version above. Additionally below is the audio only of the 1979 track "San Francisco Bay" by Lee Oscar (off his album Before The Rain) - the original song "Timber" heavily built its track upon by sampling it but speeding it up significantly.

Adrian of the duo A Plus D - Mysterious D's DJ/producer/promoter partner and fellow co-founder of the club Bootie - agrees that Shahar Varshal's mashup is totally on point and hence why A+D recently chose it for their website's monthly Bootie Top Ten mashup downloads featuring the best new productions from all round the world. "He’s from Israel [and] there’s a few good mashup producers coming out of Israel right now," said Adrian earlier this week when I asked him what in his opinion made the perfect mashup: the instrumentation or the track BPM, or the key a song is in or some other factor? "Of course, the two (or more) songs that are being mashed up together need to be the in same key, and in the same tempo. But that only gets a mashup to “work” — it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be anything special. Most current chart music is in the same key and tempo, but there’s very little creativity or inspiration in mashing up two current chart hits. Those are what we call “what’s the point?” mashups," replied Adrian, who will be spinning a set with Mysterious D as A Plus D tonight at Bootie SF's Outside Lands weekend themed night, adding that, "For a mashup to really stand out, there usually needs to be an “OMG WTF” factor involved, and that’s usually taking an older, forgotten song and breathing new life into it — recontextualizing it in a new way, perhaps taking a retro hit and mashing it up with a newer song. Or by either mixing disparate genres together, or mashing up songs from different eras, yet still showcasing the connection points those songs share, whether it be lyrically, or musically."  This week I also reached out to Shahar Varshal, who does his mashup productions as a fun hobby, to interview him for the Amoeblog on his "Timber Party" production and his mashup career to date. That interview follows below the five videos immediately below.

Pitbull "Timber (feat. Ke$ha)" (2013)

Rihanna "What Now" (2013)

Garbage "Only Happy When It Rains" (1995)

Rednex "Cotton Eye Joe" (1994)

Lee Oskar "San Francisco Bay" (1978) - song that "Timber" (2013) is heavily built upon

Amoeblog: Where exactly do you live and when did you first begin to do music production?

Shahar Varshal: I'm living in Israel; in Petach Tikwa - city near Tel Aviv. When I was really young I worked as DJ in small parties. Today I work as sound designer for video productions, promos, commercials etc. So that is how I connected to the audio editing softwares, music, and so on.

Amoeblog: When did you first begin to do mashups?

Shahar Varshal: In August 2012 I made a mashup with Omer Adam  [popular Israeli artist known for fusing elements of eastern "Mizrahi" vocals with contemporary western pop instrumentation] and did a mashup with The Spice Girls. It was fun and I get good feedback including from the big Israeli entertainment website Mako who asked to publish it. It was all so much fun that I decided to work on more mashups in my free time.

Amoeblog:  When producing mashups do you ever have to use a certain program to isolate the vocals if there is no acapella version?

Shahar Varshal: Actually I always seem to find acapella versions of what I need online somewhere.

Amoeblog: Like many mashup producers you also do accompanying videos for your tracks. For you what comes first: the audio or the video version? And in your opinion what are the key differences between video and audio mashup productions?

Shahar Varshal: The video is the easy and fun part of the mashup. I edit it after the audio version is completed. Actually the main role of the video as I see it is to promote the audio track.  Of course I will try to do my best and make it look as creative as I can. And it's an important tool in sharing via social networks. The audio editing is hard. You need to find songs that fit together, to match them as close as you can, frame by frame, and you can spend a lot of time in searching songs that match, to change the key, cut, edit, work on audio processing, and mixing and so on. The video editing is to sync the timing between the video and the audio (songs always get BPM change in mashup), and then you can play it until you're happy with the result. I really enjoy doing it. But the main idea when I start a mashup is all about the audio. And then after I've finished; then the video. 

Amoeblog: Do you first think of a mashup idea in your head and then go to the computer to try it out or do you begin the mashup on the computer first?

Shahar Varshal:  It's not always the same process; sometimes I think of an idea and then try it. But most of the time I begin with a song that I really like and then search some songs that match with it. Sometimes I hear new song that show up that I like it and try to find some song that matches it. I have two personal rules to abide by: one of them is to only work on songs that I like, or at least that I know well - a mashup can change an annoying song to a fun one to listen to - and also I try to mashup songs from different genres.

Amoeblog: I love how in your "Timber Party" mashup how you made Shirley Manson's voice flow perfectly into Rihanna's singing, and their voices sounding in the exact same key.  How important is it to match the key in mashup songs?

Shahar Varshal: It's very important. Songs can't match together if they are not in the same key. So most of the time I need to change the key of one of the songs to make it so that it will fit together. And then sometimes the key might change in the middle of the song or in some specific part and that needs to be changed too.

Follow Shahar Varshal on FacebookSoundCloud, YouTube, and Vimeo and look
for him on Mashstix  the website with the largest forum for bootlegs and mashups.
More on Bootie SF - every Saturday @ DNA Lounge

Relevant Tags

A+d (4), A Plus D (3), Rednex (1), Bootie Sf (7), Bootie (5), Shahar Varshal (1), Remix (3), Mashup (7), Mash Up (5), Pitbull Ke$has Timber (1), Garbage (5)