A few weeks ago, the Internet found its new hero in Bill McClintock when this video mashup hit the web…
Since then, Bill McClintock’s YouTube channel has blown up with the RATT/Gaye mashup leading the way, crossing 500,000 views. He resides in the Pittsburgh area, cranking out mashups that have received universal praise here, here, here, and here… but not only for their musical construction, but for creativity as well.
Tony Ricciardi: How did you figure out that Ratt and Marvin Gaye worked?
Bill McClintock: I’m a big fan of 80s rock music and I wanted to find an all instrumental version of a well-known song to mash with vocals of a contrasting style. “Round and Round” by RATT has always been one of my favorites, so I started looking for vocals that are in the same key and approximately the same tempo. Honestly, I don’t know why “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye popped in my head. I started singing Marvin Gaye’s vocals over “Round and Round” and was astounded by how well they worked together. Not only did the keys and tempos match up, but many of rhythms of the vocal part matched perfectly with the rhythms of the instrumental part. An example of this is the vocal line “It took me by surprise I must say…” My favorite part has to be at 2:42 on the lyric “But I can’t hide…” and the way it fits RIDICULOUSLY well with the drum fill.
TR: How did you get started doing these mashups? Is this an offshoot from your day job? A hobby?
BM: I started doing mashups as a hobby after I heard (and was blown away by) the Crazy Train/September mashup by DJ Cummerbund. I was so intrigued by the way that two songs could be combined to create something that seemed entirely new.
Making music mashups came somewhat easily to me, as I have a background in music theory from majoring in music technology and music education at Duquesne University. I was able to find songs that could work together based on key and tempo.
For my day job, I teach elementary and middle school music. My middle school students have enjoyed watching some of my mashups!
TR: Do your elementary/middle school students have any idea who some of these artists are that you are mashing up? Is it a lot of, “Oh, my parents listen to that!”
BM: A handful of my students recognize the music. Most of the music that I use for my mashups is 70s and 80s, and a lot of my students haven’t been exposed to that music aside from what they hear in my class. Hopefully I can turn some of them on to the classics!
TR: Do you have any special connections for finding vocal-only or instrumental-only tracks, or is there some digital manipulation to get what you want from those songs you mashup?
BM: All of the vocal-only or instrumental-only tracks I use are on YouTube. There are ways to manipulate a stereo recording to either isolate or eliminate the vocals, but the result is usually low quality. I don’t know how they get on YouTube in the first place, but there are a lot of studio master tracks with the vocals or instrumentals perfectly isolated. Those are the ones that I use in my mashups.
TR: How long does it take on average to complete one?
BM: Once I have an idea, mixing the audio probably takes on average about five to ten hours. The video part takes about two or three hours. The most time-consuming part is coming up with a really good match. That can take days, if not weeks.
TR: What is your favorite mashup that you have done so far?
BM: My favorite mashup would have to be the Gwen Stefani and Bee Gees one. I just really love the way the chorus matches with the guitar riff. The verses also sound really cool with the harmonic context in the instrumental.
TR: Is there a dream mashup you have in mind, but can’t do because the material isn’t available?
BM: I would love to do a mash up with Aretha Franklin in a metal song. Unfortunately, I can’t find any a capella versions of her songs.
TR: Anything in the pipeline to make its debut soon?
BM: I’m hoping to stick with this “soul metal” theme. I’ve tried putting a few things together that were just okay, but not great. The bar is set pretty high now so I’m hoping to deliver something good! Stay tuned…