Interview conducted by Hatchet reporter Zinhle Essamuah.
Known for his annual mashup of the year’s pop hits, DJ Earworm came to GW to open for this year’s Fall Fest before electronic pop duo TimeFlies.
The Hatchet talked to DJ Earworm over the phone on Aug. 30 about his performance at Fall Fest and new music he’s working on. The interview has been edited for length.
HATCHET: Thank you for speaking with me. We are very excited to jam out with you this Saturday. Let’s jump right into it….Recently your music has been rapidly gaining prominence – what do you attribute that to?
DJ EARWORM: It’s a few things. I think, overall, the mashup, the form of the mashup, has more recognition than it used to and I think I made this a style of mashup that wasn’t as common back when it started. And, you know, a lot of early buzz – Facebook and Twitter came along and just kind of blew it up.
HATCHET: What is your personal favorite performance that you delivered this year?
DJ EARWORM: I just played at Soldier Field in Chicago, which is very exciting. Yeah, it was a great concert – a nice show.
HATCHET: Where do you get your musical inspiration from?
DJ EARWORM: Oh, everywhere! I try and listen to every kind of music that comes out so that I kind of know where the pulse is…what people are liking, how things are changing. I listen to tons of different music. I probably don’t listen to enough music on repeat because I just want to…I always wonder what else is there what else is there.
HATCHET: You’ve been compared to Girl Talk before. While Girl Talk’s mashups are a blend of modern and older music you focus almost entirely on modern music…why is this?
DJ EARWORM: A lot of it is the United States of Pop think, which I kind of started and it just took off. So, I kept on doing that and I then got a lot of people asking me to make certain mashups for different reasons and it just sort of took off. I’m definitely not abandoning my old stuff and I do still have mashups that combine old and new, but they’re not nearly as popular. So, what people know me for is United States of Pop even though I’ve got all sorts of stuff. I love current music, I love to keep stuff super fresh.
HATCHET: You said you don’t want to abandon your old stuff, what’s some stuff that you wish would ‘blow up’?
DJ EARWORM: I did some stuff for the Olympics last year that a lot of people were like, ‘what what is that? That’s not what I expected from you!’
HATCHET: Some artists create music for social change, some artists create mashups to get people moving. What’s your goal when creating a piece?
DJ EARWORM: You know, it really varies. Definitely there’s the aspect of social change. At the same time, I don’t mind a song providing escapism as well. Overall, there’s an element of social change just in that I’m using music in this new way that’s sort of challenging the system by appropriating all these elements freely.
HATCHET: Loved your summer mashup! I noticed that Miley Cyrus and Mariah Carey, whose singles (“We Can’t Stop” and “Beautiful,” respectively), have been quite popular this summer were missing from the mix…how do you go about selecting songs?
DJ EARWORM: I considered Miley Cyrus. She was on my short list…It was way to slow and way in the wrong key. Because I was free to use my own judgement as to what songs to include and exclude, I didn’t force songs into a key or tempo. With United States of Pop, it’s like, well, these songs I’ll have to get in there so I’ll have to do some crazy stretching, where if I can choose my songs it can breathe a little bit more because they’re in more of a natural setting. If I had put her in there it would’ve been a great strain. But you will hear her by the end of the year, probably in the United States of Pop! I can’t imagine it won’t make it.
HATCHET: What can we expect of your next mashup?
DJ EARWORM: I’m working on one or two before the end of the year. I’m not sure what….I’m working of United States of Pop already. I should be releasing some stuff before [that].
HATCHET: You wrote a manual about how to create mashups, can we expect any more written pieces from you?
DJ EARWORM: That book was so hard to write. I was at a different point in my life and career when I wrote that and I had the time. It was very big sacrifice which I was able to make at the time. Right now I would have to put too many things aside to make something like that happen. And with sales numbers the way they are I’m not sure I could justify it. People bought the book but it did not make a best seller.
HATCHET: Do you perform on college campuses a lot?
DJ EARWORM: Yeah, I do maybe a bunch of shows every year. Not every weekend but I really enjoy it a lot. I’ve got like four gigs…
HATCHET: What do you expect the GW crowd to be like at Fall Fest this year?
DJ EARWORM: Oh, I heard they’re a lot of fun. *laughs* That’s the rumor. And I expect that there should be a lot of energy there. It should be a big party.
HATCHET: Have you been to GW before? Or D.C. before?
DJ EARWORM: I’ve been to D.C. before but never the University, I’m looking forward to it.