A great place for like-minded people: solcofn interview
As this series starts to draw to a close, I’ve deliberately widened things out to get people with different perspectives, including mash ups in the US. Here’s Phil Russel (Solcofn) from the USA. I do love the way upbeat way he talks about heart surgery with an enthusiam that the dour Brit in me finds disconcerting.
1. How the devil are you and what’s the weather like in DC?
I am doing well, thanks for asking. I got married last November, which was awesome! Then, in May, I had to have heart bypass surgery because my right coronary artery had a tear in it. All in all the last year has been pretty wild. I am very happy to be here right now!
The weather here in Northern Virginia was pretty hot, but the past week or so has cooled down big time (46 degrees Fahrenheit this morning!).
2. How did an American get involved with a mash up scene that was so strongly UK/European in origin?
When I started getting into DJ’ing in late 1999-2000, I would look all over for white label bootleg releases. Once Napster and Audio Galaxy came out I could find more and more of them with less work. One day I was on Google looking for the white label of Music Sounds Better With Tracey In My Room and I ended up on GYBO. I was thrilled to see so many other people that were into bootlegs. I lurked for almost 2 years before I started posting.
3. What was GYBO’s role for you?
It took me a while to get over how many cool people were on GYBO. I started spending a lot of time there and then in 2004 I made my first few mash ups. GYBO was (and still is) a great place for like minded people to chat and share ideas and help each other hone their craft. I even got a magazine article about myself and my music (my 15 minutes of fame) in a DC magazine because one of their reporters lurked on GYBO and saw I was local. I have made some life long friends through GYBO and have had several great job opportunities because of people I have know on GYBO. I was lucky enough to work on a radio show and contribute ideas to DJ Hero because of GYBO. Good times.
4. Did you ever come over for club Bastard and what did you make of it?
I was never able to make it over to attend a Bastard but I have seen many videos. Too me, it is similar to playing at Bootie (which I have done in Boston many times) except that instead of playing for random people…you are playing to a room full of people who know all these mash ups and bootlegs and everyone is trying to one up each other. There have been some truly great moments in GYBO history that were made at Bastard. “Weiser is a
Cunt Kitten” and Dsico’s insanely awesome version of “I will always love you” just to name a few.
5. Tell us about Flounders mash ups?
I had been on GYBO for a while and one day I left work to go to lunch and I heard a advert for the first show of FLOUNDER”S MASH UPS on DC101. I was shocked that something I had been doing for a while (with, as you said, mostly Brits) was happening in Washington D.C.. I called up the station and after a LOT of phone calls, I finally got through to Flounder (who was a sidekick on the morning show) and asked if I could come in and help with the show. After a lot of pestering I was able to get him to let me come. The following Saturday I came in and brought almost 6 gigs of mash ups. He looked at me, laughed, said “Wow!” and then asked me to come in the next weekend. I was there for about a year helping him behind the scenes (for free) before I was hired by the station. I then not only became the producer of the show but the co-host as well. I ended up working there for 4 years (the show was on for another 4 without me). We did lots of events (Halloween, St Patrick’s Day) around DC but one of the coolest things ever got to do was introduce Smash Up Derby (whom DC101 had flew out to DC from Bootie, San Francisco) in front of 30-40,000 people.
6. You moved into making originals, mainly ambient. Is that now your main musical focus and what is coming up?
I still do a few holiday bootlegs with the usual suspects but I am down to only a few normal mash ups a year. Between being newly married, having more responsibility at work and just getting older, I don’t have as much time as I used to. So yes, I am also focusing more on my original stuff. I released an album of originals on my site in 2005 (that was well received) and I hope to release (on bandcamp) a new album sometime in the next 6 months. I am also working on one or two remixes that (knock on wood) should be getting proper releases soon. I am also hopeful that I can parlay those remixes into some soundtrack work, either film, tv or video games…but that is just wishful thinking at the moment.
Here’s a 2004 mash up for you to download: I Feel New Orleans – REM v Kaskade
But, in reality, his mixes were his forte. And this ambient mix is an old favourite: