It was a pretty intense experience: Poj Masta Interview Pt 2
And so to the second part of the interview with boy wonder Poj Masta and his classic glitch remix of Beyonce.
6. You did a Superchunk for XFM. How did that come about?
The Remix was a seriously big deal, because they would play quite a few mash ups every week and it was ‘proper’ radio. It was a standard progression – learn how to make mash ups, upload them somewhere, then put them on a CD for Eddy & James. Being a London dweller (and being young enough to get the cheap bus fare), I actually went to XFM’s (Capital FM) offices in Leicester Square and dropped off my CDs. I never bumped in to them that way, but I was always half hoping I would.
You’d then listen intently to the whole show and hope you got a play (if I was out, I’d set up my mini-disc to record it). I remember the first time it happened, I was bouncing off the walls in my house with excitement. It was properly amazing.
Anyway, they seemed to get keener and keener on the bootlegs and glitch things I was sending in. I remember they opened the show once with my glitch remix of Beyonce’s Crazy in Love and from then on they just seemed to play anything I sent them. I don’t think they knew how old I was then but Mark (Go Home Productions) might have told them. Then they had an on air discussion which just seemed to progress to “well, he should do a superchunk!”.
It was a pretty intense experience. I made posters to put up in my Sixth Form Common Room cos I didn’t want people to miss it. My Dad dropped me off at Leicester square, and I got interviewed on air (probably a bit awkward) but it all went well I think. On reflection, I wish the Scummer mix had been my superchunk as it is much better, but never mind.
Get the Scummer mix here.
7. Were you involved with the club Bastard – I have recollection of you getting in under-age? What was it like – I never went.
I had to sneak off there at first, although my parents were seemed pretty happy for me to be go after a while. I didn’t go to loads, but the ones I did make it to were brilliant. Messy but brilliant.
It was my first proper club night experience (I’d been to a few rubbish things before, but nothing worth remembering) but it is still, in my mind, the atmosphere that any club, or party should aim for. It was also one of the early ‘we met on the internet, now we’re meeting properly for the first time’ moments I’d guess. Luckily, everyone was great, the right level of mental and often pushing the limits of Thursday acceptability HARD. Thanks to everyone who bought me drinks back then. Those ‘specials’ really were rocket fuel.
I particularly remember DJing at one right after I’d finished my last school exams. It was absolutely steaming hot in there and rammed. I was meant to play for an hour and a half and Mike wouldn’t let me off the decks for 3 and a half hours until I’d ran out of music. I think my bladder has been permanently enlarged by that experience. One of the things that made it great was the relative height of the stage I think. In a lot of small venues, the decks are tucked away, but in the Asylum, you were on a pedestal which made the whole thing even more ridiculous given the anti-superclub, anti-superstar DJ atmosphere. It felt like a massive juxtaposition in a lot of ways, which I guess suited everything that was played.
8. It all seemed to exciting and vibrant in 2002/03 to hear mash ups. What marked the start of the end?
Well, everything has got a bit easier. You can download key databases, acapellas for days… There was a bit of ‘digital digging’ to do in the past.
I saw a quote recently along the lines of “If you already know what you are creating before you start, you are just assembling and not creating”. That is the issue I think with a lot of modern ‘mash-up artists’ – they know what they are going to make before they’ve started doing it. There was always an element of experimentation, of forcing things a bit which led to people doing interesting things and searching for more unusual matches.
10. Finally, what’s this computer game you’re involved with?
DJ Hero, which was the last time I was seriously making lots of music.
I met Dan (who came up with the idea for the game) at a testing group which Mike (Cartel) had helped set up for a different, defunct project. I dropped off my mixes when I was there on the off chance that something else might come of it.
I later found out that when Dan was pitching the game to the likes of Universal & Activision, he was playing my mixes and saying “it’s gonna sound a bit like this”.
So that piece of luck meant I was in touch with the project for a long time, but because I was still finishing my degree I started off working part time on DJ Hero before coming on full time for DJ Hero II. My main task ended up being ‘idea generator’ – basically making around 15-20 mash ups a day which might become mixes in the final product. I also produced mixes and helped with picking the tracks which we should be including.
It was a great first ‘proper’ job to get straight out of university (I studied the philosophy and history of science). There was a strong GYBO/Bastard contingent working on the game – Don and Josh (Pirate Soundsystem), Jools (MF), Rich (Stinkin Rich was it?!), and Mike in touch with the project too – which was surreal if you thought about the chain of events since those early days.
Unfortunately, DJ Hero is currently in stasis after a couple of releases, but it was great fun while it lasted. Personal highlights for me were making a few of the mixes which convinced Daft Punk to allow us to use their stuff, and hearing – “Stevie likes the mash-up” from Stevie Wonder’s people.
9. What is music’s role for you now?
When I’m not at the (new) day job, I do a bit of freelance production work, and some music consultation (!) – building playlists for shops to play in the background, which is good fun. I also organise the occasional party – Mixed Grill – with a friend from university.
I consider ‘Poj Masta’ to be in some sort of creative hibernation for now. I still DJ from time to time, but I feel a little bit fraudulent because I am not making enough things so end up playing disco and other stuff I like at the moment.
I’m sure I’ll get the creative spark back at some point. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
The picture at the top is the briefly on sale Poj Masta mug from 2003, which has been present for the vast majority of the posts on this blog, containing as it does my morning coffee. And here’s still my favourite Poj tune, the glitch mix of Beyonce’s Crazy In Love.
Free Download: Poj Masta – Crazy In Love