The Hood Internet Discusses Their Decision To Move Past Mash-Ups.
In 2007, Steve Reidell and Aaron Bink, former members of the Chicago band May Or May Not, took the internet by storm by releasing a rash of clever mash-up creations that blended hip-hop and pop tracks– and not without their tongues firmly planted in cheek. They called themselves The Hood Internet, immediately aligning themselves with their adoration of rap music and technology alike, and their timing could not have been better.
Their arrival came just as mash-up culture was reaching its crest, right in the wake of Dangermouse's renowned 2004 Grey Album, which combined Jay-Z and Beatles tracks, and fellow mash-up maestro Girl Talk's breakout 2006 release, Night Ripper.
Their Hood Internet project, which Reidell swears wasn't nearly as well thought-out as one might assume, understandably took off, and, suddenly, The Hood Internet became an instantly recognizable name in the suddenly blog-driven music world.
As time has passed, though, so too, to a degree, has the mash-up fad. Even Reidell admits, mash-ups have become something of a polarizing topic of late, in large part because of their widespread popularity just a few years ago.
Perhaps that's why the twosome is starting to somewhat distance itself from that genre. Earlier this year, the duo released a self-titled affair for Mishka, compiling all of their recent remix (read: not mashup) efforts in one convenient place.
With The Hood Internet slated to spend the better part of the next few weeks in Denton and Austin for 35 Denton and South by Southwest, respectively, we caught up with Reidell to talk about his band's transition into the future, and to get to the bottom of why the internet now so despises the mash-up genre it once helped popularize.
This is your first time playing the 35 Denton festival. What do you know about it, if anything?
Like anyone, we were contacted by the people making the festival through our booking agency, so I don't know what. But here's what I think about it: I went to their web site and, for each band playing, they've got a short little animated loop, and I just think that's so great.
I figured you'd get a kick out of that since your own site is fairly flashy.
A lot of artists are putting effort into that sort of thing these days as a means to further promote their brand. But that's something you've always done. Is that something you foresaw as happening when you started your site?
I don't know. I don't know that we were doing it with foresight. There was so little thought put into how we would work. We didn't start DJing live until a few months into it when a friend asked us to do this show and we just said, “Sure, why not?” We had no idea what we were doing, but whatever, we were used to playing in bands or whatever. So, eventually, we learned how to do our version of DJing and everything. But there was no real plan for it. No plan for the web site, either. It was 2007. People had already been mash-up tracks like that — pretty much everyone under the sun. But we just stumbled upon a great format. We just figured out, I guess, that that's what people wanted on the internet.
People used to have a hard time embracing live sets that mostly featured a couple of dudes and some computers. It seems like people are a little less critical of live electronic and production-heavy sets now, though. Have you noticed this?
Obviously, there are times when you just see people on stage with a computer and maybe a MIDI controller and a mixer — and there are a lot of artists that just rock it like that, maybe with some CDJs too or whatever — but I think people are caring less about that. People used to get really mad about Serato, but now that's accepted. I mean, some people used to get mad at even just DJing, and obviously there's a massive art to turntablism, and electronic or computer-based DJing doesn't hold a candle to that in my opinion, but it's all the same. People become accepting of that, and what becomes important to them is the music.
Have you had to cater to any of that lack of acceptance in the past?
I don't know that it ever really affected us one way or another. We developed our own way of doing things. Like, on our web site, we make DJ edits with longer intros and outros and loops, but, I mean, it's not like we're pressing 12-inch vinyls of all these tracks we're doing. That wouldn't make sense, I don't think. Beyond people hating on us on the internet, I don't think it ever really affected us.
You've really never thought about pressing your mash-ups to vinyl?
Not really. Most other DJs that I know nowadays, even the really professional motherfuckers, they're on Traktor or Serato or CDJs or some form of technology. You see people with records, and, these days, either times out of ten, they're still a Serato DJ. Unless someone wanted to pay us specifically to do it, I just don't think it would make any money. [Laughs.] We are making LPs of the new record, though. The one coming out later in the year.
What can you tell me about that record?
It's songs that we've produced for ourselves and songs where we've collaborated with rappers and producers and other singers. We've also got the Max B. and Isaiah Toothtaker thing — the story behind that is that Isaiah was recording Max B. over the phone since he's been in prison, and we just received a text that he didn't make parole, but he did his thing with him and we made this little EP with him that's gonna come out on Mishka this May. Then LEP Bogus Boys hit us up. They hit us up with some a capella tracks, so we did all Hood Internet style.
I know that, in the past, before The Hood Internet, you guys did some hip-hop production on the side. Is this a return to those roots?
Well, this is what we started doing when we were in May Or May Not. Dan and I both have backgrounds in sampling and making loops and constructing beats out of that. The Hood Internet, really, was an expansion on that idea. And to team up. And to have a web site. [Laughs.] Like, “Let's be serious. Let's make a web site. Let's make this super real.”
I know you have some other projects coming up, too.
We have another record coming out later this year that isn't remixes at all. It's all shit we've produced.
You've been careful even with your most recent release to call it a remix record and not a mash-up one. Is that representative of a greater sea change with your style?
Yeah, maybe. It seems like a big cause of a lot of internet hate these days is mash-ups, and we're totally cognizant of that. But we're not trying to separate ourselves from it. That's pretty much what people look to us for. We just have a history of making different kinds of music, and we always want to try something different. So we wanted to expand the idea of having The Hood Internet do more production stuff. The reason we've been pointing it out isn't to separate from that idea, but just to say, “Hey, this isn't a mixtape of mash-ups. You might not recognize half of it.”
You're touring with Star Slinger later this year. He's kind of come from that same mash-up background, but I do know he's trying to separate himself from it a little. Is that just a happy accident that you're both in this transitional phase and now you're touring together?
I think there's a similar audience there. Even what he's doing right now, like that recent single he has with Juicy J, that's just a great fucking song. It's his style of music and he's just loving and embracing southern rap, which is something that we definitely have similar to him. I just think it's a good mash-up with him. No, I mean match-up! [Laughs.] Boom. Add a “boing!” sound in there! [Laughs.]
Before I let you go, you mentioned earlier the internet hate of mash-ups, which kind of seems like it's just eating it's young, since the internet helped really popularize them. What do you think it is? Just reaching a saturation point that led to some sort of ridiculous annoyance?
Many things are at a point of ridiculous annoyance these days. [Laughs.] But, whatever, for every time I mention the internet haters, I know there's an equal or larger percent of people out there loving what we do. The internet just hates everything. It's what the internet's for, it seems. YouTube comments are just the worst!
The Hood Internet performs at 12:30 a.m. on Friday night at Hailey's Club in Denton as part of the 35 Denton festival.