08th Apr2009

The Perfect Mix

by Todd

Max Tannone may not be a household name….yet.  But if you like good music, you’ve heard his work.  Max Tannone is the creator of Jaydiohead, the project we like to call “The Greatest Mash-Up of All-Time”.  To take one of the greatest hip-hop artists ever and to mix him with the greatest “alternative” band ever?  Priceless….  Profiled on MTV (?! Since when did they jump on something when it was still “cutting edge”?), Max and Jaydiohead got one of there biggest plugs when Carson Daly actually stopped everything and just played one track for everyone to listen to while he stared into the camera.  A sublime, late night television moment that introduced a larger audience to the perfect mix.

Jaydiohead – 99 Anthems from Max Tannone on Vimeo.

We were able to track the man behind Jaydiohead down at his secret fortress, where he is preparing to unleash yet another great project.  What is it?  We’re not telling!  But trust us when we say it’s going to be amazing.

TDOA: You’ve said that this project started with mixing Pray and I Might Be Wrong, and then developing the Jaydiohead project from there.  What inspired you to mix Jay-Z and Radiohead in the first place?

MT: I always thought “I Might Be Wrong” had such a great beat already, I felt it lent itself for a “rap remix” in a way. I took that loop and beefed it up with additional drums and a subtle synth line for part ofthe verse. I had also just gotten the acapella version of Jay-Z’s American Gangster album, and started messing with pairing different acapellas to the “Wrong Prayer” beat.  Jay-Z’s original “Pray” vocals just fit really well, the content of his words, his delivery, the emotion the instrumental evoked, etc.

Once I found that pairing, I went back and tweaked the beat a little until I was satisfied. So it really happened out of experimentation.  I didn’t go into it with the intention of mixing
Jay-Z and Radiohead. However, once I finished “Wrong Prayer”, I liked it quite a bit, and thought it would be fun to try another mix of the two artists.

Jaydiohead – Wrong Prayer from Max Tannone on Vimeo.

TDOA: These are two very different artists.  Where do your musical tastes lie?

MT: I like a lot of different stuff, I was a hip-hop fan first, then got into rock, and lately I’ve been getting into dance music and dub music.  I actively seek out different and sometimes “weird” stuff for a few different reasons. One, its just interesting, and two, it gives me ideas for my own music. I know there is so much amazing music I haven’t discovered yet, its almost overwhelming…in a good way.

TDOA: Can you tell us about other mash-up projects you’ve done?

MT: This is my first mash-up project. I’ve been making beats for several years, and my interests lie more within doing original music and remixes, but the mash-up subgenre is a lot of fun and I enjoy contributing to it.

The term “mash-up” kind of has a stigma attached, I mean, the term itself infers something created quickly, and lacking any sort of elegance. But for me, I try to make mash-ups that are mistaken for original songs…in other words, I want them to sound natural, not forced. You can mix anything with the same tempo, it doesn’t mean it will sound good. I take a lot of time in adding new sounds, whether its drums, or something melodic, or manipulating the original instrumental or vocal track.

TDOA: As of a January MTV interview, you hadn’t heard from either artist.  Anything since then?

MT: Unfortunately not. Although I did read a news story that said Jay-Z was in the studio with Radiohead…I cannot vouch for the validity of that story. If they do collaborate, I would like to think I had a part in bringing them together. (ED. NOTE: We contacted Radiohead’s management and politely asked for someone who might have known Radiohead at some point in their life to comment.  God forbid we ask Thom.  Our inquiry was met with…..silence)

TDOA: Were there any legal concerns with sampling two artists with pretty strong industry backing?

MT: I really wasn’t concerned. I put out Jaydiohead for free, and it has remained free despite some (people) urging me to sell shirts, posters, etc.  I was against all of that from the start, and still am.  Furthermore, this is free promotion for both Jay-Z and Radiohead, and their respective labels. I wouldn’t be surprised if both camps received a small boost in sales from the popularity of Jaydiohead. I’ve received many messages from fans of Jay-Z or fans of Radiohead thanking me for exposing them to rock or hip-hop, and how they were going to pick up a CD or check out a show.

Its funny too, because I’ve upload Jaydiohead on many different music streaming sites, and someone, a record company or possibly the RIAA, has removed it.  It really is absurd.  I don’t know when the suits will learn that projects like these are only going to help their bottom line.

As far as the actual artists being upset, I know both Jay-Z and Radiohead are smarter than that. Jay-Z releases acappella albums for a reason, and is no stranger to genre-blurring collaborations.  Radiohead’s viewpoint is similar. They released In Rainbows for free on their site, to much fanfare and to the shock of major record labels, and made a great profit. They have also sponsored two remix competitions for their songs Nude and Reckoner, releasing stems (individual parts) of their songs, for people around the world to play with.

Besides being amazing musicians and storytellers, they are businessmen and know how to adapt and take advantage of this increasingly connected world we now live in.

I did received some legal trouble for Jaydiohead, but it was actually due to my name “Minty Fresh Beats.” I received a cease and desist letter from a record company that had already claimed a derivation of my name. After some legal council I decided not to pursue it, and complied with the letter…hence I can no longer use the name “Minty Fresh Beats” … so I’m going with my actual name “Max Tannone”.

TDOA: Talk to us about the technical side of this project, if you don’t mind.  What software did you use on this?  How’d ya do it?

MT: I made Jaydiohead in FL Studio, which is my sequencer. The other piece of software I used was Cool Edit Pro (now Adobe Audition), to edit the audio files. I would cut the instrumental into chunks, and then rebuild the song around Jay-Z’s vocals. Once I had done that, I would add elements to the song, almost always add drums, sometimes melodic elements and FX too, weird noises, etc. I would also chop and time-stretch Jay-Z’s vocals depending on the song.

TDOA: The reaction to Jaydiohead has been massive.  How did you initially get this into the public consciousness?  Did the Carson Daly reference seem to generate a lot more attention?

MT: I posted Jaydiohead on a few Radiohead message boards and emailed a few of my favorite music blogs, and it just spread from there. I think people really connected to it, and its viral spread is a reaction of that. When people discover something they like, they naturally want to share it with their friends, especially if its free. I’m constantly sending my friends stuff I think they will like.

The Carson Daly shout-out was really cool. Thanks to him, again! Its hard for me to gauge how much attention his reference garnered, but it definitely didn’t hurt. I was super excited when I found out about it, my friend DJ Shuv actually saw it when it aired, I couldn’t believe it made it to national television in like a week after I released it.

Jaydiohead on Last Call with Carson Daly (NBC) – 01/07/09 from Max Tannone on Vimeo.

TDOA: I’ve seen a couple of fan-produced videos, but have you had any discussions about doing “legit” videos?  …or is that the line that can’t be crossed legally?

MT: I haven’t had any discussions with Jay-Z or Radiohead…and again like you mentioned I can’t legally profit from Jaydiohead, nor do I want to, so I don’t think you will be seeing it on MTV anytime soon. But, if Hov or Thom is reading this, I’m down! haha…

TDOA: Ultimately, you want this project to create more production opportunities for you.  Have you been approached with anything yet? If not, have you started playing with any new mashups?

MT: A lot of people online have been contacting me, and I have some remixes planned for some friends of mine who are making music. But the coolest thing that came from this is a mash-up project for one of my favorite artists, in support of one of their recent releases…I don’t want to talk about it until the first song comes out, which will be within a week or two…But I’ve really enjoyed working on it and am very grateful for the opportunity I was given.

TDOA: Do you do live DJ sets and if so, can people see you doing the Jaydiohead album?  Can you imagine how amazing that would be at Coachella?

MT: Although I have DJ’d in the past, I haven’t taken it to the level of constructing mashups piece by piece in real-time, although I would like to soon. I’ve just been really focused with making tracks and remixes.  Right now a live show is not a priority. However, you do raise a good point…Coachella would rock.

TDOA: What are you listening to these day?  Fave albums of last year or thusfar in 2009?

MT: I’m heavy into dub music and dance music (more particularly, German techno, some French disco/house), I’m super fascinated by the way both of these genres sound, and the type of characteristics that define them.

As far as favorite albums of the past year, or close to a year… the Santogold album was really good. Beck’s Modern Guilt was dope too.  Other than that I’m really listening to a lot of older music…

Download the entire Jaydiohead album at Jaydiohead.com.  You can keep track of Max Tannone via his MySpace page at:
www.myspace.com/mintyfreshmusic

5 Responses to “The Perfect Mix”

  • Brilliant mix, talented lad
    Cant wait to listen to his new upcoming work
    Jay-Z and Radiohead … great combo in the hands of Max Tannone

  • sonychap21

    cool interview…jaydiohead is great…people shouldn’t write it off based on the fact that its a “mash-up”…it sounds like they were in the studio together making this

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