When I hear anyone talking about “the power of social media”, my brain immediately flips to thoughts of self-appointed gurus with uber-douche titles like “Twitter Ninja” or “Friendster Rockstar”. I can’t help it. It’s pretty much pavlovian at this point.
In this case, it really is a story of the power of social media — or really, how the Internet, a Twitter account, and a whole lot of skill and luck has earned one guy his big shot with one of the biggest artists in the world.
This past weekend, the hugely-popular electronica artist deadmau5 (pronounced “dead mouse”, not “dead-mow-5″) started working on a new track called “The Veldt”, inspired by Ray Bradbury’s 1950s short story of the same name.
Rather than locking himself away from the world for days to return with a new track in hand, however, deadmau5 introduced a bit of a twist to his workflow: he’d stream it all live. Every glorious minute of the process, from the sampling of the audio (including using the sound of him clapping on his own bare bum as one of the tracks) to the surprise attacks by his cat Professor Meowington (a cat with more Facebook fans than most bands), would be streamed to anyone who cared to watch.
As the track came together, deadmau5 mentioned that he’d need to start figuring out what to do for the vocal track soon — and that’s when things started to get really, really cool.
Having been watching the stream throughout and wishing he could be a part of it, up-and-coming house producer Chris James took the mention of vocals as a challenge. After tying together bits and pieces from the stream with working samples that had been released throughout the weekend, James came up with lyrics (also inspired by the short story) and began laying his tracks on top of deadmau5′ work.
He finished up, exported, and, on a whim, sent it off to deadmau5 via Twitter:
— Chris James (@ChrisJOffical) March 18, 2012
and… nothing happened.
At least at first. Assuming that it was more of the same junk that people cold called him with all the time, deadmau5 mentioned the tweet but didn’t click through. After some assurance from the fans watching back at home that he should give it a listen, he loaded it up. The next tweet he sent:
@ChrisJOffical DUDE… YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???? god DAMN!
— deadmau5 (@deadmau5) March 18, 2012
deadmau5 moved to make Chris’ vocals a part of the official track almost immediately, pausing only to listen to Chris’ vocalized mix a few more times.
Within minutes, he had Chris on the phone. Within hours, deadmau5 had pulled his manager and Chris together on speakerphone — while still live on the stream — to work out the finer details (“I need a second verse; also, can you do 3 stereo stems, with effects on a separate track?”).
One viewer managed to capture the big moment of discovery (Heads up for the folks at work: there’s swearin’ aplenty in here):
For the curious, a number of fans have ripped unfinished renditions of the The Veldt from the stream (complete with Chris’ vocal track beginning around 2 and a half minutes in) and put them up on Youtube, albeit with all the background noise and limited fidelity inherent to ripping audio from a live stream:
Regardless of how you feel about electronic music or even this specific song, you’ve gotta admit: how this all went down is fairly incredible. Armed with nothing but a fistful of talent and a Twitter account, a mostly-unheard-of artist has managed to get his work incorporated into a track by a Grammy-nominated king of his industry. The Internet is wonderful.
[Thanks for the heads up on all of this, Thomas!]