The Michelangelo of Music Mashups: An Interview with Bill McClintock.

The Michelangelo of Music Mashups: An Interview with Bill McClintock.

Bill McClintock is one of the biggest music-mashup artists on the internet. His opus of over 80 unique music-video mix-ups of celebrated musicians has, over the last three years, managed to accrue over 31 million channel views and 145 thousand subscribers on YouTube.

For those of you who haven’t listened to the work contained in this rocking cavern of the internet – you are in for one hell of a ride. You will experience a strange, humorous, musically ambitious, and self-aware world, in which any two (or more) artists can find themselves next to each other. Ever wondered what System of a Down would sound like over a Justin Bieber track? Or how about the vocal of Raining Blood by Slayer, put to the strange psychedelic sounds of the B-52’s Rock Lobster? Well, look no further – McClintock Mashups is here to fulfil your musical fantasies.

McClintock Mashups, Slay 52’s – ‘Raining Lobsters

While this channels contents may, on the surface, seem like something you shouldn’t be taking seriously, think again. Although many online musical-mashups have been created to get a cheap laugh, Bill’s channel has achieved more than this simple feat. Instead, each video has been crafted with the precision of a fine painter, in which each musical note and video edit has been thoughtfully and purposefully placed.

However, this doesn’t mean that one should sit in pensiveness, removed from the humorous components that are imbued within these videos. The comedic timing is flawless. Just look at Marilyn Manson kicking his feet to the tune of All I want for Christmas is You, by Mariah Carey, while screaming the lyrics to The Beautiful People if you don’t believe me. Yet, what has been encompassed within this breadth of work is something more than simply the addition of humour. Many of these songs are songs in of themselves. They have transcended the traditional framework of what could usually be considered a ‘mashup’ and have become distinct entities separated from their original source. This doesn’t mean that each song used is indistinguishable, but rather that they have been crafted so expertly that one cannot help but view each as their own unique concept.

McClintock Mashups, Mariah Manson – ‘All I Want For Christmas is the Beautiful People

The mashup is an artform that has largely gone unrecognized. Like the collage, people often view it as something which is ‘easy’, or at worse a form of ‘theft’, in which the statement: ‘well, anyone could do that’, is often bounded about to contend with their originality. Many are led to believe that appropriating the artistic efforts of others cannot be ‘art’ as the conventional method of creation is amiss. However, this thought process has blind sighted many to the true genius of the mashup artist. For their creations are not in the formulation of sound or video but how they put them back together after tearing them apart.

This work takes a great deal of effort as Bill himself attests. While the ‘actual production of a mashup only takes 5-10 hours, plus a few hours for the video production’, it is the research component of this project that is the most significant sapper of time.

Trying to find two compatible songs takes a really long time. I’ve done eighty or so mashups. You would think that the more you do, the easier it gets. However, I think that it has gotten more difficult – my standards are higher. For example, if a song is 95% compatible, but there is this one thing I don’t like. There’s no way to edit around it, it wouldn’t sound right if I tried changing it, so I have to go to some other combination […] That part of it is so frustrating, its incredibly frustrating. You want to have the match and get into the editing right away, because that’s where its really fun, when you start to put it together and hear what it sounds like – that’s awesome. But it’s like your going fishing, you sit there all day, day after day you get nothing. […] But then once you’ve found that match, and they sound so good together, it makes it worth it, to the point where I want to keep doing it.”

Bill McClintock

McClintock Mashups Logo GIF

McClintock started to receive attention back in 2018 after uploading ‘I Heard it Round and Round the Grapevine’– a mashup of Ratt’sRound and Round’ and Marvin Gaye’sI Heard It Through the Grapevine’. While the channel already contained gems such as Billy Cocaine, How Will I Dance The Night Away, and Stayin’ A Hollaback Girl, it would take this track to capture the imaginations of nearly 2 million people and receive coverage by a variety of online magazines.

While Bill certainly didn’t expect this songs level of success, and the proceeding affect it would have upon his channel, he too could not imagine that he had inadvertently become the father of an entirely new genre – Soul Metal. This phrase would be coined in the comments section of this video and it would stick. Since then, this classification has become a staple on McClintock Mashups and quite rightly a fan favourite, in which Soul artists such as The Temptations, James Brown, and Chic have been combined with the Metal madness of Black Sabbath, Mötley Crüe, and Iron Maiden.

But why has this amalgamation captured the attention of viewers? What is it about Soul Metal that makes it so special? From my perspective these questions can be answered twofold: (1) these genres fit perfectly together both musically and thematically and, (2) it manages to combine the two most powerful elements of each genre – the technical, intricate, and fast paced playing of metal musicians with the energetic, compelling, and emotional soul voice. These mashups create a dynamic audio-visual experience – one in which you cannot help but be swept away in a mess of headbanging and fist-pumping action.

Bill McClintock by Rebekka Katajisto

Like all artists McClintock has been inspired by several of his predecessors and peers. In our interview together he would mention the likes of Wax Audio, DJ Cummerbund, Andy Rehfeldt, and StSanders as significant YouTubers in the music-mashup scene, who had influenced his own mashup style and methodology.

Andy Rehfeldt is another guy I really like. He occasionally does mashups, however he does more of his own overdubs. He’ll take a vocal track and then he records all the instruments himself. He’s a super talented guy. I think he’s mainly a guitar/keyboard player. He’ll come up with whatever style he wants to make it go along with these vocal tracks. It’s hilarious.”

Bill McClintock

However, it is Bill himself that has been inspiring others recently. On July 24th, a cover of his mashup, Living For the Paradise City, was released on behalf of the Help Musicians charity. This project featured 35 professional musicians from around the world, with each contributing their musical talents to raise awareness for musicians who have been struggling financially since the pandemic.

The guy who had the idea to put it together, Leo Thomas who’s in the UK, had the idea to get all of these musicians who are out of work, because of the virus, to make them some money. […] He found the mashup like anyone else would and really liked it. So, he started calling people. He’s a guitarist and that’s how he makes his living, so he knows a tonne of people in music business. He would call up people that were friends of his, singers, guitar players, drummers, bass players, keyboard players, etc. and see if they were interested in doing this project. They would all record their own parts, which would then be mixed together. […] He wanted to talk to me, to see if I could contribute to the recording. At first I was like, ‘I don’t know’, because it’s just the way I am, everything I do is on my own and I’m not usually good at collaborating with people – I don’t know why, its just my personality, the way I am. But I thought about it and I went why not, it should be easy enough to do. So, I recorded one of the guitar parts and sent that off too him and after a few weeks he had it all mastered and ready to go. The finished product turned out really well and I was very impressed by everyone’s abilities – it was a cool thing to come together.”

Bill McClintock

McClintock Mashups & Help Musicians Charity – Living For the Paradise City

In our interview together it was interesting to hear how this project had hit Bill on an emotional level. While he has garnered a relatively large audience on YouTube, he remains to question his talents and whether these mashups can be considered as an artform, rather than a mode of entertainment.

For someone to see my mashup and think ‘this is awesome’ was great. These are musicians, they aren’t just people that know nothing about music, but actual professional musicians who make a living, so their going to have higher standards for what they like and what they would like to be part of. I think that validates what I’m doing more than just about anything. I look to opinions of musicians to see what they think of it: is this something that is really an artform? Is this just a novelty thing? […] To see musicians who really know about music, what goes into it and the work that it takes to produce something like this and for them to really like it and want to be a part of it is a really nice compliment.”

So, what’s next for McClintock Mashups? While new videos are certainly on the cards, only time will tell what other exciting projects or musical genres Bill will think up. Whatever happens next, this is someone you should be paying attention to. The quality of each uploaded video is beyond reproach, with each being as entertaining as the last. All that can be said is Shine on you Crazy Diamond!

About The Author

Gregory Segal

While humanity has has continuously ventured into the unknown, today we are on the precipice of a new uncertainty. With covid, political unrest, and economic decline we feel that another sinister turn is just round the corner. Although discussion, art, and storytelling won't necesserily create any solutions for this in the short-term it might provide a conduit for productive thought, or at the very least might take our minds off our current reality.

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