William Maranci, a producer making mashups the new vaporwave
(Credit: William Maranci)

Far Out Meets: Sonic madman William Maranci, the producer intent on making mashups the new vaporwave

Self-described Dunkin’ Coffee-fueled madman, William Maranci, has been doing little more with his time than reviving mashups mainstream status one hit at a time.

From Slipknot instrumentals to Pokemon’s theme song and Justin Timberlake’s vocals, there are relatable pop culture references for everyone who grew up in the ’90s and ’00s in Maranci’s mashups. Perfectly anonymous before deciding to become the most prolific mashup producer in the game, he has not only regained the interest of the MTV Mash generation but also attracted a whole new wave of fans via YouTube and Bandcamp.

Mashups have, regardless of their occasional peak in popularity, always been perceived as quirky, discardable and insubstantial. Although a niche, there are a few artists that have managed to retain somewhat long careers on mashups such as The Kleptones, Max Tannone, and Neil Cicierega. Unlike these artists, Maranci’s work does not come across as an overly-laborious endeavour and it’s precisely in its rough edges that lies its appeal, much like the poorly photoshopped memes he loves.

Plunderphonics, the art of taking one or more existing audio recordings and altering them in one way or another to create something new, is not a new phenomenon. The easiness of creation, popular appeal, and chameleonic nature of mashups and memes, however, make the internet the perfect setting for it to flourish. I arranged a call with William to know more about himself, his process and opinion on mashup culture as well as ask what the chances are of mashups becoming the new vaporwave.

Far Out: You’re known as Dumphop, CoffeeDude, Funnels, and Alice in 2 Chainz. What differentiates the music of these different alter-egos?

William Maranci: “Dumphop was the name I used initially when I was a rapper. CoffeeDude was a name I used for only two projects because I was briefly doing coffee reviews. Alice in 2 Chainz is a name that I’ll probably use for a more comedic album. Funnels is the name I use for some of my instrumental albums.

“To be honest, sometimes I just change the name I release albums under for fun—not really for any specific reason.”

How is your music any different from other well-known names in the mashup world like Girl Talk and Neil Cicieraga?

“Girl Talk makes mashups that I see as hitting you with a lot of things at once. His work is beautifully disorienting. Neil Cicierega wasn’t the first mashup artist in existence, but I think he helped redefine what a mashup album could be in terms of the experience and flow from track to track.

“What I believe makes my mashups different from those two is that Neil uses mostly older songs for a nostalgic and timeless effect, and Girl Talk is very in tune with contemporaneous trends in hip hop. I try to make mashups that are a tad more anachronistic than both of them. Sometimes I’ll try and make a faithful mashup that enhances both songs, and sometimes I’ll try to make something that borders on repulsive and weird.”

Can you tell us when and how you got to do your first mashup?

“My first mashup was of Queens of the Stone Age, Blur, Nirvana, Limp Bizkit, and Weezer. I love listening for similarities between different songs and the way that you can change the tone and mood of a vocal track by changing the respective instrumental.

“Though for that first mashup I just wanted to see how many songs in F minor I could throw together. It was fun to make but the mixing and mastering were dreadful. I’m still working on my production game but I’ve definitely come a long way from making that first mashup.”

Can you quickly run through the process of working on a mashup without giving too much away?

“For the melodic mashups I make, I look at databases of songs in certain keys and try to weave them together mentally. I also make sure that the mashup I’m about to make hasn’t been done before or if it has, I try to put my own spin on it. If a song in question was made before the ’80s I don’t try to look up the tempo and I have to quantize the part from that song a ton more.

“Quantizing can be a nightmare. I use Logic Pro X which is pretty user-friendly regarding quantizing, and for any notes that don’t quite fit, I use Melodyne to correct them. I also mix and master my mashups in Logic, two processes which can be a real pain. I usually achieve the most success when I listen to both headphones and various speakers in my house.”

You have a total of 63 albums on your Bandcamp and, on top of that, you review other people’s mashups on Patreon. How do you find the time to do all this and why haven’t you lost your mind yet?

“Yet is the keyword. I totally think that I could drive myself totally nuts. YouTube and the music industry as a whole can be really cutthroat. I also only have a part-time job. I finished college last year and have been living with my parents and mostly making music/mashups during this transitional period.

“If I could make 10 mashups a day and upload them all I would, but I don’t want to anger my subscribers on YouTube so I sometimes will just hop on a train or bus to Boston to take breaks and to stop myself from uploading more mashups.”

Was there a specific song you worked on that made you realise you were onto something that could go beyond a hobby?

“The first mashup I made that blew myself away was actually made earlier this year. The Great Patrician Mashup Album may not have been the most cohesive project I’ve made but it made me realise how much hard work pays off. I still watch and listen to that project in its entirety and am amazed that I made a 30+ minute music video to accompany it (here). Before that, I rushed a lot of my mashups, I didn’t make enough music videos for them, and by the end of 2018, I felt like I was done for unless I made something extremely ambitious. That project made me realise that the sky was the limit for me.

“This year, in general, has been the best year of my life and the work I’ve put in has finally been paying off. Also, I’m the main admin of >implying music is good, a music meme page on Facebook. Videos were always kind of difficult to get off the ground, but once I started marketing the videos more and putting more effort into them, they’ve become the top posts of all time on the page. I also initially had virtually no success on the r/mashups subreddit, but more and more I’ve outdone myself and now one of my mashups is in the all-time top 10 on that subreddit. I’ve been seeing success in general now that I never thought was possible, and The Great Patrician Mashup Album was the turning point for me.

If you were to have one of your mashups played at your wedding, which one would that be? What about your funeral?

“For my wedding, I’d love the September (Earth, Wind & Fire)-Walk (Foo Fighters) mashup to be played. At my funeral, maybe the Celine Dion-Linkin Park mashup I made a few weeks ago.”

Are there any mashup producers that you look up to? If so, can you recommend some songs that should belong to the mashups canon?

“I look up to Girl Talk and Neil Cicieraga, who you mentioned earlier. My current favourite mashup artist is probably DJ Cummerbund (Earth, Wind & Ozzys is an all-time classic). One of my favourite mashup albums is Sh*t Computer by Kids & Explosions that I found out about through an old review from Anthony Fantano (The Needle Drop).

“Though the thing with a lot of my favourite mashups on YouTube is that there are quite a few channels that make them that haven’t uploaded in a while or only have one upload such as Ian Decker’s Neutral Slam Hotel and that Clams Casino-Death Grips mashup that k0nfuciu5 made.”

How often do you go through negative comments from prepubescents fanboys on your videos? Have you ever received hate mail?

“I receive plenty of negative feedback, but initially, it was even worse. People on r/mashups saying “this doesn’t work at all,” people at my college saying my production skills were terrible, and some of my friends saying that I was a talentless musician. I had few friends in high school and didn’t have a consistent number of friends in college. I went to Berklee College of Music, was not accepted into the Electronic Production and Design Major, and had numerous professors with no faith in me. But I pushed myself, and there are quite a few people who are changing their tune around me.”

If I’m being honest, I cyber-stalked you. I know you play the drums. Do you produce your own music outside mashups? If so, is there something you’d like to share?

“I play the drums in a metalcore band called Inconvenience Store, in a collective called Soular Eclipse and another band called Birds of War. I’m working on a DJ Shadow/The Avalanches-style experimental plunderphonics project that I released at midnight on January 1st.

“It will probably weird my subscribers out but I want to make music that I want to make.”

What do you listen to when not thinking about unlikely songs to be mashed-up?

“I listen to a ton of indie pop-rock. My favourite bands and artists are Belle & Sebastian, The Magnetic Fields, Sufjan Stevens, The Flaming Lips, Beck, Stereolab, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Super Furry Animals, and Teenage Fanclub, to name a few.”

In what way do you see your mashups relating to meme culture and why does it matter?

“As long as there is music, there will be mashups. More and more mashups have been finding their way into meme culture such as the Brodyquest-Soulja Boy mashup and Thomas the Tank Engine mashups.

“There are so many hilarious mashups with accompanying videos that have taken over the internet. Mostly I attribute that to memes being the future and present of music promotion.”

What are the chances of you being at the helm of what is to become the vaporwave for Generation Z? If high, how can we stop you?

“If my channel keeps growing at the rate it’s been growing at, it’s entirely possible I could be at the helm of it, though I hope my music is less ephemeral than vaporwave. If you want to stop me, flag all of my videos for copyright and sue me. I’ll claim fair use in court, but we’d have to see how that goes.”

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