By Anna Pulley
By Erin Sherbert
By Chris Roberts
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By Rachel Swan
By Joe Eskenazi
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Late 2006 and it's a mashed-up world.
Please don't say you thought the mash-up was dead. Look around with a certain po-mo perspective and you'll realize that things are getting more blended, remixed, and remastered by the minute. Indian pizza, socialist Venezuelans, an energy drink aping a class-A narcotic, Labradoodles. Lines are blurring, distances are shrinking, and soon enough everything will be something else. It's evolution, baby, and it's got a soundtrack all its own. "The best thing about mash-ups is, we're in this technological age where you get twice as much music in half as much time," says Deidre Roberts, aka Mysterious D. "The A.D.D. Generation hello! Technology, art, even races are morphing together, and, ultimately, where is this melting pot gonna go?"
That is the question, and the answer is, for now, San Francisco's DNA Lounge the second Saturday of every month. That's where D, ebullient and violet-haired, and her red-dreaded, eye-shadowed husband Adrian host Bootie, America's original mash-up party. They proudly state that the crowd a swirling mix of hipsters and goths, ravers and rockers is just as mashed-up as the music. But nobody embodies the new, new mash-up paradigm like these two.
Sitting in the Lush Lounge in the heart of the Tenderloin, both sipping blueberry martinis, the pair finish each other's sentences and move from one idea to the next like a DJ would spin a set.
"I like this bar because it's got this weird, interesting mix of regulars and freaks," Adrian says.
"It's just like San Francisco in general," D says. "We have tranny hookers outside our apartment, right next door to R Bar, the yuppiest bar in the city."
A.D.D. Generation? More like Generation Mash-up.
"Three years ago when we started this," Adrian says, "mash-ups were the hot new thing."
"And then they were dead and over with," D says.
"And then they came back around. But even our friends would be like, 'You're still playing mash-ups? That's so tired!' I think once the novelty wore off, people started to realize ... "
"That they could actually listen to it whether they enjoyed the idea or not."
"Now we're at the point, especially in San Francisco, but the West Coast in general, where people are like, 'Oh, I guess this is not going away.'"
Not only is it not going away, but the concept is changing, being perfected, and Adrian and Deidre or A Plus D as they're collectively known know exactly where they want it to go.
"The best mash-ups are the ones that are extreme genre clashes or that make some sort of cultural statement," Adrian says. (He later offers, as example, the Yes vs. Sir Mixalot track "Owner of a Lonely Butt" by England's Lionel Vinyl, and Scottish mash-up artist McSleazy's "Smells Like Billie Jean," which you can probably deconstruct yourself.) "If you take a contemporary pop song and put it over another contemporary pop song, it might be mashed-up, but what's the point?"
D counters: "The best mash-ups aren't always the ones that are a huge clash in styles, but the cream of the crop are the ones that take two disparate songs and combine them to make one better than the sum of its parts."
This attitude of better living through audio chemistry, this living life in meta, is what's propelled A Plus D to the top of the mash-up game. Bootie began in August 2003 as a modest Wednesday night in a cramped SOMA bar and is now seeing crowds of more than a thousand flock to DNA Lounge for each monthly installment. A Plus D have toured all over America and brought Bootie to Europe, and are hatching plans for club nights in New York, San Diego, and Paris. But even more important than fame or financial success and something intrinsic, Adrian says, to the aesthetic of the mash-up in general is free access to the music and the culture that surrounds it.
"It's a global community but the scene is still small. There's probably less than 100 people out there making really good mash-ups, so most of the people we're working with are all connected through the Internet," Deirdre says.
"The mash-up scene would not happen without the Internet," adds Adrian.
They call it digital crate digging, the process of sifting through the hundreds of online mash-ups to find the best to play at their club. They cite fellow S.F. natives Party Ben and Earworm as cohorts who churn out top-notch mashes (or bootlegs, as they're called in the U.K., the name sampled and respun to inspire Bootie, the party). Ben's more rock 'n' roll, Earworm's more complex, often distilling four, five, or six songs into one. They collate that month's favorites and pass out free, 10-song CDs at [each?] episode of Bootie.
"The CDs are not legal to put out," Deidre says, mentioning specifically the compilation The Best Mash-ups in the World Come From San Francisco II. "But we've been selling that one all over the world. It's made it as far as Japan."
"This isn't about making money," Adrian says. "This is about big-upping the San Francisco scene."