For festival EDM, this is the summer of the mosquito with a bullhorn. Track after track has been built upon the same trope: A nagging, monotone riff that sounds like a malfunctioning defibrillator hooked up to an air-raid siren. Now the Swedish DJ duo Daleri has struck back with "Epic Mashleg," a mini-megamix that pokes fun at the phenomenon. Sourced from Beatport's top 100 charts in electro house and progressive house, the mix cobbles together one-bar phrases from 15 current tracks that all employ the same percussive, syncopated lead.
Singling out tunes from artists Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Krewella, and W&W, and from Tiësto's Musical Freedom label and Afrojack's Wall Recordings, it is, in essence, a supersaw supercut, and its brilliance lies in its simplicity. If you weren't familiar with the source material, you could easily be led to believe that it was all just one song, a Baroque-inspired set of variations upon one incredibly annoying theme. Judging by the minimix's viral success, Daleri's Eric Kvarnström and Rob Kanat aren't the only electronic-music fans fed up with the current state of affairs: "Epic Mashleg" has been played more than 150,000 times in the two weeks since they posted it to SoundCloud, and even Kaskade registered his approval, tweeting, "It had to be done."
What might be most interesting about the stunt, however, is that these two aren't underground flame-keepers looking down their noses at mainstream EDM. They come from within the system, for all intents and purposes. Their most recent track is a remix for Ultra's dance-pop duo Rebecca & Fiona, and they have multiple releases on Trice, an avowedly "big-room" label distributed by Armin van Buuren's Armada Music. (One of the songs in their mashleg, Klauss Goulart and Mark Sixma's "Rio," even comes from Armind, another Armada-distributed label.)
SPIN spoke to the surprisingly soft-spoken duo to find out what's rotten in the state of big-room EDM, whether their prank has made them any enemies, and why they gave Knife Party's "LRAD" a pass. Listen to "Epic Mashleg" below, and read on for the interview.
At what point did you become aware that so many tracks were using the same theme, and what inspired you to string them all together?
Eric Kvarnström: We had been talking about this for weeks. Sometimes, if you are out of ideas, you go to Beatport and listen to songs. And we thought, "They all sound the same!"
Rob Kanat: When I was listening to the tracks from Beatport, I was very confused, because I couldn't distinguish some tracks from another. Then we came up with the idea to put all the songs in a mash, just short clips of the songs.
Eric: The first idea was actually to make something serious out of all this. We said, "Okay, can we do a mash to play ourselves, in clubs?" But when we were halfway in the mix, we felt, this is more like a joke. We can't play this. So it was more like, let's finish it and let's put it on SoundCloud for our friends.
Did all the songs come from the Beatport top 100?
Rob: All the tracks are from the top electro house charts and the progressive house charts.
Are any of these tracks or artists that you normally play in your own sets?
Eric: Some of them. Not all of them. But we really like some of the producers. We love them. It wasn't meant to hurt anyone, it was just something we made for fun. We love a lot of the producers, and they are working really hard, and I hope they understand as well.
Have you had any negative reactions from producers you included?
Eric: One or two, but it's mostly positive reactions. I saw a Twitter from Like Mike that said, "Oh, these guys just want attention." So I tweeted him back and said that this was just for fun, we didn't do it to hurt you, but it's stupid not to put your songs in the description when we got this much attention.
Rob: I think that many people think like us. They very much want something new in the house scene. I think they're tired of this music.
How exactly did you put it together? Did you do any editing to the elements?
Rob: All we did was some pitch correction…
Eric: Copy and paste.
Rob: We made it in like 15 minutes.
Klauss Goulart's "Rio" is on Armind/Armada, and you guys have something on an Armada-distributed label.
Eric: Yeah, exactly. The label is called Trice.
How did Armada feel about your stunt?
Eric: We haven't heard anything from Armada, just from Trice, and they love it. They're just laughing.
How much of this was a sneaky way of promoting your new Rebecca & Fiona remix?
Eric: We actually had no idea that "Epic Mashleg" would be so big. But when you get so much attention, it's stupid to not do it. Like I said, the idea wasn't to — we didn't know it would be this big. But it's always good if you can get attention and get something out of it.
You mentioned on Twitter that you didn't put Knife Party's "LRAD" in there "for a reason." What reason was that?
Rob: We have too much respect for them. [Laughs]
Eric: They have so many good songs. And we really love them. We really love them.
Rob: I think "LRAD" is a banger, it is like the other songs in some way, but they have their own touch in it.
Eric: And we also play that song, so…
Rob: I think you can really hear that it's their song, because…
Eric: There's something special in it.
Rob: By doing this thing, we mean to say that you can make this music if you want to, and if you like it, but you must have your own touch in it.
Quite a few commenters on your SoundCloud and Facebook are criticizing you guys for employing certain big-room formulas yourselves.
Eric: I haven't seen them with my own eyes, I've seen like two negative comments. So I don't really know. But I think our music is more like complextro, and a lot of things are going on in the drops, which I think is different from the songs we put in the mashleg.
Do you think it would be possible for someone to take a one-bar snippet of your music, one bar apiece from other complextro artists, and do a similar sort of thing?
Rob: I think it's possible, but I don't think it's that easy.
Eric: The scary thing is that there are new tracks like this every day. Every day, new tracks, all the same. It just keeps coming all the time. We hope this mashup can get producers to try something new as well.
People often complain about the Beatport charts sounding all the same; do you shop anywhere else?
Eric: We get a lot of promos. Promos and from Beatport. That's it. I think Beatport needs to make a new genre, like the big-room house genre. Because now you have electro house and progressive house, and you don't really know where to put the songs. You can put the similar tracks as we have in the mashleg in electro house, but you can also find them in progressive house. I think they should make a new genre, like, big-room house or something like that.
As far as your own music goes, your latest production is the Rebecca & Fiona remix?
Eric: Yeah, exactly, that's the latest release that we have. We are working a lot in the studio right now and have some really, really cool stuff coming up. It's really hard to explain the style, but it's complextro, big-room, happy, summer-feeling.
Rob: If we release something, it will possibly be in the electro-house chart, because that's what our music is.
Where in Sweden are you based?
Eric: Stockholm. We moved from a little place called Örebrou, where we were born.
Is there a big scene for the music you play in Stockholm?
Eric: No, it's not. It's more like really commercial stuff here in the clubs. It's hard to get gigs here in Sweden. I think our music is more for the international scene, like Ibiza, England, the bigger house scene.
Final question: Did you buy all the tracks or just use a streamripper to sample them?
Eric: Yeah, we bought them.
Rob: [Laughing] Support!
"Epic Mashleg" track list:
1. Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, "Wakanda" (Axtone)
2. Alvaro & Moti, "NaNaNa" (Hysteria)
3. Pyero, "Genesis" (Scream and Shout)
4. Chuckie, Dzeko & Torres, "Down to This" (Big Beat)
5. Makj, "Springen" (Hysteria)
6. Sini, "Razz Up" (Sinitation)
7. Pelari, "Cango" (Musical Freedom)
8. Krewella, "Alive (Hardwell Remix)" (Columbia)
9. Shermanology, "The Only Way" (Wall Recordings)
10. W&W, "Thunder" (Wall Recordings)
11. Gta, Henrix & Digital Lab, "Hit It!" (Size)
12. Sultan, Ned Shepard & Fedde Le Grand, "No Good (Extended Mix)" (Spinnin)
13. Henrix, Wayne & Woods, "Jumangee" (Size)
14. Alvaro & Mercer feat. Lil Jon, "Welcome to the Jungle" (Revealed)
15. Klauss Goulart & Mark Sixma, "Rio" (Armind)
16. Dimitri Vegas, Like Mike, "Wakanda" (Axtone)