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The Head Behind Jaydiohead

February 18, 2010

It’s a simple concept really. Take the smooth eerie rhythms and melodies of Radiohead and juxtapose them against the forceful authority of Jay-Z’s rapping and you get Jaydiohead. The ultimate mashup of two modern titans from two completely different realms of the musical world.

Surprisingly, it works.

It works really well.

If you haven’t heard it, check it out here.

Jaydiohead was released over a year ago on January 1, 2009 so perhaps this is old news to all of you but we were just recently able to talk with the man behind Jaydiohead, NY producer and DJ Max Tannone for an in-depth interview. Check it out below.

Justin Miyamoto: First off I’d like to say that Jaydiohead is amazing. It’s crazy how well you’ve put them together. So tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into mashups?
Max Tannone: I started off making beats when I was 15. I got a copy of Fruity Loops (now FL Studio) and was just experimenting putting sounds together. The Neptunes (producers Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo) were a big influence on me at that time, and I spent a lot of time on their message board posting beats for feedback from more established members. By 15 I was playing the drums, and this helped me understand the rhythmic underpinnings of a basic hip-hop track. I enjoyed the process, and just kept at it until I began to layer acapellas over my beats and instrumentals that other people had made as well. For a long time though, I only did beats – trying to collaborate with MCs mostly over the internet. I got into the “mashup” thing with Jaydiohead…actually doing “Wrong Prayer” and “Ignorant Swan” about a year before the other tracks. When I thought of the name “Jaydiohead” I felt like I had to do it.

JM: It’s pretty interesting how a name can inspire and really push us to create amazing work. I have a band that sorta came together in the same way. We’re called The Oceanographers. Once I came up with the name I knew I had to do it and it was pretty much smooth sailing from then. So what came next? How do you go about creating a “mashup”?
MT: I like your band name, its very worldly. Sometimes a good idea needs a good name to kick start it. In regards to creating a mashup, I’m sure everyone works differently. For Jaydiohead, I essentially found the tempos of Radiohead tracks and Jay-Z acapellas, and sorted out what could go together. From there I chose the two songs based on their individual sound and vibe, and what I was trying to achieve with the remix (is it foreboding, is it a party song, is it sad, etc.) I chopped the Radiohead track into tiny pieces so I could re-arrange it and then layer Jay-Z’s vocals on top. From here I would add drums, effects, additional melodies, any type of edit that I felt enhanced the piece or made it more interesting to listen to. I also make the tracks in the order they are sequenced on the album (with the exception of “Ignorant Swan” which was song #10 on Jaydiohead but was the second song I completed.)

JM: I’m interested, what are your favorite tracks?
MT: My favorite Jaydiohead track is “December Backdrifts” from Jaydiohead: The Encore – a close second is “Lufcifer’s Jigsaw” from the original Jaydiohead.

JM: “December Backdrifts” is a seriously epic/eerie ending. So… since Jaydiohead what has changed? I’ve noticed that it’s become pretty big on the internet and it was even on Last Call with Carson Daly.
MT: Thanks. I like eerie. Not too much is different though, since Jaydiohead. The main thing is that the popularity of the project has encouraged me to keep working and improving. Not everything I make will be as popular or as successful as Jaydiohead, but regardless it kind of pushed me to keep making remixes and music in general. I wish I could have provided a more glamorous answer, but I’m not suddenly in a recording studio with Jay-Z or anything…I still have my day job for sure.

JM: Hahahaha. Speaking of your day-job, which I forgot to ask you… what do you do these days?
MT: I’m working at a video post production company doing general assistant duties (including cleaning, moving equipment, etc), although sometimes I get to work on editing sound for commercials which is pretty cool.

JM: Last set of questions! I know you recently came out with an album featuring remixes of “Check Your Head”, could you explain the concept behind that? And what other things are you thinking about doing in the realms of music?
MT: Adrock from the Beastie Boys heard Jaydiohead and thought it would be cool if I could do a similar thing with their Check Your Head album, except this time combining the Beastie Boys with themselves (hence the name “Doublecheck Your Head.”) On their 1992 record “Check Your Head” are rock, jazz, and funk styled instrumentals along with more contemporary songs with rapped lyrics. So the idea was to take some of their rap vocals and overlay them onto the instrumental tracks. This was the basic concept behind Doublecheck Your Head. It consists of 6 tracks based on this idea, and the 7th track is a remix I did of the track “Too Many Rappers” from the Beastie Boys new album “Hot Sauce Committee” which features Nas. Although it didn’t go with the Check Your Head theme, I wanted to include it as kind of a bonus. The first four tracks from the album were uploaded on the Beastie Boys website for their fans to check out. I also uploaded the tracks onto to share with everyone as well. The Beastie Boys are really proactive and supportive when it comes to remixing and general collaborative culture, which is one of the reasons they’ve had such long-term success.

As far as the future, I’m working on another remix project right now. I need a few more months to work on it, but I think its coming along. I don’t want to say what it is – I’d rather people be a bit surprised when I put it online, and hopefully they enjoy it. Beyond this, I’m not sure. I’d like to collaborate with some other remixers, maybe on a joint concept album or remix, something along those lines. Its hard to say really, I guess I’ll just have to wait until the idea finds me.

JM: That’s really awesome. Thanks for spending the time to answer our questions this week, Max. Good luck and we hope to hear plenty more from you in the future.
MT: Thanks Justin I enjoyed answering your questions and again, thank you for the interest in what I’m doing. I appreciate it a lot.

This post was a featured article inside Proxart Magazine Issue 1. Click the link to download the whole issue in PDF format – for free!



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