With a new album coming out this spring, We Got This Covered thought we’d reach out to the hit mashup group Super Mash Bros and talk with them about it. After gigantic success with their previous two albums, ‘Fuck Bitches, Get Euros’ and ‘All About The Scrillions’, the guys hope to follow up with an exciting third album. We were lucky enough to get the chance to talk with Nicolas Fenmore, one of the founding members of the group. We discuss the group, their plans for the future and we get an exclusive on one of their new songs!
Check out the interview below. Audio version included at the end of the page.
We Got This Covered: Hi Nick, nice to meet you.
Nick Fenmore: Good to meet you to bro.
WGTC: So we just have a few questions we’d like to ask you.
WGTC: Firstly, how did the idea for Super Mash Bros. come about?
NF: We kind of fell into it, not really expecting it to become anything. Dick and I started making the music together back in 2006/2007. We were kinda just doing it for fun but then we threw a party for our friends and people liked our music. So we put it up on the internet and found ourselves touring a year later, people were actually enjoying it.
WGTC: What are your major influences? What kind of music do you guys listen to?
NF: At the time, we both were just starting DJ’ing and we ended up basically just DJ’ing parties in high school. At that time, the DJ wasn’t really a thing yet. For me, my major influence probably was DJ AM, we’re LA kids, we grew up around here and he was kind of running the streets as far as DJ’ing goes. Other influences include Flosstradamus and a lot of the guys out of Chicago around the time, we like that party vibe kind of thing. Now the whole electronic world has taken over so we’re trying to keep that old school party feel alive.
WGTC: In the future, would you consider bringing some electric sounds into your mashups, or will you keep it old school?
NF: Absolutely, we’re all big fans of what’s coming out these days. And, there’s only so much 90’s music we can sample. They’re not making more of that [laughs]. We’ve been working a bunch now on our newest release that we’re hoping to do in the spring time, and we’ve been making a lot of new sounds and sampling a lot more bands.
WGTC: Can you tell us more about this new release?
NF: There’s no exact date planned yet, we’re still finishing it. We’ve been working on it about a year now but hopefully it will be out in time for all the big spring parties and the start of the summer. That’s what we’re shooting for. In terms of what’s going on musically with it, I think we’ve come full circle with our sound, how we started and now what’s going on musically with all the elctronic music coming up these days. It’s kind of our ode to the 90s and 80s like we usually do but we also have a dubstep track on the album and we have a bunch of big club hits. It’s a pretty mixed up album.
WGTC: We’re looking forward to it. So tell us, when did you first start taking an interest in mashups?
NF: It was definitely in hight school. The first time I made a mashup was totally by accident. I literally was running crappy software on my computer that I think I probably stole from a torrent. It kinda just accidentally happened but I thought it was a pretty cool sound. I’d say a lot of credit to what we started doing was probably accidental and just kind of happened.
WGTC: When you play a live set, is it pre-determined or do you make it on the fly?
NF: It’s definitely a mixture of both. We now have a third member of the band. He was our manager at first but when we started touring more we brought him into the group. Ethan is a film major and he does music videos for a lot of bands and we bring him in. So now all our live shows have visuals going on behind us with projectors everywhere. We try to correlate the visuals with the lyrics and theme of what’s going on and it’s kind of hard to do that on the fly. So we do plan a lot of our sets but we do leave little breaks in between here and there for us to improv and kind of go with what the crowd is feeling.
WGTC: Do you have any favorite mashups or any that stand out to you for any particular reason?
NF: You know it’s funny, we get that question a lot. I don’t know, I can’t say I have a particular favorite but I am really into this new one on our third album. I’ll give it away so you can spoil it for everyone. We do Drake’s track Forever with a Flaming Lips song. If you’ve heard the Drake song, it’s a super heavy banger but we do it almost acoustically with a really chilled guitar part. It’s like a really happy sing a long at the end of our sets now that we do and that will probably be the last track on the new album.
WGTC: Do you have any particularly memorable shows?
NF: We have one coming up on Saturday that I have a really good feeling about. It’s going to be pretty crazy and memorable. It’s in New York at Irving Plaza. In terms of shows we’ve done before, we’ve always had a great time playing at Princeton, which probably sounds kind of funny but those kids know how to party.
WGTC: How do you balance your university life with your music career? Super Mash Bros. must take up a lot of your time.
NF: It totally does. Actually Ethan graduated, which is funny because he’s the youngest out of the three of us. He graduated early so now he’s just chilling and making videos. I used to go to UCLA but I’ll be done for the rest of the year so I can run around the country playing music for you guys.
WGTC: How long do you see yourself doing this for?
NF: It’s hard to say. I’m happy to do it for as long as people want us to keep doing it. I’d say at least a few more years, if not a little big longer. We probably want to venture outside the mashup world as well and start making some originals with some hip hop artists or singers.
WGTC: How long does a mashup usually take and what are the stages that it takes to make one?
NF: Tough to say. Some come pretty quickly but some take longer. It’s more so that we come up with the pieces and once we have a bunch of pieces we put them all together at the end. I don’t really sit down and go from start to finish on one track. We make all the individual mashups and find all the different combinations and then see what flows into what and make the tracks from there.
WGTC: Were there any particularly tough tracks to make?
NF: Ya actually, on our first mixtape that we did, there was a mix of J-Kwon’s Tipsy and Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap. It’s actually kind of funny, we did that mix and then Jason Derulo had a big single with that same sample and so did someone else I think. I find it funny though that we did it first but no one really knew about us at the time so we don’t really get much credit for it. But that one was difficult because we took the Imogen Heap verse which was freeform tempo and not in any time signature, and we warped the entire thing to go over a beat. It was pretty technically challenging at the time.
WGTC: You said earlier that you would be interested in working with hip hop artists, any in particular?
NF: Sure, of course there’s the Kanye West’s of the world [laughs] but I’ll be a bit more practical. I’m down to find some independent artists. I’m all about that. I want to find some local artists who don’t really have the spotlight yet but could really kill it on a track.
WGTC: How much musical theory goes into making your tracks?
NF: I’d say, subconsciously probably a good amount. I was actually a music compositional theory student in school, so that was my thing. I was the nerdy, techie guy [laughs]. But in terms of mashing up in tempos and keys, we try not to stretch everything too far away from what the original sounded like. To me, I think, psychologically even the untrained musical ear, has a better time recognizing something that they haven’t heard in a while if it’s in the same key and around the same tempo. So we try to keep things pretty authentic and make sure we’re not mixing things in different keys and whatnot. We try to keep everything sounding good.
WGTC: Do you see yourselves playing any major festivals like Coachella in the future or would you rather stick to the more intimate club scene?
NF: Well we’re playing a bunch of festivals this year. Two have been announced so far. We’re playing at Ultra in Miami in March and at Bamboozle in New Jersey in April. There’s a few more that we can’t talk about right now but not Coachella unfortunately, hopefully next year.
WGTC: Any crazy stories from the road that you can share?
NF: Ya, the first kind of mini tour we went on, when we were literally managing ourselves and answering all our phone calls and scheduling all our travel, we were playing a show in Boston on a Friday night and we had a show in Western Pennsylvania the next day. We thought we were playing the next day at night, but we found out super late that it was a day time show, so I think I drove 8 hours from like 2 in the morning, right after our set, until 10 the next morning and played a show. That trip was very wild because if you’ve ever driven in California, it’s nothing like driving on the east cost on the New Jersey turnpike at 2 in the morning.
WGTC: What kind of software/hardware do you use?
NF: We run Ableton Live when we’re producing everything and we prep all of our samples and get them ready to go and I spin them in Traktor and I’ve been working with the new Traktor S4 recently. Dick spins Serato and Ethan, I’m not sure, some crazy hybrid monster software that he created to put all the video up [laughs].
WGTC: What sets you apart from other mashup artists like Girl Talk and The White Panda?
NF: Our vision for our set is that we want to play songs that people can sing and dance to. We see ourselves not so much as DJs but more so as a band and going to a live performance. We interact with the crowd, we don’t play music nonstop for a full hour, we take little breaks and feel the vibe out. Our live set is super different from our album work, we change up everything and have video, so it’s more of an entire social media-esque experience where there is just a ton of different things going on at once.
WGTC: Can you tell us how much your lives have changed since you started?
NF: Ya, it’s been kind of crazy for us. None of us would have ever predicted this would happen and I don’t think any of us were trying to make this happen. We were pretty content just being dorky university kids playing parties ever weekend. In terms of major changes, I live in an airport and on an airplane on a weekly basis so that’s pretty crazy and I’ve been to Mississippi three times in one year which I never thought was possible.
WGTC: So that being said, when do you think your first big break came? What was your turning point?
NF: I think it’s been a steady progression. I’d have to say recently, we played High Line Ballroom in NYC in September and it was our first show, where we literally sold out and not in LA, a new place, where we sold out an entire venue and it was a crazy, wild show. I don’t think any of us were expecting it and it was kind of like a big ‘oh my god, people out there actually like our music’ kind of moment.
WGTC: Where did you get the name Super Mash Bros. from, did you take it from the videogame Super Smash Bros?
NF: We totally did. I think one of our stoner friends, who just sits and plays videogames all day came up with the idea and we were like, wait a second, that may work!
WGTC: Are you a fan of videogames?
NF: I dont play too many games. When I do, I stick to the oldies. I haven’t purchased a new system since my N64.
WGTC: What can fans expect from you guys in 2011? What does the year hold for Super Mash Bros.?
NF: We’re trying to do a brand new set for every single show we do and we like to tailor our sets to where we’re playing. I mean we’re playing Baltimore and New York this weekend so we’ll have crazy Bmore jams in Baltimore and we’re doing a bunch of video montages of big current events that are happening in New York right now mixed with all of our music, so definitely a lot of new material coming out. Once we release our album we’re hoping to start releasing a track a month kind of thing. And I hope they can expect to see us at more big festivals.
WGTC: We were wondering if you have any plans to sell your music in the future, and how do you mainly make your money?
NF: Ya, we don’t sell any of our music so all the money we make is from touring around. I don’t think we can sell our music because the majority of what we sample would be so incredibly expensive to clear. Our philosophy is we’re kids, we never wanted to pay for music so we’re happy to mix up these party mixes for everyone that they can have for free and put on whenever they want.
WGTC: Any tips for aspiring mashup artists?
NF: My tip to everyone is to literally make what you can. I made this first album out of my bedroom with a computer so it’s as accessible as it has ever been for people to make music. One of the best things for us in terms of our music spreading around was that we finished our first album right as Dick went to college and he kind of just gave it to all of his friends and it made its way through the country and through dormrooms and whatnot. So give it to your friends, give it away for free, let people put it on their iPods and eventually with this crazy social media world that we live in, it will get around.
WGTC: Well thank you very much Nick for taking the time to talk to us.
NF: My pleasure guys.
WGTC: And good luck with the upcoming album.
NF: Appreciate it, we’ll get it out as soon as we can.
WGTC: We’re looking forward to it!