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Aided by the talents of producers and artists like Bill McClintock and DJ Cummerbund, mashups have made a rather unexpected comeback in 2018. But Boston musical wizard That One Eyed Kid has one-upped the game, spinning a live rendition of a triple-play mash-up that’s an delectable extension of the crystallized pop vision he first displayed on last year’s Crash And Burn EP.
Titled “A Breathing Mashup”, That One Eyed Kid’s latest effort combines three breath-taking jams that span decades: Kate Bush’s ethereal 1980 single “Breathing”; Oscar and the Wolf’s 2017 alt-pop joint “Breathing”; and Ariana Grande’s brand-spankin’-new September jam “Breathin'”.
Leave off that last “g” there for giddy-up.
“I’ve always been fascinated by pop songs probably for the same reason that people hate them,” That One Eyed Kid, the man born Josh Friedman, tells Vanyaland. “They’re made to be liked, to feel familiar, to be easily digestible… there’s something so honest about that. The best ones are an exercise in minimalism and finding like one or two things that push into a new direction and I think operating in that confine is one of the biggest challenges you could put on yourself as a songwriter or producer. So I truly, genuinely love a good pop song.”
Of course, then there’s That One Eyed Kid’s own natural curiosity as a producer that leads his mind to explore new arrangements and configurations.
“I’m also just a total fucking nerd. I’m always trying to tease apart when songs share tempos or chords, or like taking one melody and shoving it over another song’s harmony just cuz you can,” he adds. “I just love that shit. I’ve just always nerded out over theory, I went to music-nerd-camp and studied at music-nerd-school, I learned all the fancy names for all the fancy chords and there’s just something about putting an electron-microscope level of attention on pop songs that’s so satisfying to me. I used to do these a lot but they were really simple, usually just playing piano and singing… but I’ve been doing a lot more producing lately and I wanted to push myself to make something more challenging. The older ones usually just stopped at ‘do these chords fit under that melody’ and this became more of a sound-alike challenge. Could I reprogram that song’s drums with that song’s guitar tone. I really slaved over it. I thought it’d take me a couple days and it was just weeks and weeks of AB-ing with the references… just real neck-beard-level nit-picking. I wanted it to sound like the elements in those songs were recreated genuinely. And that it sounds good.”
Mission accomplished. This tri-cover also comes with a That One Eyed Kid performance video, which took a lot of trail-and-error, he says, but we think the finished product came out nicely. While we await new original jams from That One Eyed Kid, sink those teethy ears into three-minutes of Franken-pop bliss below, and catch him live October 28 at The Burren in Somerville for the Ariel Strasser CD release show.