An hour and a half before taking their positions behind their laptops on stage, Aaron of The Hood Internet eats tortilla chips and salsa in the green room, while Steve searches for better a wi-fi connection down the hall. The mood is light and mellow, which is a stark contrast to their ragetastic live shows. But this is life on the road: chips and salsa, sub par wireless internet, suitcases, hotels, and of course, lots of shows.
Less than 24 hours prior to meeting up with me, The Hood Internet had performed at Brighton Music Hall about a mile down the road from Boston University Central. Not surprisingly, the show was sold out, but what else can you expect when the demand for their music is at an all-time high? Having recently released their fifth mashup mixtape entitled The Mixtape Volume Five, Aaron and Steve of The Hood Internet show no signs of slowing down.
Originally from Charlotte, NC, Aaron made the journey northwest to Chicago a few years ago, where he would eventually meet Steve. They played in a band together, and started The Hood Internet as a side project. “It was around 2007,” Steve said. “This was sort of in the wake of Girl Talk’s Night Ripper. We were like, ‘We should do that.’ And that’s what we did.” They started a website in 2007, which served as a trophy case for all of their mixes. Just like that, The Hood Internet was born.
After the initial shock of Night Ripper, people began to look for more artists in the mashup genre. That’s when music blogs began to feature The Hood Internet’s mixes, and things began to take off within a short period of time. “In the first few months the site kept going over capacity. Our old web host did not have enough bandwidth for all the downloading.” said Steve.
Crashed web servers? Not enough bandwidth? Too many downloads? Sounds like an IT guy’s worst nightmare. Thankfully, Steve and Aaron were not in the business of maintaining web browsers and monitoring bandwidth usage. The digital chaos they created encouraged them to crank out even more mixes. “The way people listen to music on the internet is forever changing. People were interested in what we were making,” Steve commented. “Interested” might have been an understatement, as their wildly popular mashups soon became a staple on The Hype Machine, a popular and innovative MP3 blog aggregate site that highlights the most blogged about songs on the internet.
Having built up a catalog of about 400 mixes, there must be a couple of stand out tracks, right? Aaron laughed and replied, “It’s like asking parents to pick their favorite kid. Which one do you really like the most?” He continued, “But yeah, an early stand out was when we mixed R. Kelly’s ‘I’m a Flirt’ with Broken Social Scene’s ‘Shore Line.’ Anything with R. Kelly is usually a jam.”
Indeed anything featuring R. Kelly is a jam. When prompted to divulge more about other mixes that were particularly noteworthy, Steve chimed in: “According to what Hype Machine says, the Grizzly Bear ‘Two Weeks’ and Dead Prez ‘Hip Hop’ that Aaron mixed together is definitely the most popular mashup we have out right now.” After listening to their favorite tracks, as well as many others, you begin to wonder what the creative process is like. The marriage between instrumental and acapella doesn’t just formulate out of thin air.
It turns out that making successful mashups is part experiment, part calculation, and part surgery. Aaron explains, “Usually we have to edit out instrumental sections from a song… It’s mostly mixing and matching, and trial and error. You listen for what’s going to sound cool together. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.” So, much to the chagrin of critics, there is an art to creating a mashup. It isn’t simply putting together two songs and hoping for the best. There has to be some sort of order to all the chaos, because at the end of the day, people are jamming out to these mixes.
Thus far, the response to The Hood Internet’s mixtapes has been greater than either band member could have imagined. When they first started it as a side project, they couldn’t have possibly predicted that they would be performing for thousands of people all over the country. With several music festivals such as Lollapalooza under their belt, and SXSW and Bamboozle on deck, it is clear that their side project has turned into a movement. After their weekend in Boston, Aaron and Steve will travel across the border for a few shows in Canada. The party never stops when you’re rocking with The Hood Internet. It just continues into the next city.
Look out for The Hood Internet in a nearby city. You can also check them out at TheHoodInternet.com, The Hype Machine, Facebook, and Twitter. For concert booking inquiries, contact Derek Becker: firstname.lastname@example.org