[Interview] Entering Magical Mystery Chambers
The year is 2010. Some of the best musicians we’ve got are kids with laptops who consume too many energy drinks. Welcome to the future — I hope you enjoy your stay.
Personally, I love mashups. I find the the concept of combining components of different songs to create a new cohesive whole both intriguing and inspired.
I’m intrigued by the notion that two pieces of music, completely unlike in terms of theme and style, can be rummaged for parts and brought together to make a third entity. How can this be? Could it be that what we perceive as differences are no more than manifestations of our own shortsightedness? Could we all be much more connected than we usually think? Could the universal appeal of art be the answer to bridging social gaps? I fucking hope so.
I’m inspired by the DIY approach to mashups — these musical amalgamations are usually the products of dudes with a keen ear, editing software, and some free time. As fans of the music they’re chopping and repositioning, these guys harness an enthusiasm for which we should all aspire. Just as you can watch the smiles spread across the faces of a garage band’s members as they work their way through their first cover tune, a mashup presents an intangible sense of passion.
Not all of them, of course. As with any genre of music, you have to dig through some real garbage in order to find a nugget of wonder. But once you find that nugget, you hold on to it and cherish it as much as possible.
Last weekend, I stumbled across one of the best musical mixtures I’ve ever heard – Enter The Magical Mystery Chambers. In the course of twenty-seven tracks, the vocals of the Wu-Tang Clan are placed on top of samples of the Beatles. The result is both kooky and wonderful, jarring and inviting. The instrumental workings of four white English dweebs serve as a playground for the assertive declarations of nine black Americans. While this may seem more akin to mixing ammonia and bleach than pizza and beer, the music is reworked in such a way to make it complementary.
Moreover, the gap between classic rock and rap is further bridged with the interjecting of audio clips from fan statements, commercials, and interviews pertaining (or sometimes not) to the two bands at hand. I haven’t yet, but I think it might be interesting to smoke some pot and give this album a spin. Hell, if I put Back to the Future on mute during this experiment I might really think I’ve traveled through time to collect members for an anachronistic supergroup.
I was so enamored of Enter The Magical Mystery Chambers that I decided to send some questions to the responsible party, Tom Caruana. He seems like a down-to-earth dude and was cool enough to actually respond. So for your pleasure, some words from the man daring enough to combine the Beatles with Wu-Tang…
I. Who are you and how would you describe your work?
I am basically a bedroom producer, who now has a studio in a spare room and makes beats, remixes, original tracks and run my own little label, Tea Sea Records. My work takes on various forms and I generally make what ever I feel like. I have instrumental projects, folk hip hop concept projects, remix projects and a funk project.
II. How did you come up with the idea for Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers?
I had been doing various remixes of American rappers, I had made an MF DOOM and Large Professor remix albums and was starting on a Wu one, I had this remix of Inspectah Deck’s REC Room using a cover version of the Beatles song Girl that gave me the idea to make a whole album of Wu Tang and Beatles.
III. Briefly (or, if you prefer, thoroughly) take us through the creative process of combining the music of the Beatles with the Wu-Tang Clan’s vocals. Did you start with the music and then add verses on top or was there another process at work?
I always started with their vocals, added drum beats and then finally putting the Beatles (or Beatles covers) samples in. Sometimes it would take 5 or 6 times to get the sample right but sometimes the first sample I tried worked and that’s how it stayed.
IV. One of my favorite aspects of Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers is the inclusion of interludes. How did you hunt down these snippets of interviews with the artists and their fans?
I had a CD of Beatles interviews, which had some nice bits on. The fan stuff I found on a download. I’ve always liked collecting random bits of spoken word to use in my music.
V. If my ears aren’t failing me (which they might be), it seems as though a lot of the Beatles samples used are not from the band’s albums but perhaps covers/tributes. Can you shed any light on this? Were these tracks easier to work with or were there other reasons for this?
Most of the time they were more usable than the Beatles originals, especially the instrumental versions – this meant I could keep some of the melodies without having the Beatles singing at the same time as Wu Tang rapping, with the exception of Might Healthy which samples She’s A Woman. I’ve also been a bit of a geek about collecting Beatles cover versions so it was just a way of using some of those.
VI. Truthfully, it took me a bit of time to get my hands on this album; many of the download links I first tried were no longer accessible. Is there anything you would like to say (either in general or specifically about your work) pertaining to Fair Use Laws?
I just made it for fun I had no intention of selling it, it’s a bit annoying that I had to take it off my website – but it’s still available on loads of other sites.
VII. Do you have a favorite Beatle? How about a favorite member of Wu-Tang?
No I like all members of both groups, they each have their own charm.
VIII. Any particular songs/albums by these two drastically different bands that have a special place in your heart?
Enter The 36 Chambers (easy choice) and The White Album (not so easy choice).
IX. What’re you up to now? Any work/releases you’d like us to know about?
I am working on a series of remix albums, including: MF DOOM, J-Live, DITC, Brand Nubian, Nas, Large Professor, these should be out soon. I also have an album with Grand Agent called The Ghetto Ain’t A Place coming out soon too.
X. Last chance to dance — anything else you want to get off your chest?
Check out the website www.teasearecords.net if you make beats there is an acapellas page where you can get some vocals of people that I’ve working with over the years. Other than that, dance and the world will dance with you.
Trust me — if you’re a fan of either the Beatles or Wu-Tang (or good music in general), you need to check out Enter The Magical Mystery Chambers. Use a Torrent to snag it, look it up on YouTube if you have to, but make sure you give this whole album a spin.