To create a successful remix, one must be in tune with cultural landmarks that hold a certain amount of weight, not only personally, but with a wider audience as well. Being able to rework something specific (like a piece of music, video, or any other kind of media) in conjunction with other pieces, weaving them into something new takes a certain amount of talent. Being able to do it effectively takes skill, careful planning, and serious effort.
In addition to having the tools for doing so, there has to be a reason for creating new content, or augmenting pre-existing content. More often than not, it is mainly to be a part of a cultural phenomenon, to help shape the direction in which the phenomenon is headed. “Participation signals solidarity” by sharing openly with others that have a similar passion for the new game at hand (Knobel & Lankshear 29). By putting a personal spin on a new meme or remixing a song, essentially people are uploading their experience, their story of interaction with that piece of media.
For example, the reason DJs become so popular, without having created original content is because they understand the rules of how people relate to individual songs, and recontextualize them by splicing in other songs or ‘found sounds’ from cinema, television, interviews, or sounds effects. The connotations from these other pieces of media, when laid over the original media ‘text’, help add a new (possibly opposing) perspective on it.
The DJ Girl Talk has been able to find commercial success by playing off this very concept: mashing together an album-length song, comprised mostly of recent hits, and some personal favorites. Usually, no sample lasts more than a minute on average on any one of his albums, yet people enjoy them immensely as tiny bits of very new nostalgia.
This also explains why Instagram became such a hit. It created an easily accessible avenue for filtering photos to give them a vintage (nostalgic) feel, while maintaining the high-speed publicity of social networking. To borrow once more from Knobel and Lankshear, it is the mentality of “‘I get it; I’m part of this’ or ‘I am like you'” (29).
As a media consumer myself, I too, was able to share in this phenomenon recently, borrowing from two albums released a decade apart from one another to create something new.
When I was first exposed to Daft Punk in 2001, it was through a music video on Cartoon Network entitled “One More Time”. It was featured in between two half hour blocks of programming as a filler. At the time, I did not really care for electronic based music, but was intrigued by the video. By allowing that video to enter my sphere of influence, I can proudly say I have continued to explore electronic music extensively. It has even affected my criteria for a good piece of film; such is the case for the 2011 film (and subsequent soundtrack for) Drive. Because I know there are countless others that felt the same way about that particular soundtrack, I knew remixing Kavinsky’s “Nightcall” with Daft Punk’s “Something About Us” would not only blend sonically, but also culturally and emotionally as well. Though it may not be as technically proficient as Girl Talk’s efforts, I hope it will breed further hybridization and ultimately prove to be an example of “‘fertitlity'” in its potential content (Knobel & Lankshear 26). Feel free to remix it if you wish. 🙂