Production Tips with Das Nibley: 7 Tips for Creating Mashups

Hey friends, Das Nibley here with your weekly production tip. Aside from doing original productions and remixes, I am also a big fan of creating mashups and mashup videos. Although I love doing my own originals and remixes, mashups are another fun way to reach a new audience and I can easily say I have gained the majority of my social network following through my mashup projects. I get a decent amount of comments asking how I make some them so here are a few suggestions for how to create your own unique mashups.

1) Use high quality files.

-Avoid low-grade audio files that may clip or sound scratchy. For example, in my recent 2Pac/Biggie mashup, I went to the original sample source they used in “Runnin’ (Dying to Live)” (Edgar Winter’s “Dying to Live”) and edited (warped/transposed it) myself because the quality was higher than in the 2Pac/Biggie acapella file.
-Be sure to use audio files with a minimum Bit Rate of 128kbps (*You can check this in iTunes)

2) Practice Warping (Ableton) or time-stretching audio in your DAW.

-Generally, the majority of your work on a mashup will be with time alteration/beat-matching and making sure tracks “fit” together. Practice this in your free time and it will become second nature. Also be mindful of the warp mode your are using for each track though (I.e. In Ableton, “Complex” mode will likely sound better than “Beats” mode if you are transposing a sound).
-Here’s a solid video tip for Warping in Ableton.

3) Use the metronome (tempo click) and a bpm counter as a reference point.

-This is a cool site for quickly checking (or tapping) the general BPM or tempo range of track: http://www.all8.com/tools/bpm.htm

4) EQs are your best friend.

-When it comes to FX, EQs are easily your best friend and sometimes the only effect you may really need. This makes sense since two tracks may likely share common frequencies and you often want to EQ-out bass or other competing frequencies in one or both of the tracks. For example, there are multiple moments in my Madeon Tribute (Live Mashup) where I removed bass from tracks to make room for other elements in the mix.

5) Look for songs with the same or similar chord progressions.

-Also listen for tracks that share the same key signature (I.e. Beatport gives you the tempo and key of the tracks on their site). Play around with transposing/modulating tracks as well because they are often a semitone or two apart from being in key together!

6) Don’t overdo it with compression, limiting, and processing in general.

-Less is usually more when processing/mastering the final mix of your mashup. Remember that the vast majority of tracks you use in a mashup have already been compressed, limited, and mastered so you may degrade the quality of the track if you try to add too much compression, limiting, and processing!

7) Trust your ears!

-Music theory can be helpful, but most importantly trust your ears and what sounds good together. Even if you have no musical experience, you can still create great mashups by testing what “works” together and your ears will almost always tell you if something doesn’t sound right.

So go find some tracks you love and give these mashups tips a try. Who knows where it could lead you? After all, a single mashup video is a huge reason for Madeon being as big as he is now!

Thanks for reading, and as always please feel free to comment, message, tweet or contact me in any way with questions or suggestions for future tips.

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