In recent times, the mash-up genre has been stretched past the realm of Girl Talk's party-starting. Total Freedom gave it an air of punk unpredictability, and as the past week's string of Smash Mouth remixes has shown, Tumblr has steered them to the anarchic origins of John Oswald's plunderphonics.
Last year, Toronto comedian Duncan Lincs created Views From The Styx, a mashup of songs by Drizzy and the band behind “Mr. Roboto.” By taking a pun on the name of Drake's upcoming album to such a conclusion, he aligns himself with sonic absurdists like Neil Cicierega, whose work exists to amuse, beguile and frustrate as much as genuinely entertain.
A huge fan of both artists, Lincs sought to craft something listeners of both would appreciate and revisit. We got into the project over email.
How was this project conceived?
I started from the pun, but I am generally a fan of people that fully commit to a dumb joke. In early 2015, I started making beats for a project I was originally going to call Views From The Sticks which was going to be made from country music samples and Drake vocals. The track "Roaming Charges" is actually a holdover from this first idea. It's about bad cell reception and contains a sample of the Stompin' Tom Connors' song "Rubberhead."
At some point last year, I scrapped my first idea and started focusing just on Drake and Styx. My original idea was too open. That’s why clear limitation for a project like this is actually good, because instead of pulling from any record ever, I was pulling from two catalogues.
What're your favorite individual Drake and Styx songs and why?
This is like making me choose between my children. I was listening recently to “Lord Knows” and I love that line Bought a white ghost, now shit is getting spooky. Very, very scary like shit you see in the movies. That line just looped should be the theme song for the new Ghostbusters movie.
During the process of making this tape, I also gained a new appreciation for "6 God." There are hardly any Drake acapellas floating around the Internet so I started making my own using Ableton. I realized that you can totally hear OB O’Brien in the background. He's misunderstood and underrated. He's managed to get influential people to adopt a hand gesture and say crazy non-sensical shit like "TOP SZN's the regime" after only releasing two songs. It's like one big conceptual joke.
What song would I pick if I had to convert a Drake fan into a Styx fan? The intro to the song "Snowblind" reminds me of the breakdown on "Know Yourself." I mashed up these two songs on the beat "Half Penny, 2 On." Plus Canadians know snow blindness is real.
I'd also recommend that people check out the album Styx II from '73. Like a lot of Drake’s albums it’s essentially a concept record. Also I feel like the OVO crew would approve of the minimalist white cover.
What can Drake, who has never had a number one hit, learn from Styx, who have?
Styx is not at all afraid of a ballad. They only number one hit they had was a piano ballad “Babe.” If Drake really wants that number one spot, I think he should embrace the ballad. He needs to do a monster, key changing piano ballad called "Ting." It could be like him and Adele with Chilly Gonzalez on piano. That, or just write more conceptual songs about robots like “Mr. Roboto.” He already writes about tech and his phone a lot. Why not a song about a robot?
Also, Styx had some amazingly theatrical sets on their tours. It was basically a cocaine hubris meets Broadway vibe on a lot of their tours. I’d be up for a Views From the 6 tour that was staged like that. Actually, when I was making the beat for “Woe Blind,” I was imagining it as like a West Side Story "The Rumble" moment, where Drake gets surrounded by a rival gang or something. I even included a sample of somebody whistling in the track and I imagined that that was him whistling for his crew and they would like descend out of the shadows.