Steve Reidell and Aaron Brink are not very loud people. Looking at them, you’d probably never consider them capable of doing something as ludicrously spectacular as, well, purchasing $465 worth of Taco Bell tacos for the sake of making an album cover. “They were pretty fucking nasty,” Reidell recalls.
As The Hood Internet, Reidell and Brink (who stylize their names as “STV SLV” and “ABX”, respectively) know how to have fun. In-between knob twists and carefully timed Macbook programming cues, the two whisper jokes to each other onstage. Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” clashes against Cee-Lo’s “Forget You” piano hook. An animated GIF loops images of dancing Darth Vaders, and below, careening the audience and punctuating the orchestrated madness are a lineup of dancers in crudely-designed cardboard boxes. The boxes are meant to resemble Apple II desktop computers.
Stereo Subversion sits down with the duo to discuss mash-ups (what else?), Brink’s “stunt double” as well as their love of the NBC sitcom Community.
SSv: How did the Hood Internet come to be? Just kidding, how many times have you guys answered that question?
STV SLV: Too many.
ABX: ’So how do you guys pick the tracks you’re going to use?’ [Laughs]
STV SLV: We were thinking about making an interview FAQ to be like, “Here are the answers to these questions. If you are interviewing us for your publication, please cut and paste this.”
ABX: Or an interview generator that would switch some of the sentences around but say the same things.
SSv: Let’s do a mash-up of the worst questions you’ve ever been asked with completely fake answers.
STV SLV: Do you have those questions or do we just tell you what they are?
SSv: Just the ones that irk you the most. The ones that stick in your mind. When you see journalists like me slowly walk up to you.
STV SLV: So, Aaron, tell me about this blog you made, Album Tacos. [Laughs] The inflection is important.
ABX: That’s a great question, thanks for asking. So I think your research is a little off, it’s not exactly a blog. It’s really-
STV SLV: I read on your Wikipedia that it’s a blog.
ABX: [Laughs] It’s a taco made of blogs. What we do is we take the blogs that we really like, usually blogs about food. We print them out because that’s the way I like to read my blogs; I don’t like to read them on the internet.
STV SLV: I think that’s reasonable.
ABX: We print them out. Then we shred them, put them in a taco shell and eat them. Hence, Album Tacos.
STV SLV: And scene. [Laughs] No, one more. Encore question. Can you tell me more about your mash-up of Estelle versus the Ting-Tings, which appeared at the Brit awards in 2009? I’m just going straight down the Wiki page. I only had time for that much research. [Vacuum sounds in the background.] That’s a Dyson Airblade. Shout out to Dyson Airblades. They’re not paying us to say that, but they could be and I want to let them know that.
ABX: You’ll have to give me a different question. I can’t answer that one.
STV SLV: You are a real dick in interviews man, skipping all these questions.
ABX: Ever since Girl Talk got big, mash-ups have been really big; can you tell us why mash-ups are so popular?
STV SLV: [Laughs] Sometimes people ask us, “What do you think about Girl Talk?” Like that’s such an open-ended question. I really don’t have any shit to talk about Girl Talk. Because that’s how we have jobs.
SSv: Girl Talk is just one guy. What happens when one of you is sick or can’t make it to the show?
ABX: Have you seen the cardboard cutout that fills in for me?
ABX: There’s a picture of me hanging out with it today. It’s in Steve’s basement.
STV SLV: We were playing the North Coast Fest, but Aaron had stuff going on so we made cardboard Aaron. Man you guys look great together.
ABX: We do, I can’t tell which one’s more handsome.
SSv: The one on the right has better hair I think.
ABX: [Laughs] I’m not usually that well dressed.
SSv: Why are mash-ups funny? I find a lot of people will pull me aside and say, “Hey, check out this new Hood Internet song, it’s hilarious.” What does that tap into that makes us laugh?
STV SLV: Well, it’s a pretty tongue and cheek bit of cleverness. It’s like, “Hey, what if this was instead with this!” That’s is the comical question that it poses. And it can have really great results as I think we’ve tapped into. But it can have really terrible results as we have also tapped into. There’s just a bit of humor to it. It’s meant to make the brain think, “I recognize this but not this.” Or “I recognize this but it is different.” [To ABX] What do you think about that? I went deep on that.
ABX: I was about to start crying. [Laughs] I agree with that, but I don’t think all mash-ups are funny. I think the more different they are, the funnier they are. Sometimes, if they’re really poorly done, they’re really funny too. There’s a really great one out there of Dave Matthews Band and Mystikal that we were listening to in the car several times this year [Laughs].
STV SLV: It was straight-up internet humor. It was somebody’s Tumblr and the name was Boy Chat. Yeah, like in all caps: “OMG! NEW MASH-UP! DAVE MATTHEWS BAND FT. MYSTIKAL” or something, I might not have that right.
SSv: Can people be mash-ups? Living double lives like Childish Gambino? He’s on an NBC sitcom no one watches-
STV SLV: Hold up now, hold up man. Yeah, you’re talking to some Community fans. I don’t really consider Childish Gambino to be living a double life. He’s just a dude in the arts. He has those two different things that he does, but that doesn’t really make him a mash-up just cause he does a bunch of different shit. Everybody does a lot of different shit. I have a friend that refers to people who do lots of different shit as a “slashie”. Like if you’re a rapper/actor/photographer/blogger, you’re a “slashie”.
ABX: I think people aren’t different from any kind of music in that there’s a little of different influences but I don’t think you’ll have a person that’d be two people together.
STV SLV: Didn’t they make a two-headed animal?
ABX: There was a Cyclops shark. If that’s what you’re thinking.
SSv: Why do you think there’s such a need for everybody to consume so much media? You guys are always posting songs, and I can’t blink without hearing about the latest hip hop mixtape.
STV SLV: No. It’s how people are digesting stuff nowadays. I think it’s been a product largely of the internet and digital music availability. Like music blogs that post a track a day. And you start to subscribe to all these blogs. You’ve got your reader list that’s full of 20 blogs. It’s like new music everyday. You’re filing through it a lot faster then it was available 15 to 20 years ago. It’s sort of how like MTV shortened the average shot-length in film. Music videos really slowed down people’s attention span for the length of shots. In the same sense… I just lost my train of thought. You want to take it? Volley! [Laughs]
ABX: Yeah, people are used to getting music now free or cheap. And getting directly from artists. It kind of shortens the shelf life for them. Before you would get a record and play it a whole lot. Now it’s like, “I got this MP3, let’s see if there’s remixes of it. Let’s see if someone does a mash-up of it. Let’s listen to it in different forms over time.” I think it has the same shelf life but people interact with it different ways. And I think it’s mostly due to the technology. I think it’s because people can.
SSv: Do you think we’ve lost the ability to appreciate things?
STV SLV: Not at all, but the attention span has changed. People still love music just as much as they ever did. I think they just love more of it faster.
SSv: Speaking of which, my attention span is changing right now. Tell me a joke.
STV SLV: I feel like our whole set is often considered a joke.
ABX: That would be pretty cool to just stop the music and do like a ten-minute stand up routine.
SSv: If you did stand up, what would your first joke be?
STV SLV: I would get out there, this would be my first line. “So you think it’s hot here?”
SSv: And scene.
ABX: I’d go, “What’s the deal with mash-ups?”