Earlier this month, a musician named @LeftAtLondon made a surprisingly dope mash-up of D.R.A.M.'s omnipresent single "Broccoli" and Metro Station's pop-punk classic "Shake It." And it was so well-received that the tune itself went viral, with both attributed parties RTing their approval of the -- for lack of a better word -- jam.
just made a mashup of Metro Stations "Shake It" & DRAM+Yachty's "Broccoli." I took a sleeping pill 30 minutes ago I should b knocked tf out pic.twitter.com/S9gmjOkLPG
— Jonatan Timson (@LeftAtLondon) December 30, 2016
That said, scrolling through the Washington-based musician's feed, we figured out that they were no stranger to virality. A former Viner, the uproariously funny artist has been using Twitter to post videos of themselves bobbing along to their clever mash-ups of everything from Smash Mouth x My Chemical Romance to Carrie Underwood x John Cena, to much Internet notoriety. While mashing up famous tunes gets them viral fame, their EP of original music -- titled "💜 " (aka The Purple Heart EP) -- is set to be digitally released soon. We reached out to find out more about the mastermind, their track selection process, shitposting and how they're just so goddamn good at the Internet.
Tell me a little bit about how you got started making these mash-ups — do you have a background in music? When did you decide to start uploading them on YouTube and why?
[I've been] writing my own songs [since] sixth grade and releasing acoustic demos throughout high school under the band name Left At London as a way to save up money to record future studio projects. It's honestly my passion, and the fact I'm getting attention for it is really helping me gain traction. I'm working on a music video and full studio recording for a song of mine I released acoustically in early 2016 called "Drag You Down" as we speak.
Anyways, my initial interest in making mashups was mostly from finding Isosine and DJ Earworm videos around the time I was a freshman, alongside that DJ Danger Mouse mashup album where he put The Beatles "White Album" and Jay-Z's "Black Album" together. The first mashup I ever made myself was "Viva La Vida" vs. "Maniac" [from Flashdance by Michael Sembello].
I didn't know shit about shit so I literally just put one track over the other and it sounded like a mess. You know that scene in The Office where it's the Dundies and Michael are rapping his parody of "O.P.P." over the original non-instrumental version of the same song? It sounded like that. Almost hilariously cacophonous.
I tried my hand at a couple others off and on but it wasn't until I started getting into Death Grips around 2014 that I did mashups as often as I did. They released instrumental and a capella tracks with almost every one of their releases. I remember vividly getting into Legend Of Zelda Wind Waker HD at the time and the Outset Island theme got stuck in my head constantly. That, combined with the fact that I was literally listening to Death Grips at least once every day (not a hyperbole, unfortunately), made me start singing their song "Hustle Bones" as I was walking around Outset Island. It honestly cracked me up hearing this calm, plucky string section being interrupted by "GIVE A FUCK WHATCHA HEARD YEAH FUCK WHATCHA HEARD 'FORE THIS REAL SHIT KICKS YOUR WHOLE CLIQUE TO THE CURB." So I asked a dude who went to high school with me to make a makeshift a capella track and I uploaded my mashup of the two. It wasn't until the mashup I made after that, which was a mix of Death Grips' "No Love" with Macklemore's "Same Love," that I got some credit for what I did.
The first mashup I posted on my Twitter that got some traction was of Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" with R. Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)". I was gonna upload it somewhere else, but the mashup only worked with the chorus of Paparazzi & not the rest of the song, so I figured it was just short enough for a tweet. After that, I posted some of my old pre-made mashups from my Soundcloud mashup era on Twitter -- including my Carrie Underwood x John Cena one -- along with making some more originals just for Twitter.
Walk me through the typical process for making a mashup. How do you select which songs you use? Do you actively try to combine unexpected genres?
As far as selecting what songs to choose for a mashup, honestly, I don't really choose them as much as they just happen to come to me due to the context. In terms of the "Broccoli" x "Shake It" mashup that went viral, I had gone down a rabbit hole of listening to poppy emo songs from the mid to late 2000's on YouTube and it just sort of happened.
I have/had a Vine account, which currently actually has more followers than my Twitter. I went viral once before when I made a Vine of me saying "hahaha I do that" and it somehow racked up almost 30 million views. Since Vine was on its last legs, I decided I'm just gonna let my account go out like the string ensemble on the Titanic -- but instead of "Nearer My God To Thee", I just kept on making Vines with Metro Station's "Shake It" playing in the background. My goal was to just shitpost until I lost as many Vine followers as I could before the app's inevitable deletion.
[With the "Broccoli" x "Shake It" mashup], I popped a sleeping pill a couple minutes before because I was getting restless and needed sleep, but I had an insatiable need to make the mashup before I went to bed, so I sleepily made a video of me playing the track. Because I couldn't download the instrumental to "Shake It," I had to play it on YouTube while I played around with the tempo of the "Broccoli" vocal track -- I don't think anybody knows this, but I was actually live-editing it that entire video. I mean, I just clicked 3 or 4 times but it's still technically live-editing. I posted it that night and I woke up with almost 1,000 new followers and 2,000 retweets. I found out D.R.A.M. himself retweeted it that night. I don't even know how he found it. I didn't even tag him. Even Metro Station said it was "even better than the original," which was hilarious to hear.
"If you hate dongald tromp but listen to rap, you're a hypocrite!" pic.twitter.com/P8o1Z5F4l9
— Jonatan Timson (@LeftAtLondon) November 15, 2016
Before my "Broccoli" mashup, my most popular twitter video was of me doing a bit of a monologue/rant of sorts on how bullshit it is for people to say that it's hypocritical to listen to rap music if you dislike Trump for being sexist. It had about 3,500+ retweets at the time the "Broccoli" mashup started getting traction, so I was originally shocked to see something I worked somewhat hard on be surpassed by this half-baked idea I had after one groggy night. But now I honestly just feel thankful that something as political as that video even made it past 500 RT's. I'm proud that I could make something discussing the correlation and complexities of racism and sexism in the music industry versus politics in an accessible way. But Lil Yachty singing "beat that pussy like Hulk Hogan" over a scene kid classic will always be more accessible. Every time. And I ain't mad.
What are a few of your favorite videos that you've made?
My favorite mashup is hands down my Smash Mouth x My Chemical Romance mashup. It was fun when I first made it -- around early 2015 -- to play it around my friends, seeing their original fatigue at the idea I was going to play an MCR song, and then a second layer of horror when "All Star" started playing over it. The track got [some traction] when I originally posted it on my [now deleted] SoundCloud, but when I posted it on Twitter, Smash Mouth DM'd me & then out of nowhere they tweeted a selfie of mine to promote the mashup. The fact that my selfie was saved in Steve Harwell's phone for at least a few minutes is a personal triumph of mine.
My favorite video was originally an old Vine I made parodying Drake's occasionally corny songs with the made-up lyric "Meant to be together, you know we're the same, bitch / Ordered the same lunch, call it a samewich." But since then I've been rewatching my video that's literally just "Living On A Prayer" but every second line of the chorus is changed to "We're halfway there" instead.
When did you first start noticing your videos getting picked up?
I used to have a habit of random videos of mine getting some momentum but receiving no new followers from them ever since I started making Vines in 2014. However, the first time someone ever shared my video & I started getting actual followers from it was around February 2016. It was about a month before Emma Greer died of cancer and she tweeted my Vine about Hillary Clinton's embarrassingly pandering "How Hillary Is Like Your Abuela" article and after that, I gained about 3,000-4,000 followers throughout that same month and built up a steady following off of that. To be honest, I don't think I would be talking to you today if that hadn't happened.
Fast forward to now, and famous people with more money than my entire county are retweeting my shit. Just last week, Migos retweeted my video where I edited Bad And Boujee down to just ad-libs. They still haven't approached me for a collab though. I just wanna yell out one "SKRRT" in the background of a chart topping rap song. That's right there on the bucket list.
Bad And Boujee by @migos and @liluzivert (but it's only the interjections+ad libs), a performance. pic.twitter.com/Idvl2BdehP
— Jonatan Timson (@LeftAtLondon) December 31, 2016
I'm also curious to know why you choose to film yourself listening to your songs, as opposed to just uploading the mix. Is there a particular reason for this?
Honestly? It's because iMovie kept crashing. I don't know, it's always interesting to see my face for a mix of disappointment, pride, laughter and self-concern while listening to my own mashups.
It ended up being a good and bad thing though, because on one hand, it's great for branding myself. People have recognized me in public for my videos since, which wouldn't have happened if I only posted them on Soundcloud. But on the other hand, getting asked if I'm "a boy or a girl" a minimum of 5 times a day is starting to get draining. A majority of them don't even follow my Twitter. It's the type of transphobia that's always surreal to encounter. These people ask my gender, even though most of them mean sex, as if it's a casual question. They say it in the same tone that somebody might ask "Hey, do you remember the name of that kid in that one movie?" Which by the way, the answer to that question is almost always Jonathan Lipnicki. Maybe my gender is Jonathan Lipnicki.
Have you gotten into any legal trouble yet for the tunes?
I mean, technically it can be classified as legal trouble, but that term feels too dramatic for essentially what was The Weeknd's label clicking a button to request SoundCloud to delete my account. It was uneventful and just sort of happened.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
A lot of people have also been asking for MP3's of my mashups, so I also may release a compilation album of just my mashups in the future, too. Stay tuned, get hyped. Fair warning: you gotta follow me on @LeftAtLondon on whatever you can to be updated, though.