Q&A: Glassbreaks Auteur dj BC On Mashing Up Philip Glass With The Beastie Boys, Kanye And The Fugees
Every day this month, in conjunction with our Feb. 1 cover story "Philip Glass, An East Village Voice," Sound of the City will post excepts of interviews with Glass and his collaborators, as well as reviews of several concerts celebrating his 75th birthday.
Today we're publishing our interview with Atlanta-based dj BC (a.k.a. Bob Cronin), whose album Glassbreaks mashed up The Beastie Boys' "Pass The Mic" with Glass's Einstein on the Beach (resulting in "Einstein On The Beast," above), Lil' Jon & the Eastside Boyz's "I Don't Give A Fuck" with Glass's pharaonic opera Akhnaten ("Lil' Tut"), and Kanye West, Talib Kweli and Common's "Get 'Em High" with "Evening Song" from Glass's Satayagraha ("Evening High").
Glass's musical use of repetitionwhich predated the DJ scene by some timemade it a perfect fit for mixing with rap and hip-hop. We talked to dj BC about this synchronicity, his fleeting encounters with Glass, and why he wasn't bitter when Glassbreaks was pulled.
I'm writing this long profile of Glass, and I'm talking to a lot of people who've worked with Glass, or who have been inspired by him in their work. I don't know anything of your history, whether you worked with him on Glassbreaks or not.
So, I've been doing remix music since the middle of the '90, when I was in college. I was using multi-tracks and stuff like that. I'd met Philip a couple of times, first when I was working at the Harvard music department. And I was the assistant to the chair, and they contacted the department and said "There's this performance at Carnegie Hall with Philip Glass and Laurie Anderson and Robert Wilson, and can you let your students know. If there's anyone who wants to go, they can come." And I contacted all the students, and they were all like, "Meh, no, we don't want to go." I was like, I'll drive to New York and hang out with Philip Glass! It was basically going to a rehearsal. So I went to observe the rehearsal.
I wasn't really doing mash-ups [at the time]. I didn't have the technology to match up the music using the construction of computers. So I was using a delay pedal. I didn't really brag to Philip Glass that I was making music at that time.
Do you recall actually meeting him that day?
Courtesy dj BC (Bob Cronin)
Yeah. I said, "I'm a DJ. I make hip-hop music." And my girlfriend at the time said, "I'm a textile designer." And he said, "Oh, yes," he said "What we do is very similar."
He said that to you or to her?
No, to the textile designer!
You know, and I was like, 'Oh, man." And then I met him at a show a couple of months later, and he didn't really remember me, and I was just a fan. But I always remembered that comment. I kind of see what I'm doing as similar to him [in] using pieces. I'm using pieces of other people's music, and he's using chunks of his own composition, repetitively or repeating with variations. He's sort of using chunks, and that spoke to me as to what he was talking about in being a 'textile designer,' and weaving and using threads.
But in any case, when I did Glassbreaks, I had started doing mash-ups in 2002, and I did a record called The Beastles, right after The Grey Album came out.I was inspired by The Grey Album.
I got a cease and desist from that, and I did a couple of other things where I got cease and desists. At that time, it was always a legal notice. They were threatening legal action or fine or something, and I'd take down whatever the company had a problem with, and it was actually kind of flattering to get noticed like that.