Get to know a DJ: 7777777 Life Support
Adam Golfetto is a young Toronto DJ who's been dropping mash-up mixtapes in the vein of Girl Talk for several years - but Girl Talk Shmirl Talk, I didn't think I liked mash-ups until I heard one of Golfetto's mixtapes (mixfiles? I saw "mixfiles" on a thing the other day and might starting owning it).
Golfetto is unassuming and laid back, but you'd never know it walking into a room while he's playing. The live energy of his fast paced drop-it-while-it's-hot audio style knocks out any doubt as to if mash-up DJs are intriguing or dumb - they're really fucking fun. The first time I saw 7x7 live was a total "I get it now" moment. Cue choral synths.
Golfetto claims to spend an average work-day's worth of work on every minute or two of a mashup mixfile, and I believe him. When he forces a riff you love to share the same time and space as a song you hate (or reminds you of disturbing childhood psychosis) it feels... great.
Elliot Smith, ODB, Britney Spears, Dire Straits, Radiohead, Jay-Z, Blink 182, The Avalanches, Kayne, Arcade Fire, The Beastie Boys, Daniel Johnston, X-tina, The Postal Service, The Spice Girls, Sigur Ros, Crystal Castles; no artist is beyond Golfetto's reach. I'd compare it to an audio "Big Brother" reality show situation where instead of fighting and making fools of themselves, the show's mis-matched stars align and begin to go all new-age transcendental, communicating telepathically and holding hands - but instead of getting bored and grossed out, you want to dance.
7777777 (so many 7's) Life Support will be playing (non-officially) during Canadian Music Week at Detour Bar, so I got some much needed answers from the 25 year old artist, including if he likes people talking to him about Girl Talk. Golfetto also revealed the first 777777 track was a Xiu Xiu mash-up, which blew my mind. Do yourself a favor by ditching out on CMW for an hour to see him play, and loose your cynicism, along with all the other random local cuties who appear at this guy's shows.
Let's start with the personal: are you from Toronto originally?
I was born in Toronto and lived in and around Davisville Village until I was 12. Then for 6 years I lived in Muskoka. After university I returned to the city, and now live in the Beaches.
How did your 7777777 Life Support project come to be? Were there any other music projects before it?
I started playing the drums when I was 4. I've played in a lot of bands but I've found that I prefer to work on my own. So when I was about 14 or 15 I started a solo music project that ended up becoming Hi-Fives All Around! Under that title I recorded and mixed 5 albums of folk rock music. When I was 18, I kind of lost interest in recording and wanted to move to something else. Mashups were sort of coming to the forefront at that time, but I wasn't really hearing anything I found that impressive. So I said, "why don't I just make my own mashups?"
Let's talk about the technique behind your mix tapes: do you consider yourself a producer, remixer, mash-up artist, DJ, musician, sound artist...?
Kind of a cop-out answer, but I'd say a combination. First and foremost I'm a mashup artist, but I love just playing full songs too and finding cool transitions between them. There is so much amazing music out there that does not require remixing but instead just stands up so well on its own. I create all my own beats for my mixtape so in a way I'm also a producer. I've remixed a few songs as well but I don't think I'm particularly good at that so I tend to stay away from it.
How do you keep track of the elements of songs you use in your mix-tapes and DJ sets? For instance, within sixty seconds you'll have a Blink 182 guitar riff move into a No Doubt riff, while over top other elements are playing... I'd need a crazy spreadsheet or something.
It takes me about 8 hours to mix a minute-long segment of a mixtape. I spend a really long time working out each part. So I have lots of time to focus on all the different parts and the way in which I'd like to use them. It's a slow process but it's the way I'm comfortable working.
How do you become inspired to blend certain tracks or sounds together? I picture you hearing a Celine Dion ballad on the radio and thinking "I have to hear someone rap over this".
The most common process for me is finding a music loop I'd like to work with, and that could be anything that grabs my attention. It's always a song I like though. The vocals always come later. I start with the loop and make a beat for it, then add other musical elements and finish with the vocals. I like it because I kind of get to figure it out as I go along. When I try to come up with a mash before I start mixing, I find it never turns out the way I pictured it in my head.
What music do you listen to? It seems like you're open to a lot of different genres: I hear rap, r&b, and pop mixing with dad-rock, punk, and even symphonic elements - plus wild cards like Daniel Johnston.
I really do listen to a huge spectrum of genres. I go through phases day by day. Like, right now I'm banging minimal house and techno, but later tonight I could be seriously into lo-fi indie rock or hip-hop or swing music. I find jumping around as much as I do really has had a good effect when I'm mixing because it makes for some wild combinations and transitions.
You've been DJ-ing around Toronto for a while: what's been the general reaction to the music you play?
To be honest, I never thought mashups were good club music. Mashups work best in your headphones or as background music at a party. My mashes change so quickly in beats and samples that they end up being really hard to dance to. I'd much rather just do an electrohouse set or a hip-hop set or a trap set. I find staying in the realm of one genre for a show works best for me. My show at Detour will be focused on danceable indie rock that was popular when I was about 14-18. There may be a few 90s classics in there too though...
What's been your most magical crowd interaction while DJ-ing?
I just love when people come up to me and tell me how much fun they're having. It doesn't happen often but it absolutely makes my night. I also love making people dance. Seeing a bar packed with people sweating, dancing, drinking, and smiling is one of my favourite feelings ever.
Do people talk to you about Girl Talk a lot? If yes are you into that or is it annoying?
Whenever people try to hype my music to other people they end up saying, "it's like Girl Talk." I think Greg has made some really amazing mashes and he's done incredible things for the genre. It's flattering to even be considered in the same conversation as him. That said, I don't necessarily like my mashes being compared to his because I think we approach things differently. To me, he's at his best when he finds a really good mix and just lets it ride for a while, but he only does that about three times per mixtape. I try to do that every second of every mixtape. So he's definitely an inspiration but I like to think we're different.
Do you listen to Nike7up? For whatever reason I still don't f with GirlTalk, but Nike's mashups are art to me.
I haven't heard of them but I'll definitely check them out. I don't really listen to what other mashup artists are doing, to be honest.
I'm drawn to the playful nature of your mixtapes: I can feel that you're genuinely having fun finding these sounds. Do you think there's something in your brain wiring that compels you to make disparate recordings unite? Do you have any memories going back to childhood that might explain 7777777's style?
I do believe you can make almost any two samples work together with enough tweaking. It might be that I'm interested in opposites attracting or something. I make these mixtapes for myself first and foremost. It's all songs I love to listen to and I try to find a new way to approach them. I think as a child I was already making connections between different songs and finding similarities everywhere. I used to love learning all the lyrics to a hip-hop track and then rapping them out loud over a different song's beat and seeing how I could change the flow to suit a different feeling.
Do you remember your first mashup?
The first mash I ever made involving more than just two tracks was called "I Luv How I Am My Father's Afterclap" and it used "I Luv The Valley" by Xiu Xiu, "I Am My Father's Son" by Wolf Parade, and "Afterclap" by 13 & God. It was disgustingly choppy and poorly mixed, but it definitely sparked something in me.
Why "7777777 Life Support"??
I actually don't remember. The amount of 7's in the name make it impossible to tell people my name while trying to shout over the music at one of my shows. I should probably change it but I like it. Also I'm sort of obsessed with the number 7.
Do you take requests or hate requests?
Loathe. I've never taken a request and I've gotten myself into some very bad situations with drunken people who do not like being denied the song they want to hear. One guy tried to get me to play a Lil Wayne song, and when I said I don't take requests he started trying to pull the cables out of the PA system. But mostly people just stand beside me and insult me for a few minutes. My view is that this is the music I've chosen to play tonight, and while I'm here to please people and get them to dance, I wouldn't be much of a musician if I just played what other people told me to.
Would you do ever a mashup on the spot or do you need to try it at home and work the kinks out first?
I need to spend forever tinkering with my mashups, which is also why I don't like playing them live. I use a super primitive editing program that I've used since I was about 16, and I like to just sit down for long periods of time and slowly build up my mashes piece by piece.
What are some songs (or stems) that you can't live without lately?
Like I said, it changes every day, but my buddy Derek showed me "Let's Have A Kiki" by the Scissor Sisters and "Bear Hug" by The 2 Bears. I've really been cranking those up lately and I'm going to drop them on the 22nd. Interpol's first two albums will always hold a huge part of my heart. I'm a huge fan of Grouper and everything she's been doing. I've also never been able to start mashing without considering the vocals for MOP's "Ante Up" or any vocal by Young Buck. They go with absolutely anything.
What's coming up for you this year?
Currently I have a show or two lined up, but what I'm super focused on right now is biking across Canada. On May 30th I'm leaving from Victoria, British Columbia and biking to St. John's, Newfoundland. I'm super excited to camp beneath the stars every night and just zone in on my thoughts and music while on the bike.
Best Toronto neighbourhood: I'm a Davisville Village/Leaside/Rosedale boy at heart but the Beaches are treating me very well.
Weirdest thing you've seen on the TTC?: First thing that comes to mind is a guy getting his bags stuck in the door and having to run alongside the train while shouting wildly.
Favourite Toronto LP, ever: For a long time it was "You Forgot It In People" by Broken Social Scene (might still be). In the past few years though, I'd say "Hometowns" by The Rural Alberta Advantage.
One track that never fails you: "Banshee Beat" by Animal Collective.
Dubstep or trap?: Two years ago I would've said dubstep. Now, trap.
7777777 Life Support plays Detour Bar Friday, March 22 starting at 11pm. Catch him before he bikes off into the sunset later this spring.
Photos of Adam Golfetto by Denise McMullin. Follow Aubrey on Twitter.
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