Interview with Silence7 from Beastiemixes.com
[Conducted in January 2008 by Mike (Big Fat Love)]
Can you give those of us who don't know you a general intro?
Hi, I'm Silence7, I run Beastiemixes.com and I'm a remix-a-holic.
Beastiemixes was launched on February 2nd 2006 to host remixes free of charge, for DJ's remixing Beastie Boys songs, so they could focus on their next remix and not have to worry about where they were going to upload it to.
So where does "Silence7" come from?
When I signed up for my current internet service, I actually wanted a different name, and it was already taken unless I wanted to add a bunch of numbers to the end of it. So I looked over, and I had a Silence Snowboards hat and I asked for Silence as my username. Already taken but I could have Silence2, Bah... I said give me Silence7, at least 7 is lucky. I thought it sounded kinda' cool so I started using it in forums etc. I've gone by a couple names over the years but this is the one most people know me by. Boring story, but true. ( I don't snowboard BTW)
When did the idea first occur to you to set up a remix site?
Around January 2006 I started pushing the idea around and talked to a few friends about it, saying that I just wanted to host a few DJ's to help them out. So I put up this very basic site, without ever thinking that it would evolve into the monster that it is today. That basic design stayed up for about a year.
What was your first exposure to the Beastie Boys' music?
7th grade (I'm 37 now, you do the math) on the bus ride to school there was a kid who always brought a boom box, the first Beastie Boys song I heard was No Sleep Til' Brooklyn. I was hooked. The only other rap song I had heard before that day was Sugarhill Gang's Rapper's Delight.
Was your original idea to host remixes and you chose the Beasties, or did you create the site specifically to host Beastie mixes?
Since I mainly collected Beastie Boys remixes, and lurked the Beastie Boys remix boards quite frequently, I knew the site would be Beastie specific from the first time the thought entered my head.
Why did you create the site at the onset?
I actually have a few reasons.
1) I'm sure I was as tired of searching for mixes that had been deleted by temporary file hosting sites, as the DJ's were of re-uploading to those sites every few weeks when they got deleted.
2) I wanted to pay back the DJ's for all the hard work they had done. Work that too often they don't get thanked for.
3) There was really no central place someone could reliably come and download a BUNCH of Beastie Boys remixes/mashups and be able to come back a week from then and find even more than the last time they where there.
What has motivated you to continue to spend so much time maintaining the site?
Sometimes I ask myself this question. But the answer is always the same, the friends I've made along the way, and the music.
How much of your personal time is invested in meeting the needs of all of those DJ's you host?
There are far too many nights I have gone to sleep at 4am and thought I didn't do enough today. Every time I think it's slowing down a bit, we get a new DJ, or a guy drops a new mixtape. Initially it was really bad, new DJ's every week, and since the TT5B pellas were relatively fresh, there were tons of mixes coming in all the time. It was very hectic and stressful. I still spend a ton of time on the site, uploading new mixes, promoting the site, answering e-mails, I've also designed all but about 4 of the 75 DJ headers which sometimes takes a while, as I like to try and design them in a way that I hope will make the DJ feel that this is his space.
How does your family/girlfriend feel about the site?
I really don't think they "get" what it is that I'm doing. They seem to think it's interesting, but the whole remix/mashup thing just doesn't really interest them. They're very supportive, but they don't really seem to know what it is they're supporting.
Who helps you maintain the site? What is their role?
Help? It's just me over here. Actually I did get some outside help when it came time to launch Version 2 of the site. I had a good friend (DBguy) come in and spend a couple looong days doing all the back-end work so that I could get all the mixes put into a database. This was done so that we could have stats for the DJ's, download counts etc. He also wrote some nice tools for me to make it easier to update the site.
How many emails do you get in a week? Do you read them all personally?
I read and answer all the e-mail that comes in. It's actually not a lot, maybe 15-20 a week. I encourage visitors to send e-mail to the DJ's as opposed to sending them to me. It's their hard work that I want to showcase, not mine.
How about the remixes? Do you listen to each one?
Yes I do. Boiled down, the ritual is, Go to work, Work, Take care of things on the way home, Come home, Walk in the door, Computer on, Download mixes, Listen to mixes, Fix ID3 tags. Upload mixes, Add mixes to Database, Add news of new mixes to front page, Listen to mixes again. It's like Christmas almost every day. Part of it is quality control, I want to make sure the mix is complete and there were no problems during the upload etc. I do not discriminate however between good mixes and bad mixes, It's more a matter of making sure that the file is complete. I will say though that I have sent a few notes over the last 2 years asking if the DJ really wanted a particular mix on his page or did he think he might want to tweak it a little before I put it up.
Why do you do it?
This is kind of covered in the "What has motivated you......." question, but I will add, that I enjoy running the site, I like to see the DJ's numbers go up, I like the guys I work with (the DJ's) And I feel I'm offering a service to the guys who have provided us all with high quality mixes. Basically I do it because I can, and if you're making mixes you shouldn't have to build your own site to get them hosted, you can if you like but you shouldn't have to. There are free photo hosting sites, free e-mail sites, and now a Free Beastie Boys remix hosting site. Now if I could just get someone to host the actual site for free, now then we'd have something!
On the site you have a list of all the mixes you have collected, how do you keep track of all of them?
Except for the un-sorted mixes (haven't had time to sort them), usually I make a new folder for a DJ who has more than 1 mix out, and I drop their mixes in there. I would like to add a little side note to any DJ's out there reading this. Naming your remix, "themove(remix).mp3" is not helpful. About a month after launching the site I instituted a rule that when the DJ uploaded mixes the filename had to have the Original Song Name_Remix Name if any_Remixer's Name.mp3 (I know that all my guys are laughing right now) that way when people download their mixes there's no confusion as to who mixed it. Hosted at Beastiemixes or not, it's a good practice.
How do find all of the remixes you get off of the web? Do you have any advice for those of us who are just getting started?
Trolling various forums. There are more mashup/remix forums now than there ever has been. My advice for someone getting started collecting? Beastiemixes.com, and always thank your DJ!!! Seriously, keep your collection organized, and if you download a mix that the DJ hasn't added his name to the filename, do it yourself, it will help avoid situations where you're not sure if you have X mix from X DJ. Lots of guys will upload their mixes to a temporary file site and name their file remix3.mp3, when you download these mixes, now is the time to put his/her name, mix name, and any other information the DJ may have given about this mix into the filename and or ID3 tags, because you won't remember it later.
How often do you get requests from fans of the site to find a particular remix for them?
Every so often, and I do what I can to help. The new search function on the site helps also. Looking through server logs has shown me that people often "Google" for specific mixes or particular DJ's and end up on the site.
How do you choose who you do and do not host? Does it ever come down to the quality of the mixes, or is it a free for all?
I will host anyone who asks. I didn't start the site to only host good remixes, or remixes from DJ's I liked. About six months ago I did finally institute a Three-mix policy, as it's just too much work to put up a page for someone who may only do one remix.
Do you usually contact the DJ's or do they request to be hosted?
All of the DJ's but two asked to be hosted. The couple I asked to host were DJ's who seemed to be having trouble with their own websites and I asked if I could help because I respected these DJ's and didn't want to see their mixes disappearing from the internet.
Are there any DJ's you are trying to convince to let you host them?
I would re-phrase the question, I'm not currently pursuing any particular DJ's, but there are a few guys who I would love to host but they have their own sites. Taco Zip, Phosphoros, Innuendo, Prof. D, The Mighty Ajax, and maybe a couple more.
Are there any remixes you are desperately looking for?
I don't really have to hunt down mixes anymore. :-) There are however untold numbers of mixes that were put online before I started collecting, and then disappeared from the internet. I'm hoping that the site will help solve this problem for future collectors.
How about some statistics? How many DJ's do you host? How many tracks do you have available on the site / in your personal collection? Downloads (total & per week)?
As of today (Jan 21st 2008) we have 75 DJ's and 1367 remixes ready to download.
Since the 2.0 re-launch of the site 7 months ago 37,609 downloads from DJ pages alone.
The site averages about 800 remix downloads a week, not counting live shows, rare tracks and older contest mixes.
Total downloads is kind of hard to say since the tracking software I use for those stats uses a rolling 12 months. so 380,649 mp3 downloads from Jan 7th 2007 to Jan 20th 2008. 690+gb This includes every mp3 on the site, not just DJ pages.
Remixes in my personal collection? I just did a search of the folder I keep them in, and it showed 2283. I keep some of the contest and special mixes elsewhere so that number may be a little off.
How much traffic do you get on the site?
We get about 100 unique visitors a day. I know it seems low, but it is a very specific, focused site. It's not like Google, it doesn't have everything, it has only a few things. People have to be looking for Beastie Boys remixes to end up on my site. If we had one visitor a day I'd be pretty happy that one guy was able to find the mix he was looking for.
I know it's like asking to pick a favorite child, but do you have a favorite remixer / remix?
Yes I do have a favorite remixer, and yes I do have a favorite mix. I will not elaborate. I will however say that the Beastiemixes Rap project a few of the guys collaborated on was pretty impressive, although not truly a Beastie Boys remix, I was proud that the site facilitated 8 guys coming together to produce a couple songs that paid tribute to the community that they built. The other remixes that I really appreciate are the ones that guys have done for me personally. They make me all warm and fuzzy inside.
What are your impressions on the current Beastie remix scene? Do the DJ's want more A Capellas, a new album, or what...
I will admit that it has slowed down quite a bit. There's only so much you can do with the pellas the Beastie Boys have provided so far. Once a DJ has mixed the same song 10 or 15 times, I'm sure it starts to get boring. The guys I've talked to about it personally and in the forums would all like to continue to remix Beastie Boys music, but the lack of new pellas has slowed them down considerably. A new album would be great, but in the meantime pellas of old tracks would be great, we know they have them buried in "The Archives" we've heard mention of these archives and would love to see them re-institute the releasing of one new pella per week like they did before.
There are however new DJ's discovering the pellas currently available every day and giving them fresh sounds. I've not had as much free time as I once had, but I've checked out some of these new guys and been pleasantly surprised.
Do you ever go to sleep at night and dream of being asked by the Beasties to help them with a collection of fan remixes?
Good question. No, although I would be all over that project if asked. I've thought that it would be great to get maybe an exclusive pella for the guys on the site to mix, or even a note from the Beasties acknowledging what the guys are doing with the pellas that they have put out already. The remixers seem to be doing all of this work and nobody really knows if the actual Beasties have heard even one track.
Any shout outs?
DBguy, Thanks for the help with 2.0! Ma, Pa, Sis. T.L., and most importantly all of my hosted guys! I know I've told you before, but you guys are the best!! You guys have treated me with much respect and I hope you feel that I have returned the favor. A big thanks to Beastiemania! You guys are like the Beastie Encyclopedia for me.