David Law is a 25-year-old sound engineer and music producer. He works for an advertising agency in Johannesburg, producing jingles, radio ads, and sound designs for television.
He is a musician too, and has played bass guitar for various bands.
But David’s greatest claim to fame thus far is a dance track called “Revolutionary House”, based on Julius Malema’s outburst against BBC correspondent Jonah Fisher at a Press conference at Luthuli House, the ANC’s headquarters, last month.
Released anonymously online, the track quickly went viral, becoming a huge hit at clubs and parties across the land. It’s time for David Law to stop being anonymous. I asked him a few questions about his work, and his masterpiece, which you can listen to again or download right here.
Well let’s face it, Malema’s little f%$# out was both awesomely unique and classic. It was on the cards for quite some time.
The press and media were compounding the problem and he was revelling in the attention for a time, until the pressure caught up with him and he inevitably snapped.
“Thanks captain obvious,” you might say, but I jumped at the opportunity to parody a clown – how much more entertainment could you ask for.
I sampled his voice from that fateful press conference and placed the samples on the beat, using only the words which really stood out for me and that would immediately be recognizable as a piece from that press conference. That’s how we make a hit, kids.
Please could you tell me a little about the process of making the track. Did you use an existing dance track as a foundation, or did you craft the track from a variety of other sources or samples? What software did you use to make the track?
I’m a sound engineer by profession and work at an ad agency, I have a musical background and I produce jingles for radio and T.V. ads as well.
I have been producing music for about 8 years now. I used a carefully chosen library music track and worked out the BPM (beats per minute) of the track, I then sifted through the Malema audio clip and strategically placed the appropriate samples in an order both pleasing to the ear and in a humurous way-all for the lags.
I used a combination of reason 4, a MIDI based software platform, and ProTools, a wave editing software package by digidesign.
It’s basically a matter of moving samples around the beat until you’re happy with the groove it’s creating, using your ears and intuition to decipher whether it’s working or not.
How long did it take you to make the track?
It took a morning, about 3-4 hours. I initially did two versions, 1 for web viral and the other for radio airplay, with a less controversial speech bit in the break.
To what extent did you manipulate Malema’s voice in the samples? For instance, the opening “Bloody” of “Bloody agent” sounds as if it’s been stretched for effect?
I did have to manipulate some of the samples to get it working with the beat. Some were too short, while others needed to be compressed, a process in audio terms called timestretching.
I used a combination of plug-ins on each audio track within my ProTools session. Also to make Malema sound like a dumbass, no arguments there.
Did you deliberately choose to remain anonymous initially, and how did you start “seeding” the track on the Internet?
The parody was initially intended to be an internal joke, but off the bat the response from friends and family was so awesome that I decided to get it to the appropriate radio stations.
Gareth Cliff played it first after having spoken with his publisher, he digged it and agreed to play it, then Fresh, then I spammed the inboxes of numerous other radio personalities.
With that kind of exposure, it started gathering momentum and lank cats knew about it, creating hype, from that point we made a viral video and other videos were made and posted on youtube.
Remaining anonymous was a strategic move, making it seem a little more underground and mysterious and also cos I didn’t want to deal with any ANCYL repurcussions. I enjoy breathing.
When did you first realise that the track was going viral online, and how did that make you feel?
It went viral in a matter of days and and yet was still relevant to the occurence, two days later. That’s why I’ll maintain the timing of making these sorts of tracks is imperative, cos someone is gonna jump on the topic pretty quickly.
It felt rad to check the worldwide response to the track, with a lot of dudes requesting the full version on blogs, dropping comments on facebook and youtube etc.
Although you have made your track available for download freely online, do you have any commercial ambitions for its release or use in other areas, such as compilations, etc.?
“Revolutionary House” has maintained its viral status and therefore cannot be commercially released.
The only purpose of the track in its current format is to expose Malema to the world and make people aware of what’s going on in S.A. It is also nice to have on your resume as a musician, lank exposure, helping the cause with future prospects. Big up to all yall music labels.
How many different versions of the track did you make before releasing it online? Did you try it with other musical styles or samples, etc.?
I initially tried a bunch of different tracks, but it’s important to get the right feeling from the music you choose.
So the funky groove of the house track created a good mood, light-hearted, not taking life too seriously. The track just jumped out at me and it was the most appropriate music genre to manipulate samples to.
As I mentioned earlier, I did two versions, only changing the sample in the last break, but still using that same backtrack as what most of you know as the “Revolutionary House” viral track.
Have you had any feedback or recognition at all from the African National Congress Youth League?
Surprisingly and fortunately not. I don’t need juvenile, irrational and sociopathic “tendencies” on my ass.
Looking back, what did you really hope to achieve by mixing and releasing the track?
Off the bat, I was only intending to make light of the situation, have a laugh and give it to close friends and family. I was very surprised to check how much worldwide coverage it got, even to the point where international newspapers like the LA Times have done articles on it. Radness.
Are you currently playing in a band? If so, please tell us a bit about it – name, musical style, gigs, etc.
Not currently, my real job takes up most of my time, though I have played in local bands, namely “Jam on Tuesday” or JOT and more recently with “China White”.
What would you say this track has meant to your own career?
It’s hopefully gonna springboard my career as a musician and as a sound engineer in my personal capacity as your reputation is very important in advertising.
Possibly get a few more nods when it comes to record label interest and signing my own material. This type of hype and worldwide exposure gives credibility to an artist and his intellectual property. Did I mention I love you Sony, well if not then…..I love you Sony.
What sort of music do you personally enjoy listening to?
Breakbeats, Drum and bass, old school hip hop, I dig alternative and rock – the likes of radiohead, pearl jam, RHCP, MGMT, Phoenix Amadeus Wolfgang etc even some electro dance stuff.
I don’t like to limit it, music is subjective and pretty personal. It’s safe to say that I dig everything as long as it stirs my soul.
Have you made any other mixes based on recent political events or politicians in this country?
I did a version of “touch me on my studio” as well as that Zuma track I mentioned earlier and many others.
I started my career in radio about 5 years back and have been making these parody songs ever since. It’s such an awesome creative outlet and I won’t stop until I cross the line one day and get arrested or one of those bladdy agent bastards with rubbish in his trouser finds me….until that day you can jump….
Hope I’ve shed some light and let you in to the world of parodies, as long as we have politicians like Malema in this country the material will keep flowing. Watch this space. Big up.