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The Guy Who Remixed Human League's 'Don't You Want Me' Is Working on a Remix to Aqua's 'Barbie Girl'

New viral celebrity svantana on his viral remix, the "Mom's Spaghetti" remix of Eminem, and his next remix, an "EDM" version of Aqua's 1997 hit "Barbie Girl."

All photos courtesy of svantana

Last week, Youtube user svantana released a remix of Human League's 1981 classic song "Don't You Want Me" distilled to its essential line "working in a cocktail bar"—repeated over and over again.

Since then, the intensely vocation-focused video has racked up over a quarter million views and been praised as "so dumb it's genius," "significantly better" than the original, and "perfect."

I Skyped with svantana, who lives in Sweden, about why he chose that line specifically, how to make viral comedy gold (repetition, specificity, confusion, and surprise), and what he's working on next: an "EDM" remix to Aqua's 1997 hit "Barbie Girl."


VICE: Has your inbox been blowing up?
svantana: You're actually the first person who wanted to ask me about it personally. People [seem to] want to just take it at face value for what it is. I put that video up like a week ago. It's funny how things go viral because I just shared it on my Facebook and some friends of mine shared it on theirs, and it just took off from there.

So, why that line specifically?
I was just listening to the radio, and that song came on. It opens up like that and it's kind of convoluted. [The line]'s a bit forced the whole thing, and then the female voice comes back and says it again. So I was going to do this back-and-forth thing where they just tell each other [that] line. But then I realized it's more funny to just make the whole song go like that. I've been doing some other remixes—I don't put all my stuff online—but I do some stuff to play in clubs where I like mess around with the vocals and pitch.

Another thing I like is the element of surprise. I like whenever a remix starts out just like the original, and then more and more you start to realize that this is not actually the original. Something weird is going on.

YouTube user svantana

You said it took about an hour to make.
Yeah. Once you get used to these tools, it's not that hard. You just copy/paste and start editing the pitch and things. If it was ten years ago, it would probably would take a whole day. But the tools have become so good right now. No one would try to make this remix ten years ago because it would be too much effort. You wouldn't know if it'd be any fun until you were done. But now I can just be like, "Oh, whatever, I have an hour to spare. I'll just fire up my software and just mess around for a bit."


Are there any examples of remixes that didn't make the cut?
I've done a lot of remixes that I'm really proud of, but you can't hear them because all these cloud sites have all these content-infringement things. So they're blocked by Universal record companies and so forth. At first I put [the Human League] one up on Soundcloud, but they just rejected it right away. So the next move was like, "OK, let's try Youtube," and that worked out. You never really know where you can put your stuff.

So that's a bit of a bummer because I have a bunch of them that I really like. But I don't really know how to share them with the world. I did this one thing with—you remember this 90s song "Barbie Girl"? I did it a while back. It started out normal and then I just started cutting up the vocals more and more and it became like more like EDM… It's kind of hard to explain.

You find that one thing that is kind of weird and you don't get how that turned up in a popular song and you just overdo it until it's really funny. –svantana

Do you have any particular affinity for cocktail bars?
[Laughs] Not really. I just like lyrics that are descriptive. I find a lot of pop songs are based around these very few standard phrases like, "Yeah, I love you," and so forth, "You mean everything to me," and blah blah blah. I like these songs where you paint a picture with your words and describe a scene. The humor of that track just came about from the fact that it is such an unusual line to have in such a big hit song.


It's so specific.

Do you remember that song by the band Das Racist, about the combination Pizza Hut Taco Bell?
Yeah, yeah. Another one's this song "Mom's Spaghetti" by Eminem. It wasn't me, but it's quite similar to mine actually—I just realized that the other day. They took this one 8 Mile [song] "Lose Yourself." On the beginning of the track he raps about being nervous, so nervous that he throws up. There's vomit on his sweater already—Mom's spaghetti. And that was such a weird thing to have in an amp-up song. So [the YouTube user] took that Mom's spaghetti part and just put it on every line in the whole song. And that's turned into three million views on YouTube. It's very similar how you find that one thing that is kind of weird and you don't get how that turned up in a popular song and you just overdo it until it's really funny.

May I ask what you do for work?
I actually work with audio technology. Right now I'm working on this iPhone app. It's a DJ app called Pacemaker. It's for iPhone and iPad where you can mix records from Spotify or from your device. What we're doing now is that we're putting in so you don't actually have to mix yourself, the app will mix for you so you just choose tracks and it will mix them for you.

As a person who remixes your own tracks, do you fear that an app like that will one day put you out of business?
[Laughs] Well, actually I want to have better tools. I don't want to have an idea and then spend 20 hours just getting it to work. I just want to have my computer. I just want to tell my computer like this is what I want and it will just fix it for me. The idea is the whole point, and you just need to know your tools good enough to actually be able to do it. But that's not the hard part, really. I find that better software will make these types of things even better.


Did you send this remix to your parents?
Actually, no. The problem with this type of remix [is], if you're not familiar with the original song then it just makes no sense at all. I tried to play it for some older friends, my girlfriend's mother, for example, and she was like, "OK, what's going on here?"

Another funny thing [is that] it kind of seems like it's a male thing actually. On Youtube you can look at analytics and I can see that it's like 85 percent males who listen to the track. All the people who reached out to me and said, "Oh, I love this track," are also guys. My girlfriend was like, "OK. It's fun, but it's not that funny." There seems to be something about guys and this type of joke or mix or what you want to call it.

I [also] do a lot of stuff in the Swedish language so that probably wouldn't be too funny to you. That's just something I do to amuse my friends.

Anything else the VICE readers might like to know about you or this remix?
Some people getting in touch have told me they like this remix because they can just put it on without saying anything, like in a party, and just watch the reaction. That's something I find quite funny. I need to try that myself. Just because it starts off like normal, and a lot of times it just sounds like the song. But it gets people [to be] like, "What the fuck's going on?" That's kind of a… cute way to use music? Something like that.

Follow James Yeh on Twitter.