Photo by Grady Brannan
Over the weekend the Saturday Night Live sketch crew, The Lonely Island, stormed back into our hearts and minds with a spot-on parody of EDM culture. The sketch took the internet by storm this week and is currently sitting pretty with a whopping 5.6 million views on YouTube. I personally have watched this video about 100 times over the last week and have shamefully been close to both soiling myself in addition to nearly bursting a gasket from prolonged gut-wrenching laugh attacks.
One of the most effective aspects of this brilliant laugh at big-money dance culture is the clip's soundtrack: The brain-pummeling anthem, "When Will The Bass Drop," plays up the predictability of EDM with a buildup that leads into a drop the kind that causes dancers to lose their minds. We've all seen it, and we've all been there and that's why the track acts is just one layer of genius in this sketch.
You may have noticed "Music by Sam F" in the YouTube description, making clear that there is indeed an actual human producer behind all this. Turns out Sam F (the F is for Fishman), is actually a pretty legit dude. The 23 year old producer lives in San Francisco and shortly after we spoke with him earlier this week, he inked a single-track deal with Universal for the tune behind it all. Turn up to death, indeed!
THUMP: Tell me how this whole thing came together. It's gone totally viral.
Sam F: I wasn't expecting anything like this and I haven't even put out the track yet and have been getting hit up by so many people. It's been crazy.
How did you originally get linked up with The Lonely Island guys?
Basically, I had a connection with The Lonely Island from a long time ago. Jorma [Taccone, of The Lonely Island] is a family friend of mine. I started producing hip-hop in high school and then eventually got EDM, being inspired by people like Lucky Date who I've been friends with for a while. I reached out to Jorma and started sending him remixes that I was doing and didn't hear back for like six months. One day he answered and said, "this is cool send more." So I sent him some more stuff and eventually he asked if I was interested in remixing some of [the The Lonely Island's] tunes. Of course I said yes, so they sent me some of their early stuff like "The Creep" and "Turtleneck & Chain" .
I remixed those and they liked it. It was mainly dubstep, trappy stuff. They invited me to come down and hang out in their new studio in L.A. It was in this crazy mansion in the Hollywood Hills. I knocked on the door and Andy Samberg came and let me in. I was like, "woah." They showed me the stuff they had been working on and asked me to do remixes their track "Yolo" with Adam Levine for an official release on Universal. I didn't really hear much after that because it came out on vinyl and didn't get too much hype but I just kept in touch. I ended up working with them on an AT&T commercial, and it was great but never aired.
How did this EDM video come out of all of this?
About a month ago they reached out and said they had an idea for a skit they wanted to do about EDM. They said they wanted an incredibly annoying track with one of those "stupid long builds." I was like "OK" [laughs]. I didn't really think much would come of it. I've worked with them a bunch and things haven't really panned out as planned, but I figured why not.
I didn't hear back for like a month and then Jorma hit me up on Wednesday [May 14] and said that they were going to move forward. I was like, holy shit SNL is on Saturday! Initially they wanted the track to be dubstep but I convinced them that if we made it a big-room track it would get way more hype. I sent them videos of Martin Garrix and DVBSS and ended up just sending them the big room version of the track and they agreed. Dubstep is kind of out of the picture for making fun of at this point.
What was your game plan going into producing the track? Was their a formula or did you get to see a treatment of the video?
I didn't see the finished video until Saturday. The finished filming it on Friday. They sent me some little clips and descriptions. I was so stressed during the whole thing! They told me to clear my schedule for the week, 24/7. I was working on the track during the whole time. The final version was actually a compilation of about four different versions I had submitted and Akikva [Schaffer] put together the final edit that aired on the show.
What about the Lil John vocals. They gave you the stems?
Yeah they recorded those on Wednesday night.
So you knew that the whole thing was making fun of EDM right?
Totally. It was satire which I thought was awesome. It was about time someone did something like that. I was making fun of myself in many ways too because I'm a button pusher as well. Someone really needed to make quality fun of overhyped, overpaid DJs.
What's it been like seeing it go viral?
It's been crazy, man. I've gotten like hundreds of friend requests. It's kind of weird. I've had some success with tracks before but nothing like this.
Is this track something you would have actually produced or did you make it just with satire in mind?
To be honest, it was something I would produce. Most of the stuff I do is big room and electro tracks. It's cool that I can make fun of EDM but also be pretty stoked on the track at the same time.
Update: Earlier version of this story said the track had been signed to Universal but the artist now says nothing has been finalized.
Catch David backstage at the next Davvincii gig. @DLGarber