Upon picking up the phone, Guy Chappell – one half of Yacht Club DJs – erupts into a raucous laughter down the line: “Hey man, sorry I’m just laughing at the TV, I’m watching The View and Dwayne Wade, Lebron James and Chris Bosch are on and that big black woman – the one with the skinny legs and the big rack just started dancing… she looks like a dumpling on chopsticks.”
It’s comforting when people are exactly how you imagine them to be, and most people that are aware of Yacht Club’s hyperactive, anarchistic, Speedy-Gonzales-on-cocaine brand of dance music would assume these Ballarat boys are loveable, smart-arse brats; and you wouldn’t be far from the truth. But you have to stress the word ‘loveable’ because there is a certain undeniable charm to Chappell as he answers the charge of being the Aussie bogan’s answer to Greg Gillis, aka. mash-up linchpin Girl Talk.
“We admire Girl Talk. He has built himself a pirate music empire but mash-up is a bit of a dirty word these days, everyone that liked it now thinks it has sold out,” says Chappell. “But that’s the natural ebb and flow of these things and it’s going to happen soon with Nero and Skrillex and the dubstep genre.”
Giving Chappell a leading question regarding whether or not there is much longevity in the mash-up scene he is quick to retort, “people have been listening to mash-up in one form or another since turn-tabling began in the 80s. Whether that was at hip-hop clubs or with people like Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow, so I don’t think it will die out. We don’t care about being cool, if people don’t like us by now, we’re not going to be winning over anyone.”
The ever-moving, blurred line between mash-up music and music piracy is a discussion point that sees Chappell change his tone of voice; gone is the swagger of the loveable larakin and suddenly Mr. Serious-Lawyer-DJ appears quoting legislation and legal precedent. “We’ve always been adamant to give our music away for free so I don’t feel like we are ripping anyone off,” he exclaims.
Before quickly adding: “Besides, to get a record label to clear all of our samples would be impossible because we tend to let our samples ride for a lot longer than the likes of Girl Talk. But Girl Talk is tied to the Creative Commons law in America, whereas Australia has not instituted as stringent copyright laws yet so we’re not as restrained.”
The use of the word restrained seems a bit odd in any context when discussing Yacht Club DJs, a duo that spends just as much time climbing on top of the rafters of the club they are playing and crowd surfing in water vehicles than they do actually mixing songs. As The Prodigy would say, they are the fire-starters. The mosh-pits for their mash-ups, like System of a Down ‘Aerials’ mixed with ‘Pure Shores’ by All Saints, look more like the London riots than a dance floor.
Like little Energiser bunnies fuelled on copious amounts of Red Bull, Chappell recounts the only time when he reached his partying limit: touring Australia last year in support of Friendly Fires. “I had been up for three days straight and we were on the beach in Byron Bay drawing giant dicks in the sand,” begins the DJ provocateur.
“I think we sullied a romantic sunrise for a few couples. Anyway, we caught a flight to Sydney that day and I actually thought I was going to have a heart attack. We were playing our gig in Sydney and I fell asleep standing up, my song finished and instead of mixing out I just stood there, Gaz [Harrison, partner in crime] had to prod me awake twice before I moved so he could rescue the set,” says Chappell.
Stories like this are why it’s so hard to imagine the mash-up artist with a glass of red in his hand, arm around his girlfriend watching a Robert Pattinson movie on a Sunday night, but he insists the party lifestyle is but one side of the coin. “It’s not just me, Gaz is the same, we are both quiet nerds by day. It’s a strange dichotomy I know, our life is like the antithesis of our live show, we do all that stuff because we enjoy letting our hair down and we want everyone to have a really awesome party, that’s a DJ’s job.”
But are they DJs? Many in the dance community would argue against Guy and Gaz using the title. The Vinyl connoisseurs and mixing experts; the purists that shun CDJ equipment and computer programs like Ableton and Serrate.
These people are either artists or elitists depending which side of the dance floor you boogie on, but if there’s one person who doesn’t give a fuck about the debate, it’s Guy Chappell: “I don’t even know how we got the DJ moniker but it doesn’t bother me at all. We plan our set like a band, we pick band venues to play in, the only people who seem to have a problem with it are deep tech DJs that sit on forums all day because they can’t get a gig, so fuck them.”
You can practically envision his puffed out chest as he proudly talks about We Mostly Come Out At Night…Mostly, the duo’s latest release. “We’ve done three mixes in three years but this is my favourite. The first one we just tried to hammer it with so many tracks and tricks it was a bit manic, I could only listen to it for ten minutes. The next one was too smooth and polished, it just wasn’t exciting enough, but this one I’m happy with.” He is adamant that their latest is “jussst right”.
Chappell is tight-lipped and coy about the specifics of the content, but he will tell disclose the ‘untouchable list’. That is, the samples that are just too good to be touched. “Probably John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, I think that would be enough to get you assassinated, and also ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana, but for a totally different reason,” details the Yacht Club DJ.
“We just can’t improve that track, remix it anyway you want but you’ll never get a better drop out of a rock song than the one Kurt already gives you, we just let that one go and watch the crowd destroy themselves.”
They Mostly Come Out At Night… Mostly is out now and available for download online.