Nobody can make rock tracks sound as good in dance remixes as Matthew Masurka—you know him as Gigamesh.
The DJ and producer, known for his remixes of Fleetwood Mac, Yo La Tengo and Radiohead, is returning to the second Splash House of the summer, taking place Aug. 11-13.
His best-known works are probably his remix of Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” and his production of Mike Posner’s “Cooler Than Me.” As a DJ, he’s played to crowds all around the world.
“I’ve always been into electronic music,” Gigamesh said during a recent phone interview. “It’s the stuff I listen to the most. Middle school and high school for me was Daft Punk and DJ Shadow, and I listened to a lot of Radiohead, who I think are electronic musicians, in a sense. I was always attracted to it, and I’ve always been an independent-minded person when it comes to working on music, so it’s always been a natural fit for me.”
Gigamesh takes a lighter hand with some of his remixes. For instance, if you’re not paying attention, you may not realize you’re not listening to the original version of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough”—even though there are big differences, including the drums being set to a house beat. Gigamesh explained how he came to remix older rock and R&B tracks.
“For all that stuff, I’m driven to do it, because they are songs I want to play in my sets,” he said. “A lot of those remixes are three to four years old, before I was really touring. I was in Minneapolis, where I grew up, and wanted to play stuff that appealed to everyone in the room. It would usually be small gigs and a wide variety of ages. I wanted to play something I considered classic, timeless and great, music that didn’t necessarily fit in a set of house and whatever else I was playing—things that didn’t have drums, that were heavy enough and things that wouldn’t be easy to mix in and out of. I was basically just making what some people would consider edits, and I would go a step further and add my own synths and things like that.”
Of course, Gigamesh also remixes works by modern pop artists.
“I recently did a remix for Miley Cyrus,” he said. “This dude asked me if I’d ever do one for her. A few years ago, I would have said no, because she’s kind of a divisive figure, and she’s so blatantly a pop star. But as I listened to the vocal track, I started to get into it. She’s a good vocalist, and part of the fun of remixing is taking something I might not necessarily be into right away, and turning it into something that I do enjoy. I like the vocal on its own, and it was just a matter of re-harmonizing it, and playing around with the tempo and different beats to make it into something I liked. I ended up going back and forth with her management for a while to land on something we were all happy with. It wasn’t the most challenging, but I went through quite a few different versions before I had the final version.”
Gigamesh said that he never knows for sure what a crowd will like before he starts his set.
“It’s really tough to gauge ahead of time, especially with a big festival and a huge crowd—especially if it’s somewhere like South America or Europe, and they want to hear disco or stuff that isn’t so commercialized,” he said. “But then I might play somewhere the next night, and (more commercial music) is exactly what the crowd wants to hear. That’s happened before, and toward the middle of my set, I’ll notice they aren’t feeling it, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. I’ve also been forced sometimes to play to the people in the room or at the festival who are enjoying it the most, versus the people in the front, who just came to hear my remixes and originals. Those are the people I want to make happy the most.”
There are always new remixes coming from Gigamesh, of course.
“I have two completed singles, and I’m working on a release plan for them right now, and hopefully they’ll be out in the next few months,” he said. “I have a few remixes that I just released: one (“Malibu”) for Miley Cyrus, and one (“Fake Magic”) for Peking Duk, with AlunaGeorge as the featured vocalist.”
Gigamesh has played Splash House before, and he said he likes the concept of the festival.
“I think it’s awesome,” he said. “It’s a cool tradition, and a lot of people go every year, and it’s an interesting location, because it’s always unbearably hot, but you’re right next to a pool, and it forces people to enjoy the pool versus standing around trying to look cool.”
Splash House’s August edition takes place Friday, Aug. 11, through Sunday, Aug. 13. General admission passes start at $135. For more information, visit www.splashhouse.com.