It's a Remix, Not a Mash Up
Mixing Tunes, Gold Chains, and Day Jobs
Published: Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 19:08
Max Tannone, formerly known as Minty Fresh Beats, is the 25-year-old responsible for 2009's Jay-Z and Radiohead remix album, Jaydiohead. Two years later, while holding down a day job, the DJ is still mixing things up with projects that have included collaborations with the Beastie Boys and Brooklyn rap artist, Richard Rich.
Tannone recently finished Ghostfunk, a remix of Ghostface Killah and funk beats.
Advocate: How did you get started? A lot of us found you because of Stereogum.com, back when the Jaydiohead album first came out.
Max Tannone: I used to DJ back in high school—dances and parties in my town. I started experimenting with creating music. This was back when The Neptunes were really dominating the R&B scene back in 2000 or 2001, and I really wanted to learn how to do that—making a hip-hop beat—so I got a computer and just started messing around with it.
As far as mixing Jay-Z and Radiohead, I was just bored and decided to do it one day. I kind of sat on it for a year and then I thought of the name for it. I figured that I should just do a whole project on it.
A: So, how did you come up with your moniker, Minty Fresh Beats?
MT: Well, it's funny because I actually don't really use it anymore. I got a cease-and-desist letter from Minty Fresh Records in Chicago.
After I did the Jaydiohead thing, they sent a letter to my house. It was from a law firm and they said I had to stop using the name or they were going to sue me. All it amounted to was my MySpace page and what I had written on the cover of the Jaydiohead thing. As for where I got it, I don't really know. I just made it up when I was 15 and was using it as my screen name and stuff. Now I just use my regular name.
A: So, did you hear from either of the bands about what you did with the Jaydiohead album?
MT: I never heard anything from Radiohead, but Jay-Z tweeted that he liked it, which was really cool. It was really crazy when I first saw that…just knowing that I reached him. It's just a testament to the power of social media and the internet.
A: Can you talk about what you've been doing since Jaydiohead?
MT: Well, Jaydiohead came out at the beginning of 2009, and since then I've been doing more remix projects. I really shy away from the term "mashup" just because I kind of wince when I hear it. I feel like it carries a negative connotation.
I mean, you can call it whatever you want, but I guess I'm trying to bridge the line between a mashup and a remix.
After Jaydiohead, I did a project for the Beastie Boys. They reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in doing a similar project taking all the source material from their Check Your Head record. I took the songs that were more instrumental and used those as the base and put a cappellas from their more rap-style songs over the beats. I called it, Double Check Your Head.
A: Have there been any other notable projects?
MT: I did this other project called Mos Dub, which was Mos Def and dub music—Jamaican instrumental reggae music. Pretty much from the 70s, which was fun. I also did a project called Dub Kweli, which was dub music and Talib Kweli, who works a lot with Mos Def.
A: Do you have any music genres that you wouldn't be caught dead listening to?
MT: I don't know. I'm not embarrassed by anything. Well, this is kind of cliché, but I don't really listen to any country. Other than that, I don't know. If I was dead and listening to country music, I don't know that I'd be upset. Caught me– I'm making a joke.
A: So, what is your background outside of music? Did you go to university or do you have a job on the side?
MT: I went to school to study information technology, but I decided I didn't want to work in that field when I graduated. I did the whole cubicle thing, and I just wasn't happy. I didn't know what I wanted to do. I mean, I know what I want to do now—I want to live off music—but I'm still figuring it out. I didn't get a job off my degree. If the music thing doesn't work out, I might have to. I support college. College is great, but you have to do what makes you happy.