A couple of weeks ago I came across a very special video. It was one man's interpretation of what Jeremy Clarkson would sound like if he was an instrument. This discovery doesn’t make me special in anyway, the video was a couple of years old and over one and a quarter million people had already had the revelation that Swede Mason’s Jeremy Clarkson Beatbox was an editing masterpiece. And it wasn’t just plebs like you and me, comedy royalty Richard Herring and TV’s fun but embarrassing uncle Jonathan Ross deigned to pass it on to their army of twitter followers. Then last week Swede dropped his latest mash up on his eager public. Within seven days Masterchef Synesthesia had become a viral phenomenon clocking a best part of a million views.
Curios about the man who created all this quality output I wanted to find out more. But searching the ‘net for snippets of info from third parties can be misleading and a frankly a bit boring, You’re better off getting it straight from the horses mouth. So I did…
Who is Swede Mason?
I’m a 31-year-old man who lives in London and makes mash up videos.
You don’t give much away…
OK I used to live in Skipton, north Yorkshire.
I’ve been, it’s a lovely place but there’s not a great deal to do. Is that where you honed your skills?
Yeah I got started when I was 19 there wasn’t much for my mates and I to do except cannabis and recording TV. So we made the most out of the lack of other distractions.
There’re no photos of you out there, do you value your anonymity?
I do actually. I’m going to try and keep my head as low as I can. I don’t fancy loads of pictures of me being all over the Internet. The idea of being that recognisable scares me a bit if I’m being honest.
How do you plan to promote yourself while keeping that part of you life secret?
Through sticking to the Internet at the moment. I’m working on a live show but I’m not ready to launch that yet. That’s the ultimate goal but I don’t want to just stand there pressing buttons otherwise you may as well watch it on youtube. I’ve got a few ideas about how I want to do it hopefully I’ll find a way where I don’t expose myself too much.
How far away do you think you are from having a live show?
It’s difficult to put a timescale on it. I’m in the process of building up funds and getting enough time off work so I can get on it and develop a full live show. I’m not quite in a position to give up the day job yet.
When I was 19 there wasn’t much for my mates and I to do except cannabis and recording TV. So we made the most out of the lack of other distractions.
What’s your day job?
I’m a plasterer/labourer/cowboy builder by trade. I want to be able to do my music full time but at the same time I work in a lot of derelict houses that are completely gutted and that time away from everything can be really relaxing.
So you use the day job to get away from editing?
Don’t get me wrong it’s work. I’ve still got to pay my rent, but sometimes it’s nice to stare at a wall for 8 hours after I’ve been stressing at my computer all day.
Do the guys you work with know what you get up to in your spare time?
Yeah they’re well chuffed, they can’t believe it. Then again nor can I. The other day in the time it took me to plaster a wall one of my videos got 2,500 hits. It’s mad.
How did you get started?
In the old days I used to tape everything I watched onto VHS and then transfer the samples I wanted onto DVD. I always thought you could make music out of anything so I’d trawl the telly for samples that fit with the ideas I’d had.
Have you got a wall of VHS tapes with years of telly on them?
Hardly, I was always re-recorded on the same tape. The footage got progressively worse. You can see it on the Clarkson Beatbox, it’s VHS grainy and the sound isn’t great. Now I’ve got rewind-able TV connected to a hard drive so when I see something I like I stick it on DVD or download a series, the quality is pretty decent.
Your videos look bloody complicated. How did you get to that level of expertise?
I taught myself. I got a computer with iMovie on it and started messing about thinking up tunes and synching up the video. It’s all about spotting the samples, knowing what you can do and manipulating them. With the likes of Sky+, Tevo and the other digi boxes out there these days I’m surprised more people don’t do it.
How do you choose your targets?
It’ not very scientific usually I’ll be watching telly a bit mashed and something will just stand out.
How long does one of your mash ups take to create?
It’s hard to say. You have to spend a lot of time watching stuff. For the Master Chef one I watched a whole series, which took a month. I was watching episodes every morning before I went to work. When I got in front of a wall I’d think about the bits I’d want to nick and what I’d do with them.
I heard the ‘buttery biscuit base’ bit and thought of something I could do, got started then got stuck and had to shelve it for about a year because I was sick of it. After a while you can’t tell if anything’s good because you’ve watched it so many times, it does your head in. The breakthrough came when I returned to it a few of weeks ago, learnt how to make a wobble base on a youtube tutorial, added the sample and was able to finish it. I don’t know how many man-hours I spent on it but from watching the first episode to finishing the video was well over a year.
I used to make the mash ups one at a time but as they get more complicated I find it better to do a few at the same time.
In the time it took me to plaster a wall one of my videos got 2,500 hits. It’s mad.
Have you had any reaction from the people you’ve done a mash up of?
Only for ‘Schofield on Crack’ so far. A Philip Schofield fan saw the video, took offense to it and grassed me up to Thames TV who demanded I remove it from youtube. Then a few weeks later the Schofield super fan sent me an email saying that Phil actually quite likes it. Luckily someone else posted it online as well so it’s still out there.
Of all the mash ups you’ve done so far which is your favourite?
I’d have to say ‘Bill Wyman’s Meal Detector’ because I love Bill Wyman.
‘Bill Wyman’s Metal Detector’, I’d buy one. Is there anyone you would do adverts for?
It would have to be for a ridiculous product. I’ve been considering doing one for Acorn Stairlifts but I’m not sure about doing proper adverts. I don’t want to be responsible for another ‘We Buy Any Car’ or anything like that.
If you could do a fantasy mash up of anyone dead or alive with all the footage you need who would you give the Swede Mason treatment?
It’s sounds obvious but I’d love to have a go at Rolf Harris. He’s like the original beatboxer isn’t he? Everybody loves Rolf, I wouldn’t take the piss out of him it would be more of a homage.
What can we expect next from Swede Mason?
More of the same really. I’ve got a few ideas that I don’t want to give away yet. but I’ll keep doing what I want and hopefully people will like it but even if they don’t I’ll still put more stuff up.
lick here for more People stories
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook