Baauer’s track “Harlem Shake” certainly caught the attention of the universe when the trappy hit went viral through a collection of silly videos. It was fun for a little while, but then just managed to get on everyone’s nerves and the novelty quickly wore off. One person you’d assume wouldn’t mind the attention is the young New York based producer, who would have been basking in the fruits of his sudden stardom.
But hold up, in an interview released over the weekend via Pitchfork, Baauer revealed his somewhat disdain for the song and the lack of financial gain that one would assume came with such a hit. As we covered previously, pursuant to a number of legal battles concerning the use of vocals from Plastic Little rapper Jayson Musson and reggaeton artist Hector Delgado, Baauer now faces a lengthy stint in the courts. Consequently, he hasn’t received any money yet! Dang.
Pitchfork: Have you made a lot of money from [“Harlem Shake”]?
Baauer: I still don’t know. I haven’t seen any money from it.
Pitchfork: Why is that?
Baauer: I’m meeting with my lawyer tomorrow for lunch, so I’m gonna find that out. I think it’s mostly because of all the legal shit. I didn’t clear the samples because I was in my fucking bedroom on Grand Street. I wasn’t going to think to call up [Delgado], I didn’t even know who it was who did that [sample]; I knew the Jayson Musson [sample]. So I found myself in that fucking pickle. Legal letters and shit. Ugh. Lawyers. So exposure-wise it was fantastic, but everything else…
The interview somewhat arouses sympathy for the upcoming producer who on the surface seems to have been shortchanged. But look, things can’t be that bad for the guy. His name is now synonymous in dance circles, has played a significant role in promoting the “trap” scene and the Mad Decent label. He’d be wracking up the appearances and sets at clubs and festivals around the world earning a pretty penny fo sho. Additionally, the song has allowed him to work with esteemed producers such as Just Blaze (whom you can catch at Listen Out) and may open up future collaborative relationships. He sites A$AP Ferg, Cashmere Cat, Ryan Hemsworth and Arca as artists he liked to team up with creatively, which would be a big bowl of cool.
Our biggest fear is that his sets in the future would be curated purely around the mega-hit, yet we’re comforted by the fact that he’s grown weary of the song just as we have… well as some of us have.
Pitchfork: Do you feel like people are always going to expect you to play it?
B: That’s just the way it is. Sometimes, when I don’t play it, people get really mad. I didn’t play it in Amsterdam and I overheard two people who were like, “Oh, did you hear he didn’t play ‘Harlem Shake’?” “Agh, that’s what he’s getting paid for!” But whatever, fuck ’em.
At this point, I’m trying to go from playing the original, to just playing a remix, to maybe putting in one little clip– sort of weening off of it until I can eventually not play it at all. That would be the perfect thing.
It’s time for people to move on. This guy has great potential as a producer and DJ, with an already solid résumé of remixes and originals. His sets are pretty tight and are an excuse to have to pretty darn good time. We just hope this whole series of events hasn’t scared him off from producing more content. He seems pretty comfortable with where he’s at though and is ready to make music for himself and not the masses.
Pitchfork: Do you feel pressure to repeat its success now?
B: No. I genuinely don’t feel that at all. I got a little taste of what it’s like to have a song in that stratosphere and I can truthfully tell you that I’m happy with that being the only time it happens. I don’t want that shit. Of course, I want to be able to get work and for people to like my music– the best thing I can do is to keep making music I like and, because of “Harlem Shake”, maybe people who otherwise would never know about that kinda shit would hear it. Of course, I want to be able to get work and for people to like my music– the best thing I can do is to keep making music I like and, because of “Harlem Shake”, maybe people who otherwise would never know about that kinda shit would hear it.
So keep it real Baauer, the money will come, and for those playing at home, remember to always correctly source your material….