In 1996, DJ Shadow released his debut album Endtroducing....., made up almost entirely of samples from various discs the American artist bought in record shops. This flagship and critically acclaimed piece of work soon became a cornerstone of the sampling culture.
More than a decade later, in 2009, an Israeli musician known as Kutiman led sampling through a second revolution with his online music video project and album called ThruYOU. It mixes together a variety of amateur YouTube music videos that Kutiman allegedly spent two full months tracking down on the video platform and shaping into loops, according to an interview with Billboard. The result: eight tracks of absolute ingenuity, the first of which, "Mother of All Funk Chords," has been viewed almost 2 million times.
On October 1, Kutiman is set to repeat the experience with the release of Thru You Too, an album based on the same concept of making YouTube musicians, who have probably never met or performed with each other, come together in music. The first single, "Give It Up," released this week, became an instant success.
The musician has been working on this second work for the past year and estimates it took him three to four months to put all the videos together. He said to Billboard that the searching is what takes him the longest, partly because, as any YouTuber has probably experienced, it is easy to get distracted and watch 100 videos when you planned on just skimming through one. "If I’m looking for a guitar player, eventually I’ll find myself watching people playing guitars for the rest of the night," he told the American magazine.
Kutiman, whose ThruYOU was part of Time’s list of the "50 Best Inventions of 2009," first got the idea for these loops when he had different videos open in several tabs and noticed they sometimes fell in surprisingly perfect harmony. In an interview with French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur, the musician said he assembles the loops like a puzzle, often first looking for a particular rhythm section before finding the perfect vocals and additional instruments to go with it.
He also explains he makes "a point of honor in keeping only videos of unknown people," with the fewest views possible, and tries to get in touch with the musicians in question. Most importantly, he insists on keeping this work freely available. "After all, it comes from the Internet, so it also belongs to it. I do this during my free time, I’m not looking to make a profit from it," he told the magazine. "There’s so much talent and creativity on the Internet," he added.
Kutiman also has released more "traditional" works such as his eponymous album, released in 2007, which is as amazing as his more recent tracks.