Song Of The Day 7/2/2013: DJ Paul Shrug - "Crushing Me Like A Cheese Sandwich"

Here's the electronic piece I was working on Sunday and Monday, under my music-mauling pseudonym DJ Paul Shrug. It's very much demo quality and it sounds too tinny for me, but I could be listening to it with mis-entered EQ.

Here's how this whole thing came about. I was reading a story about The Room, a movie that has become a cult midnight favorite in L.A. over the past few years. It is said to be staggeringly bad, and from the clips I've seen online there is no doubt in my mind that it is. The writer, director and lead actor, Tommy Wiseau, raised the $6 million budget through, it is alleged, selling leather jackets. It's about a love triangle that turns ugly. Wiseau as an actor has intonation issues with the English language, and a truly weird style that sees him having a breakdown, then casually saying, "Oh, hi!" in a friendly tone a millisecond later. You just have to watch the clips.

The Room was so incompetently made that it became a must-see flick in Hollywood. It got so much attention that celebrities like Paul Rudd and David Cross began showing up at midnight screenings. And it inspired the great Patton Oswalt to make a Funny Or Die-style "commercial" parodying The Room, posing as a badly phrasing foreign film director ("from the Arkansas section of the United States") who's looking for people willing to launder their ill-gotten cash through financing his movies. He explains that his films have "suspense," "romance" and "mysterious" [sic]. In one of the "clips" he cries out to his departing lover, "You're crushing MEEEEE like a cheese sandwich!"

I watched both the clip collection and Patton's parody repeatedly over the weekend, and had a sudden inspiration to make a piece on Audacity. So I began collecting drum loops, sampled instruments and clips to fill it out. The first thing I laid down was the "tribal" drum (that's how it was described) that starts the whole piece, and found a dubstep-esque beat to add some electronic sheen to it. Then I constructed my own, laughably simple 4/4 beat using individual kick, snare and hi-hat samples, and found various atmospheric pads to give it some color. I wound up using only one, which you hear near the beginning and the end of the piece.

The tribal drum and the dubstep line had this subharmonic relationship that seemed to suggest a key, so I just went with that. It's a little indistinct, but it's there. I took one cello sample and electronically tuned it to meet that key, then duplicated and tuned it again to compose some two-part harmony that you can hear. All the cello parts you hear came from one sample. I'm actually pretty proud of the cello bits. Then today I painstakingly constructed a bass line, again using just one bass note sample to build. It doesn't kick in until just after the 1:00 mark.

As for the "clips" you hear besides the Oswalt line, I used two of Wiseau's lines (about "Lisa") from The Room and twisted those around. There's also a brief quote from Nathan Lane's "Betrayed" from The Producers ("Wait a minute... that's not my life!"). The setup of the song put forward the idea of a busted romantic relationship, so I decided that made as much sense for a narrative as anything else I could have done. (The other thing I thought about turning this into was a parody of Robert Bly and the men's movement, which is now on my to-do list for the future.) I found a YouTube video from internet personality Taryn Southern  where she has a comic dialogue with herself, trying to resist getting back together with her boyfriend. That's the female voice you hear starting the second half of the song.

And finally, sneaking in manipulated clips from Monty Python's "Cheese Shop" sketch might be obvious, but it works, so the hell with it. Enjoy.

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