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Bossasaurus moves from remixing others to creating itself 

Wednesday, Jan 20 2010
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So far, Bossasaurus' career fits pretty snugly into the hipster laptop-remixer and DJ template. Its members promote a fanciful backstory involving a fictional archaeologist, Ronald Cornelius, who finds fossils in Oakland that mutate into life when placed too near to his record collection. They use extravagant names: founder-producers Egon Brainparts and Negatron Johnson (in a previous incarnation, they rolled as the rap duo the Neglected Dialect), plus additional recruits keyboardist Captain Claws and DJ HOP. There's the biographical blurb that boasts about how their electronic-, sample-, and synth-rooted productions have been embraced by both backpack rap kids and "glow-stick-twirling Justice groupies." They plan to launch a line of hoodies with dinosaur plates stitched down the back. And, most tellingly, they've created a buzz by remixing other artists, as exemplified by their Christmas Day–released mixtape, Shove These Fossils up Your Magnificent Creationist Ass, which sees them revamping rappers like Aesop Rock and Tech N9ne.

Only a year and a half into Egon and Negatron forming their Bossasaurus movement, they've already been pigeonholed as merely the latest in a line of DJs ham-fistedly mashing together the creative fruits of others. "We've been written up and written off as a DJ crew," Egon confirms. "But where we come from, it's really more of the supernerdy bedroom producer side of things, like tweaking tracks with hundreds of layers." It's this danger of being stigmatized as capable of handling nothing more than remix duties that has prompted them to focus on pushing their original music to the forefront in 2010.

All four members of Bossasaurus are serious about their aims to be seen as creators. They openly scorn the current remix scene, dissing "laptop DJs," lamenting re-edits of songs as something that takes "not much skill," bemoaning the "general lousy quality of mixtapes," and even ranting at Kanye West's generous use of Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" for his own "Stronger," a song they tag as "music for cornballs." But they also appreciate how remixes can act as jumping-off devices. Negatron readily admits that by virtue of being a Web-released project, on one level Shove is "a ploy to attract listeners from multiple genres and other artists."

As a way to recruit followers for their own creations, it might just work: Shove rights much of what Bossasaurus fingers as wrong with other mixtapes. Created in Bossasaurus' San Francisco penthouse studio, the remix takes the bare bones of an a cappella lyric and melds it to a backing track intricately built up from its stash of "micro samples." It's an artful approach, and one that can take a couple of weeks to complete, with music flying back and forth between Egon and Negatron before Claws embellishes the song with synth work and DJ HOP adds the cuts. So far, this respectful attitude toward remixing has spread their reputation the right way, with fellow S.F. resident Aesop Rock retweeting their take on his "None Shall Pass" and looking like a probable collaborator.

The members of Bossasaurus are planning to further evolve their productions and release an original debut album before the year is out. From the few songs of their own creation they've offered so far, their sound has more in common with DJ Shadow's early, nuanced productions than anything designed solely to rouse the skinny jeans or glow-stick set onto the dancefloor. Egon promises of the next phase, "We'll be painting a new and very musical sonic picture."

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Phillip Mlynar

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