Baauer has finally responded to the sudden viral success of his 8-month-old single “Harlem Shake.” Speaking to The Daily Beast backstage at a sold-out New York show on Friday, the Brooklyn producer said, “It’s gotten absolutely insane. All I did was make the song so it’s kind of a weird place for me to be at. I birthed it, it was raised by others, and now it’s like my weird, fucked up adopted teenage kid coming back to me.”
As for what he was actually going for with the song, he explained, “I just had the idea of taking a Dutch house squeaky-high synth and putting it over a hip-hop track. And then I tried to just make it the most stand-out, flashy track that would get anyone’s attention, so put as many sounds and weird shit in there as I could. The dude in the beginning I got somewhere off the Internet, I don’t even know where, and the lion roar just makes no sense. There’s the sound of flames in there, too, it’s just really low.”
Sounds like the perfect single for a drop-savvy age, right? Maybe so, but here’s where it gets interesting: Azealia Banks was originally supposed to be on a vocal version of the song. And that ‘remix’ she leaked last week? It’s the take Baauer decided to turn down.
“I’m not happy about it,” he said. “She had a version that we were going to release because I’m a big fan of hers. We knew she likes to beef with producers. So she laid something on ‘Harlem Shake’ and it was so/so. Didn’t love it. And that was a little while ago, and since all this video stuff happened, our plans all changed. Because of that, we decided to just release the song on its own with no vocal version. So we told her, ‘Please don’t release your version.’ And she said, ‘Well, I’m going to put it online anyway.’ And we said, ‘Please don’t. We’d really like it if you didn’t.’ And she did.”
Drama! In more positive news, Baauer has a LuckyMe on the way featuring Just Blaze and Alluna of AlunaGeorge. Check out the cutting room floor version of “Harlem Shake” below, along with the video that gave Baauer’s bank account a boost and our surprisingly candid interview with Banks from late 2011..