If you’re into loop-and-sample based music in the vein of say, Deep Forest or Kutiman, and you haven’t checked out Pogo, you’re in for a treat. Pogo is the stage name of Australian mashup/music artist Nick Bertke, who brilliantly slices up familiar films ranging from Disney classics & Pixar blockbusters like Snow White and Up, to classics and cult faves like The Apartment and Pulp Fiction, and then reassembles the pieces into evocative, catchy, surprisingly melodic tunes, many of which clock in at around two minutes.
Much of Pogo’s work owes its musicality and atmosphere to the fact that rather than relying on a lot of pitch-shifting and time compression to create a composition, he takes a lot of care to select pieces of dialog or even foley sounds that have a more inherent musicality, and typically builds the work around those pieces, rather than banging them into place to suit a preconceived idea. The resulting tunes often have a very evocative and genuinely musical quality that most mashup artists and their loop-based songs fail too achieve.
Below are our picks from Pogo’s catalog, which is rather extensive. Many of the pieces are on YouTube, as you see below, but one test for us as we assembled these selections was “is it listenable without the video or sentiments about the source?” We think most of these tracks are, and most of them are available on Amazon.
I may be a little biased, since The Apartment is one of my favorite films, but this is genius. It captures an odd retro-future vibe of the sixties, and is surprisingly melodic, given the dry delivery of much of the dialog in the source film. GET THE SONG
It’s almost like the British series The Mighty Boosh was created merely so Pogo would have a video to make. The droning tenor of the creepy moon lends a perfect anchor to some very melodic “Nicey Nicey Zoo Zoo” GET THE SONG
If you sent a robot from the 22nd century back to the 1930’s, this is the message it might return. The plaintive “talkie” vocalising of Snow White is somehow all at once eerie and uplifting. GET THE SONG
Probably more Will Smith than most people can handle in three minutes, and yet still pretty charming. Who would think “Arnold Schwarzenegger” could make for such a catchy component of a refrain? With a bonus Hawaiian slide break. GET THE SONG
A sort of one-note acoustic-afro-boogie comprised of material from footage for the “World Remix” project. GET THE SONG
A charming and upbeat riff created with Good Makers Films, as part of the Good Makers initiative to spread joy and creativity throughout Kenyan communities. GET THE SONG
Just Blue Fairy
You don’t have to have an appreciation for Spielberg’s Artificial Intelligence to enjoy the bittersweet cheerfulness of this tune. It’s probably suitable that the video literally shows the actual digital source of the sound. GET THE SONG
This one has that irresistible perkiness that infects so many of the Pogo mashups, and at its current 10 million+ views, is one of the most popular, due certainly in part to the popularity of Up, the movie.
A fuckin’ good milk-shake! Samuel Jackson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction. Need we say more? Warning: after watching this, the phrases “god damn”, “fuck me”, and “you’ll be a woman soon” will be running through your head for the rest of the day. GET THE SONG
Behind the Scenes, & In Front of the Camera
With some artists who establish their reputation via the web, you may go years without learning much about them. Pogo stepped in front of the camera and was on social media a bit in 2013, but mostly has since mostly retreated to his digital domain, expressing that he felt the engagement was having a negative effect on his creations.
Snow White remixed live
Aside from the brilliantly selected and edited fairy voices that make this tune bubble, one of my favorite things about this clip is that I’m pretty sure that I (and I bet you) occasionally find myself dancing this clownishly in the privacy of home. Bravo, Pogo, for letting it all hang out.
Wizard Of Meh
Here’s another of Pogo’s rare on-screen appearances, demonstrating an impressive willingness to ham it up. If you don’t like the visuals, look away, it’s actually amongst the better mashups, if a bit too short. GET THE SONG
How He Does It
Pogo is surprisingly open about his process, even going so far as to create step-by-step how to’s that get as detailed as setting up the sound card on your Mac! The clip below is one of many that NoFilmSchool has rounded up here.