One of the things we’ve talked about often here at NMR is the ways in which steraming video, and YouTube in particular, have changed the world of music. Video views represent a huge chunk of the music consumed online. That’s why Billboard opted to include YouTube statistics when compiling their Hot 100 charts for the most in-demand songs of the week. Video has skyrocketed artists like Psy, and The Chainsmokers saw their singles score international radio play thanks to viral videos. Even Iggy Azalea wouldn’t be nearly so Fancy if her Clueless-inspired video for “Fancy” hadn’t gone viral.
One of the first artists to benefit from this phenomenon was Harry Bauer Rodrigues, better known as Baauer and perhaps even better known as the guy who created “The Harlem Shake.” Baauer is the man responsible for the catchy single that sparked a tidal wave of viral dance videos in the spring of 2013. The success made Baauer a household name, but it also left the young producer yearning to avoid becoming a one-meme-wonder.
Recently, Baauer teamed up with Red Bull for an ambitious project. He and producing partner Nick Hook would travel the world collecting new sounds and expanding their sonic pallet. The entire adventure was captured in a short documentary, Baauer: Searching For Sound. Baauer and Hook travelled to the Bedouin camps of the United Arab Emirates and the Shinto shrines of Japan to capture new sounds, experiment with traditional instruments, and develop the foundations of Baauer’s next project.
The documentary is an interesting look inside the creative process. Baauer and Hook collect and mix sounds the way an artist might accumulate pigments. More fascinating though is the image of a young artist who feels extra pressure to prove himself in the wake of a single staggering success. The kind of celebrity created by viral fame is often one without context. Everyone knows Baauer and the Harlem Shake, but Harry Rodrigues is still in the process of discovering his sound and filling in the blanks. The video is a worthwhile exploration of what creative life looks like in the wake of going viral.