DA’s DJing Made Easy: Mashups vs. Bootlegs

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Here at Dancing Astronaut, we strive to provide our readers with the best in all things EDM. We realize that much of our readership consists of DJs/producers and we have decided to write a weekly editorial that caters to those people. This column is a continuation of the original “5 Tips” editorial and will feature a new topic each week. 

In the very first installment of this editorial, we mentioned the importance of tagging music correctly, but didn’t explain the terminology in depth. Since then, we have received requests asking us to clarify the differences between mashups and bootlegs, and how to go about constructing your own. So, this week’s DJing Made Easy will cover these different types of edits and some helpful hints on how to make them.


Of the different types of edits, mashups are probably the easiest to recognize. Essentially, it’s just as the name implies; “mashing” different elements of two or more songs to make one track. The most common form of mashup is taking the acapella from one song and layering it over the instrumental of a different song — see “Calling Out Of Love (EDX’s Love Mashup Mix).” While this type of edit is extremely popular in open-format DJing, EDM DJs seem to use them less frequently. However, that isn’t to say that EDM DJs don’t use mashups at all. In fact, one of the best mashups I have ever heard is Kaskade’s mash of “Angel On My Shoulder” vs. Marco V’s “Reaver” vs. Tiesto and Hardwell’s “Zero 76.” Every time this track is played, the crowd response is enormous because it seamlessly combines the best elements of each respective song into one cohesive package.

Kaskade vs. Tiesto & Hardwell vs. Marco V — Angel On My Shoulder Reaver 76 (Kaskade Mashup)


If you aspire to make your own mashups, use this track as somewhat of a guideline. We know that you aren’t Kaskade, but really, there’s nothing about making a mashup like this that is terribly difficult. If all of the elements are in the same BPM and key, it’s a simple cut and paste procedure that can be done in any DAW.

EDX vs. Sebastian Ingrosso & Alesso — Calling Out Of Love (Featuring Sarah McLeod) (EDX’s Love Mashup Mix)



Because a lot of people don’t really understand this terminology, it seems to have taken on somewhat of an arbitrary definition. A lot of people think that bootlegs are synonymous with mashups, but they’re more like the halfway point between a mashup and a remix. While bootlegs use a portion of the original song, they also incorporate original instrumentation, making them more along the lines of unofficial remixes. Take for example Cazzette’s “Save The World” bootleg. While the intro is undoubtedly from the original mix of “Save The World,” the drop is totally remade and changes the feel of the song as a whole.

Because bootlegs use original instrumentation/production, they require more production experience and creativity than mashups but, if you aren’t remixing the entire song, you can’t really call it a “remix.”

To give another solid example, check out Otto Knows’ “Hide and Seek” bootleg. While the vocals and backing instrumentation were taken from the original song, the rest of the track is entirely recreated and the song is transformed into a big room gem.

Imogen Heap — Hide and Seek (Otto Knows Bootleg)


Without writing an entire production tutorial, it’s difficult to guide you through the process of making a bootleg, but if nothing else, at least now you know what a bootleg (technically) is. One piece of advice, though — make sure that any added instrumentation is in key with that of the original song. A quality bootleg should breathe new life into the song while smoothly transitioning between both parts.


Musical terminology can be confusing (especially at the rate that tracks are coming out now), and we hope this has helped clear up any of that confusion. At least now, when you hear a mashup and notice that it’s labeled as a remix, you’ll be able to call it out. Or, if you want to put your own twist on a track, but don’t have the stems to do an all-out remix, you know that what you are producing is more than likely a bootleg.

This editorial is meant to do just as it’s titled: try to make DJing a little easier for people who are less experienced. It isn’t meant to be DA’s step-by-step guide to becoming a superstar DJ. However, if there are other topics that you would like us to focus on in future columns, feel free to tell us in the comments.


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