When it came time for Baauer to write his sophomore album PLANET’S MAD, the Brooklyn DJ/producer immediately turned to cinema. “Movies were my biggest inspiration,” he tells Apple Music. “Sci-fi films like The Fifth Element that transported me to another world.” Taking cues from Porter Robinson’s conceptual Virtual Self project, the “Harlem Shake” hitmaker became fixated on the idea of building his own alternate universe. “I thought, ‘How fun would it be to create a world that listeners could immerse themselves in?’” With help from the Portuguese producer Holly, he sketched an exhilarating sonic landscape that calls to mind late-’90s dance titans like Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers, and Daft Punk, who made sample-based takes on trance and electro feel catchy and fun. “Those guys didn’t use a ton of features and they didn’t stick to one genre,” Baauer says. “It was more about building an environment—and an energy.” Here, he talks us through the album track by track. PLANCK “I’m a sucker for a big, dramatic intro, and this feels like a grand opening. I wanted it to feel cinematic, so I made it with a program that’s designed for scoring movies. I had my friend Eli [Teplin], who is an amazing piano player, write a big, orchestral, epic piece, and then I built on that.” PLANET’S MAD “This was a demo I made in LA when I was just messing around in the studio. I put on Instagram live to try to get a little kick in the butt, which works sometimes. If there's an audience, and they’re giving feedback, it’s an extra boost. Conceptually, I’d been thinking about this idea, like what if the world had a mind of its own? I’d just seen that movie Solaris and thought it was so cool how the planet was an intelligent being. Eventually, it became the title for the whole project because I liked that it carried a lot of different meanings. It could be environmental, or mad like insane. I wanted to stir up a few different emotions and let you follow them.” MAGIC “After I made this demo, I sent it to Cid Rim, who is this amazing jazz drummer also on LuckyMe. He sent back that plucky violin sound, and it sounded so cool. I thought it sounded like a perfect fantasy planet—surreal and psychedelic. I don’t know if you’ve ever read Dinotopia, that kids’ picture book about a society in which humans and dinosaurs live together in harmony, but it’s tight.” YEHOO “I was working on this track in LA, tinkering away on my laptop, and I got a FedEx package. When I opened the door, the delivery guy saw that I had [the music software program] Ableton open and told me he was in a band. He was like, ‘Check us out! We’re Zap Mama.’ So I did, and they were awesome. It was this African-inspired multi-piece band, and I loved it so much that I took one of the tracks and sort of folded it into what I was working on. I love it.” PIZZAWALA “My biggest influence ever is Timbaland. He is the guy whose sound I want to emulate the most, and this song is a little tip of the hat to him. The vocals are from this songwriter Ink who I worked with in LA, and the droning and humming is from an old trance CD. It’s percussive. It’s energetic. It felt like a great scene-setter for this world. Gradually, each song started to represent a different environment. This one sounded like antelope rushing through a field or something. Well, not an antelope, but like an alien antelope.” REACHUPDONTSTOP “My friend Andrew is a huge record collector, and this sample came from digging through his collection. The a cappella totally jumped out at me—it was so energetic and fun. The demo ended up being a Jersey club-ish beat, and I sent it to Holly, who put a whole other dimension to it. He wrote these beautiful builds—they sound like trancecore. They reminded me of listening to progressive trance when I was still discovering electronic music as a teenager and loving it so much.” HOT 44 “This one started off with Larry King interviewing Tina Turner. She's talking about doing meditation and saying, ‘When you get into the rhythm, the sound…’ and talking about her mantra. And I was like, ‘Oh god, that's so good.’ Her voice sounded so cool. So I ripped it off YouTube to make a little demo, and started playing with this percussive sound I got off Splice. Then Dom, who is the head of LuckyMe, told me to check out a track by Randomer. The drums were just insane. It had the exactly the same feeling as what I was working on, but better. I tried to remake them and couldn’t. They were too good. Thankfully, we got in touch with him and he was like, ‘Yeah, cool, man, all good.’ But Tina Turner’s camp was not so cool. I had to get her vocal remade, which was a bummer. It’s missing her texture. But that’s how it goes sometimes.” AETHER “I had this great melody from a vocal I’d pitched around, but couldn’t figure out what to do with it. The beat was so basic. Months later, I decided to pick it back up and make it more exciting, more special. So I put a little drum ’n’ bass break thing onto it. It reminded me of Prodigy, who is another huge influence of world-building electronic music that I love so much. I sent it to Holly, the wizard, and he took it to the next level. He made it 3D. Of all the tracks on the album, this is the banger that I’d play on a big stage.” COOL ONE SEVEN ONE “This is my classic naming style. I try to name all of my tracks like this, but the label won’t let me. This is another one that reminded me of nature—like birds of paradise doing their mating dance. This was my version of that scene.” REMINA “This was a necessary track to take you into the final act of the project. Holly found this ambient sample and we simply reversed it to make it feel like we were floating.” HOME (feat. Bipolar Sunshine) “Eli, the piano player, was tinkering around one day and I recorded him. I kept listening to it on a loop and knew I had something. It just made me feel so good. I wanted someone to sing on it but had a tough time finding the right person. When I finally recorded Bipolar Sunshine, it increased the feels tenfold. Then, at the last minute, we passed it to Hudson Mohawke—who has been an inspiration of mine from day one—and he helped with the finishing touches. It’s kind of funny that this soft chill-out ballad is the track I finally worked with him on. Like, it doesn’t even have drums. But it was great.” GROUP “To me, ‘GROUP’ combines all the atmospheres I wanted to achieve on the album: beautiful, soft soundscapes; aggressive, exciting drums; each distorted and stretched to feel a little unfamiliar. It has this growling dubstep drop that I like because it feels like a different interpretation of that sound. It almost feels sad, which was why I wanted to make it the last track. In my head, the storyline follows an emotional arc: This planet shows up from deep space and causes all this fear and commotion, but over time everyone falls in love with it. This song is about that planet finally floating away and how we say goodbye. I think there’s a lot there.”

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