CDZA, online video series of musical experiments, profiled in Mother Jones

CDZA's Joe Sabia, Michael Thurber, and Matt McCorkle. Photo: Maria Im

When Joe Sabia, who collaborates with Boing Boing on our in-flight Virgin America TV channel, told me about an idea he had for a web video series in which Juilliard-trained virtuosos would perform experiments with classical and popular music, I knew it would be great. It sounded crazy, but Joe is a special kind of talent who comes up with consistently golden ideas and makes them work.

Millions of YouTube views later CDZA (Collective Cadenza) is now a hit online and on stage. It's great to see Mother Jones profiling them in the current issue. Snip:

"Whenever we sit down to write our stuff, we always say, 'Man, this is the stupidest shit'—but then when it all comes together, it works!" On that note, Michael Thurber ends his break and heads back into Terminus Recording Studios, which is something of a landmark in the Manhattan Theater District. Paul McCartney and Liza Minnelli have recorded here. It's in the same building where Tupac Shakur was shot five times.

It's also where Thurber's crew, CDZA (Collective Cadenza), creates musical videos with a meta twist. "The Beatles Argument," for instance, features a lovers' quarrel sung almost entirely in Beatles lyrics.

"Hip Hop Shopping Spree," a three-minute rap medley, is accompanied by a calculation of the cumulative retail value of the songs' product placements—almost $57 million. One video samples the history of misheard lyrics, from Carl Orff to Pink. Another chronicles the history of wooing and seducing men in song, ranging from Aretha Franklin ("A Natural Woman," 1967) to Riskay ("Smell Yo Dick," 2008).

Read the Mother Jones profile here, with an assortment of CDZA's best work. And subscribe to their YouTube channel here.

Video in this post: behind-the-scenes footage shot and edited by Mother Jones' Tim McDonnell, above; and below, CDZA's "Beatles Argument."