The mind behind ‘Pop Danthology’

The mind behind ‘Pop Danthology’
Korean-Canadian YouTube sensation Daniel Kim

From the humorously trend-setting era of hammer pants to the present day hip-hop infused electro-psychedelic pop, the music world is certainly no stranger to the constantly changing and ever-so-inventive modern fads and phases.

Much thanks to YouTube, technological innovation and sheer musical genius, the art of mash-ups is becoming one of the hottest trends in the music industry today.

The 2012 Hollywood blockbuster "Pitch Perfect" helped rocket song mashing into the global, mainstream limelight. The out-of-left-field box office hit hysterically highlighted both the musical art of a capella, while all the while having young people mixing and mashing together popular tracks into a single harmoniously synced song.

Now breathing fresh life into and further expanding the growing popularity of song mashing is Korean-Canadian YouTube sensation Daniel Kim, who is best known in the online community for his annual "Pop Danthology" year-end productions.

In 2012, Kim unveiled his "Pop Danthology 2012" music video, in which the music producer selected more than 50 songs to intertwine and marinate together. The clip was an instant viral success, gaining more than 10 million hits worldwide in just three days. To date the debut mash-up clip has amassed more than 60 million views on YouTube.

His music productions' tremendous success has now led Kim to subsequently publish an annual large-scale mash-up, including his most recent "2014 Pop Danthology." The YouTube star's latest mash-up features a mind-blowing hodgepodge of 66 popular singles of all varying genres into one, cohesively sound 5-minute-45-second track.

So what first motivated the 29-year-old self-proclaimed artist, philosopher and healer to delve into a life of music and producing?

"My need for validation in something that I was good at first motivated me to produce more music," said Kim in an email interview with The Korea Herald.

"I wanted to get myself out there in the YouTube world making my own renditions of popular songs. But since there were already so many better singers and better instrumentalists on YouTube, I had to find something different that I was better at," he continued.

Kim is a self-admitted avid music listener and stated that an entire "Pop Danthology" compilation is a near yearlong process. Starting at the beginning of the year, he said he is constantly jotting down various songs that he hears ― whether it's on the radio or outside ― to compile a seemingly never-ending list of hundreds of songs. After gathering all the song files on his list, Kim said it then takes him an average of around 180 hours of painstaking dedication to complete one of his end-of-the-year mash-ups.

"Pop Danthology is a glimpse into my utopian world where none of the boring filler stuff exists anymore," he says.

Oddly enough, it is more his previous notion of "boredom," rather than his intrinsic love of music, that led the producer to want to create these mash-ups in the first place.

The Vancouver native has been producing music for the past decade and explained that throughout much of his life, he had struggled with a number personality and social disorders that left him constantly bored and on-edge.

"I had previously suffered from OCPD (obsessive-compulsive personality disorder), anxiety and addictions. OCPD, most simply put, is an addiction to negativity caused from a lot of unresolved pain, hurt and disappointments in life," Kim explained.

In order to raise more awareness of both his disorders and his music, the producer created "The Psychology of Pop Danthology," a self-illustrated and self-narrated autobiographical short film that literally illustrates his psychological mindset as it pertains to his music. He admits his type of personality cannot stand music that progresses too slowly, and therefore, with his mash-ups, he prefers to cut straight to the point and get right to the juicy beats.

However, despite his tremendous online success ― amassing more than 635,000 followers and surpassing 116 million views on YouTube and counting ― Kim says that although he plans to continue on with his annual "Pop Danthology" year-end compilations, he is putting his other musical endeavours on hold.

"For many years, music had distracted me from resolving my inner issues. At the age of 26, I had to quit music," said Kim.

Regardless of having to hold back on his music career in order to focus on his health, Kim says that he is leaving open the possibility of getting back into music beyond his annual mash-ups.

Over the years, the YouTube star slowly made his presence known on the peninsula with his many K-pop postings. As an ethnic Korean, Kim is certainly no stranger to K-pop as his YouTube page features a large number of Korean songs covers and small-scale mash-ups.

"I think the 'hallyu' movement is really cool," Kim said. "I also like and have benefited from the movement's contribution to the heightening of people's perception of the attractiveness of Korean people."

"I do hope to make more of a presence both in Korea and with Korean music," he concluded.

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