E-603 gives Rat preliminary mash-up performance

College-aged digital musician Ethan Ward became absorbed in his laptop-based creations. (Jess Davis).

With the widely anticipated “Spring Music Mash-up” still a few weeks away, students have turned to the Rathskeller for their musical fix.

Mash-up artist E-603 took the stage at a free College Union Board (CUB)-sponsored show on April 6.

E-603 is actually Ethan Ward, a bespectacled 21-year-old who makes his music out of his home. He specializes in “mash-ups,” the technique of combining multiple songs in order to create a completely new sound.

“Every sample is in this giant catalogue and I manipulate them before putting them into a program that puts them together on-the-fly,” Ward explained.

Ward began his performance with no introduction or fanfare, quietly setting up his laptop and beginning to play immediately. Throughout his set, he seemed oblivious to the audience, never once making eye contact with anyone in the crowd. He kept up a steady bopping the entire night, with his occasional nail-biting being the only break in his otherwise impeccable concentration.

Students weren’t put off by his total lack of interest in them, however. A large group danced enthusiastically in front of the stage throughout the performance, enjoying the quirky beats he produced. Ward’s mash-ups encompassed everything from the Jackson 5 to Kanye West to Vanessa Carlton. In fact, many of his combinations were so random that it would be difficult for listeners not find a song they knew in the bunch.

A few particularly interesting mash-ups were ABBA mixed with Katy Perry and Three 6 Mafia alongside The Killers.

“I think the best thing is juxtaposing extremes. Gentle music with graphic rap music is the cream of the crop,” Ward says of his mixes, demonstrating this by pairing a Flo Rida song with the jazzy sounds of a saxophone.

Although one might complain that creating mash-ups doesn’t require nearly as much skill as playing an actual instrument, Ward, who can play several, disagrees.

“There’s going to be negativity because it isn’t conventional. But this allows some more creativity,” he says. Ward is often compared to fellow mash-up artist and acquaintance Greg Gillis, better known by the stage name Girl Talk, who will be coming to perform at the College on April 29.

E-603 performs around the country, mostly appearing at colleges. He currently has two albums, “Torn Up” and “Something for Everyone,” available for free download at E-603.com. He said he plans to release a collection of remixes at some point over the summer as well.

Opening for E-603 was Jeffrey Roman, junior journalism major and Signal Features Editor. Performing solo under the name VultureMoose, he entertained fans with his synthesizer, creating catchy tunes such as “Rick Moranis” and “Unicornucopia” that had the audience bouncing and cheering along.