Club Mix

The Mystery of FluteDrop: D.J. Detweiler Pairs Miley Cyrus With Woodwinds

We track down the secretive DJ who’s created a new remix phenomenon where the chorus to a song like Miley Cyrus’s ‘Wrecking Ball’ is replaced by off-tune recorders.

Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP

Everyone who has been patiently awaiting a recorder remix of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” can finally rejoice. There is a majestically captivating and atrocious version of the song where Cyrus’s vocals are replaced by what sounds like elementary school students learning to play a screeching plastic pipe.

This newly-minted variety of music, a series of remixes where off-tune recorders replace popular bass drops, is called FluteDrop and its mastermind is a man named D.J. Detweiler.

His SoundCloud page has over 11,000 followers with 19 tracks that have gotten over two million plays, and “Brecking Wall,” the Cyrus remix, has been played over 700,000 times. Detweiler tells me over Skype that the idea came to him in a dream.

“I was thinking I was in a rave,” Detweiler said. “And this song by Prodigy—“Smack My Bitch Up”—everyone was dancing and stuff. The song on my mind had a flute drop, like with a recorder and then I wrote it on paper and did it.”

Despite the sheer hilarity of the music itself, Detweiler claims that the flute drops are not an intentional joke.

“Some people react to it as a parody,” Detweiler said. “But if you read between lines, there’s like a concept of critique against this new idea of electronic music must be a build up and then drop. Electronic music must be known already. You go to a bar and listen to songs that you already know.”

Hearing a recorder rip through a trap banger from TNGHT is, if nothing else, a welcome and different change to the traditional club anthem paradigm. Whether Detweiler is being sincere or engaging in some of the finest and well-calculated Internet trolling of recent memory—think a combination of Borat and RickRolling—his brief music career has been marked by a sense of satirical consciousness.

Prior to the FluteDrop venture, Detweiler set up a website that replicated the experience of hearing beggars play recorder on the streets of his hometown in Spain. Users could donate money through PayPal to hear certain songs while the image of the person receiving the money, Detweiler, remained undisclosed. It’s essentially millennial busking, a brilliant criticism of technology’s ability to mask and hide something that is inherently so human and contingent on interpersonal relationships. This original site is one of the stronger indications that Detweiler’s current project is no more than an incisive and defiantly clever way to throw a pie in the face of the music industry.

He claims to have had direct communication with Miley Cyrus’ manager, as well as a host of other big names in the business who allegedly message him on SoundCloud seeking collaborations. (Detweiler sent me a series of screenshots of some of these conversations but they are fairly difficult to read as some of the names of the senders are blurred out. He was hesitant to have the images circulated, which he credits to the mentions of finances.)

Detweiler currently lives in Berlin but speaks with a heavy Spanish accent. He has a tendency to vacillate between childlike excitement about the creative process and serious considerations of industry standards and techniques. He also has an LP and his own fledgling record company called Chin Stroke. In the midst of this bizarre online success, Detweiler has opted for a certain form of anonymity which many artists do not have the fortitude to muster. He uses a blurry photo of a woman at a set of keyboards to represent him on Twitter and other platforms, and he was not willing to reveal his real name. His production moniker comes from the main character in the Disney TV show Recess, who is named T.J. Detweiler. He tells me he is 21 years old. If this is all a hoax, Detweiler is a master of the charade.

“I’m not giving answers,” Detweiler said. “I’m just making questions.”