Link to our Facebook
Link to our Instagram
Link to our TikTok

'Some People Made A Lot Of Money': How Bushwacka Lost Control Of 'Billie Jean' Remix

21 June 2023 | 3:37 pm | Mary Varvaris

This is how a massive record label bootlegged Bushwacka.


Bushwacka (Source: Facebook)

More Bushwacka More Bushwacka

London DJ Bushwacka has shared an unforgettable story about how he lost control of his remix of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean.

Taking to social media yesterday (20 June), the Secret Weapon DJ took readers back to 2001. He was 28 years old, in Egypt with his seven-year-old son. Sitting by the hotel pool and reading a book, the Michael Jackson classic started playing on the radio. That’s when the idea of remixing the song came to Bushwacka.

“I thought to myself, ‘hmm, what if I chopped the drums up and made some loops, and added a 4/4 kick - that would sound wicked in my DJ sets,’” thinking the process would only take a few hours. Bushwacka added, “It ended up taking a lot longer as the loops were very ‘human’, and I needed to make a lot of intricate edits to get them to sit into a quantised rhythm.

“I added my own lines, percussion, rolls, effects, and turned the loops into a 7 minute long edit/remix of the track…not content with the ending I edited the end of the remix into the original track to finish.”

Bushwacka played it a few times to enthusiastic audience before taking it to Ibiza. Playing it to legends of EDM, Danny Tenaglia, Spoony G, and Pete Tong, Bushwacka played his version of Billie Jean to an Ibiza audience who promptly went “bonkers”.

“Spoony told me he played golf with the head of Epic and he could hook me up, so I sent the DAT of the track to the address he gave me, along with a cover letter,” Bushwacka wrote. This is when things get strange.

Plug into the latest music with our FREE weekly newsletter

“Next thing I know I get a call from the offices of the record label saying a DAT had arrived on their desk but they were not sure who it was supposed to be for.

“A few weeks later I walked into my mate’s record shop in Kensington High Street - Carbon Records, and the manager said ‘Hey Matthew - we just got your new record in’… ‘What new record - I haven’t put anything out?’ I asked.” 

That’s how Bushwacka found out he had been bootlegged – 200 copies of a one-sided yellow label record with Billy Bushwacked written on it were floating around London.

The bootlegs even made it to New York City. “I gave it to Tong, tong had given it to Morillo, Morillo had given it to Sanchez, and suddenly it was everywhere - 4 or 5 different bootlegs appeared in stores everywhere,” Bushwacka continued.

“I had spoken to my lawyers, and had tried to get this out through the right channels, and when Epic finally responded they said they were not going to sue me, as I had approached them first... but that the MJ camp couldn’t put it out at the time as they had a release schedule planned for his new album and tour…

“And so this is what happened…I heard that Epic(Sony) bootlegged it themselves, hence me not getting done, even though I didn’t do anything, as well as various shady distributors and bootleggers getting in on the profits… who knows - but some people made a lot of money…”

To conclude the post, Bushwacka teased an official edited version of his 2001 remix, writing: “If you are a skilful DJ you can play a shorter version of the edit, and then mix in the original track yourself - who knows, maybe the edit will show up somewhere soon…keep your ears to the ground and eyes peeled…”

You can check out Bushwacka's latest single, Secret Weapon 003, before it "self-destructs" in 41 hours, below.