Dallas viral sensation There I Ruined It turns the hits inside out

There I Ruined It Photo: Jessica Waffles

At a glance, it’s a conceit which might give music lovers pause.

There I Ruined It, the popular YouTube (and TikTok and Instagram) sensation spearheaded by Dallas native Dustin Ballard, is built around taking the familiar and applying what Ballard calls “offbeat creativity.” What does that sound like in practice?

The effect is disarming — arresting and hilarious in equal measure, and that feeling is why Ballard’s amassed seven million followers globally, and attracted attention from the likes of Justin Timberlake, Questlove and Michael Buble.

Ballard has also found a way to translate this amusing alchemy into the live setting, which he, along with seven musical collaborators, will do on June 29 at Deep Ellum Art. Co. (Later in the year, Ballard said the project will make its way to Austin, San Antonio and Fort Worth, with additional Dallas performances also on the horizon.)

KXT recently caught up with Ballard via email to find out more about the social media phenomenon turned live music endeavor, which Ballard said “goes well beyond a cheap laugh.”

What was the initial song/songs that sparked your interest in remixes?

Ballard: I had never had a particular interest in song mashups or remixes growing up, though I did enjoy recording and tinkering with audio. There I Ruined It all started as a music theory experiment. I wondered if I could take a music video and replace the audio with my own singing and instruments to change the melody and chord structure, but still have the lips sync up with the video.

To test the idea, I turned “Shallow” from A Star is Born into a polka song. It was a funny effect I had never seen before and people on Reddit liked it. I spent a year or so making those kinds of creations and eventually expanded into different kinds of mashups, remixes, AI creations, and auto-tuning nonsense.

How do you approach each song? Is there a process?

I never have much of a plan when I sit down in the evenings to create things. I sometimes have songs in mind or techniques I want to try, but generally the only guiding force is to juxtapose things that don’t belong together.

What should people expect from the live show?

The live show combines the talents of eight top DFW musicians to bring to life the channel’s most viral hits. I suspect it’s the only live show in America that jumps between country, gangster rap, polka, Disney tunes, grunge rock and Soviet marches. And yet, beyond the chaos and laughs, there is a lot to appreciate if you’re a music fan in the arrangements and performance.

There I Ruined It at Deep Ellum Art Co., Dallas. 8 p.m. June 29. Tickets are $15-$20.

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.