The Article is a Remix : Is Remixing Culture the New Direction in Music and Art?

This Article Is A Remix: Is remixing culture the new direction in music and art?
For better or worse, like most of my generation and those younger than me, I grew up voraciously consuming and interacting with pop culture. I spent endless hours holed up in my parents’ basement watching after-school cartoons, playing with toys inspired by my favorite movies and TV shows to create my own, unique story lines; scenes based on existing characters, reinterpreted and re-imagined by me. Years later, In that same basement, I remember agonizing for weeks, to meticulously craft the perfect mix tape from cross generations and genres of music to create my ultimate album.  One of the more honorable Decepticons might team up with Fitor and Road Ranger to fight Smurf village and White Lion might follow Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew. There were endless possibilities in the remix. It’s no surprise then that an entire generation, that grew up with this same type of media interaction, is moving popular culture in a new direction.Artists are revisiting the work of other artists – re-mixing current pop culture to create new art.
The trend itself isn’t new. While artists have always sampled and re-purposed their predecessors’ work, there is something unique about today’s brand of recycled art. Artists and musicians are reconfiguring, reshuffling, and recollecting work to present as their own, at incredible, new speeds. This cut-and-paste-as-fast-as-you-can approach to creating art is reinventing our perceptions of pop culture at such a rapid rate that we often don’t have time to properly form an initial reaction to begin with.
Almost the complete antithesis to the No Wave scene of the late 70’s and early 80’s, the current pop culture trend is not about making art that references nothing else. Neither is it a complete throwback to decades past. Instead, it adopts nostalgia for today as the basis from which to create.
From music-mash up DJ super star Girl Talk, whose last album All Day sampled 372 popular songs, to the crude cut-and-paste street art remixes of Poster Boy, Miss Bugs and Mr. Brainwash, the gap between influences and references in art is shrinking.What emerges is merely an alteration of some current cultural contribution.  So, does the remix strip the uniqueness, diversity, and vision of the original art so that it is softened and homogenized? And does the speed at which art is produced and re-produced render it culturally insignificant or unsustainable?In the music world, the solo DJ project Girl Talk, started by Gregg Gillis is paving the way for an onslaught of copycat DJ projects looking to cash in on their own brand of re-mixes. While hip-hop artists have been sampling music for well over a decade, Girl Talk is something altogether new. Gillis prolifically produces dozens of hip-hop, pop and rock mash up-style remixes, using dozens of samples from different pop songs (including current work) to create new ones, sometimes sampling 20+ songs in a single track. The result: pop songs for the attention-deficit.Gillis says the songs he creates, while hashed from other pop songs are, in fact, entirely original. The mashed results mean something entirely different to his listeners than the originals ever did. While they may sound familiar, they are at the same time foreign, and the re-shuffled end-product is given new meaning. The songs are unique and “new”, he says.”With a lot of music, it’s about creating a new way to look at it…If this is a novelty, then it’s a novelty that I’ve spent 10 years really developing. Like, Weird Al [Yankovic] is a novelty, but it doesn’t mean he’s not a genius”.  (Gillis on NPR MUSIC: Girl Talk: Cataloging Samples ‘All Day’, December 4, 2010)We can call “Eat It” genius all we want (and, as satire, maybe it is), but will it ever be considered culturally significant?
Will that black Sabbath/ J-kwon/ Missy Elliot/ N.W.A./ 2Pac,/ JC/ Jay-Z/ Alicia Keys/ Eminem/ Dr. Dre/ 50 Cent/ Ramones/ Aaliyah/ Ludacris/ Chris Brown/ Cali Swag District song from 2010 be remembered?  Or does the expendable attitude this art takes towards its influences make it easily replaceable?

Re-mix culture is also invading the underground art scene. In the UK, Miss Bugs, an anonymous graffiti artist duo, has been rapidly appropriating pop imagery and well-known pieces of street art, like Shepard Fairey’s, “Obama”. Their street art exhibit, “Cut Out and Fade Out,” incorporates elements of existing pop imagery with the street background, to transcend both. So at once it pays homage to – and mocks – its original influences. >>>

LEELOU: GASOLINE

[rating:2]

LeeLou: Kiss. Death. Love. Come.
Label: Enso Records
Release Date: 11th October 2010

‘Kiss. Death. Love. Come.’, the debut release from LeeLou (aka Rebekah Dobbins) is reminiscent of the carefully crafted post-punk sound that harks back to a time when pop artists were exactly that…artists. Intelligent and exhilarating, there’s a substance to the music so often lacking in today’s chart fodder. Like Siouxsie and The Banshees or The Cure, there may be a brooding aesthetic that packages this innovative music but their uncompromising songs bleed positivity and hope. LeeLou’s powerful voice tears through the rich tapestry of Paul Simm’s production to create inventive and adventurous pop music that cuts straight to the core.

Inspired by the MP expenses scandal of 2009, lead track ’Burn Your Houses Down’, is a visceral assault on the senses and a revolt against the carefree, nonchalant use of money by those who have plenty of it. Lyrically sharp and witty, the song translates into a powerful slice of socio-politically fuelled pop. The bass parts on the track were recorded with a little help Tessa Pollitt of the seminal female post-punk trio The Slits. ‘Kill For Your Love’ is a powerful song that reflects a timeline of memories. Dark and brooding, its subject matters are escapism, fear and the craving for love. The rousing third track, ‘Gasoline’ explores the idea that no matter how tough a situation may become, we stay strong in the face of adversity and keep shooting for the stars, holding our dreams and aspirations tight. The closer ‘Kiss Like Carnivores’ discusses mutual indifference to something or someone, using and being used and our acceptance of that. Dark, edgy and effortlessly cool.

Turning her hand to singing, song writing, and poetry from an early age, Rebekah exudes natural talent and breathes the arts. Her profound use of verse to express herself has long been a cathartic outlet for her emotions and remains to this day a prominent part of her daily life. Citing her influences as everyone from Ted Hughes to Vivienne Westwood, she formed her first band at the tender age of 12 and has been on the stage or in a studio ever since. Creativity courses through her veins. Raised by her single mother, the male figures in her life was made up by her brother, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, Ted Hughes, Thurston Moore and Kurt Kobain. With such musical and literary rebels pointing the way, she found herself drowning in excess but escaped by moving to a bigger pond. In an attempt to shed the skin of her hometown of Devon, she soon found herself heading for the bright lights of London in search of some like-minded souls and cultural stimulation. While occasional modelling and session work kept the wolves from the door, it wasn’t until a random encounter at a party that things really started to happen for Rebekah. She got talking to Nouvelle Vague’s Marc Collin, who later invited her to join the band for their forthcoming tour. Already using her artist name LeeLou, she also sang on the band’s last album NV3 which was released in 2009, before turning her full time attention to the project with songwriting and creative partner Paul Simm. Like Rebekah, Paul is no stranger to the music business, sculpting hits for the likes of Amy Winehouse, The Sugababes, Siobhan Donaghy and Neneh Cherry, which has seen his songs grace the charts on many occasions. Finding Rebekah, brought him out from behind the scenes and back into a driving role with LeeLou. The pair met in a Denmark Street studio and immediately recognised that they had found what they were looking for in a musical partner. “She told me about a conceptual art/music installation she was working on and asked me to come along and see it. I knew straight away that she wasn’t just another pretty face with a good voice”. Indeed she is not.

UPCOMING ALBUM RELEASES: SEPTEMBER 2009

yo-la-tengo-popular-songs

September 1:

The Black Crowes: Before the Frost…

The Black Crowes: …Until the Freeze

Datarock: Red

September 8:

Vivian Girls: Everything Goes Wrong

Yo La Tengo: Popular Songs

Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson: Break Up

September 14:

Muse: The Resistance

September 20:

Pearl Jam:  Backspacer

September 22:

The Pains of being Pure at Heart: Higher Than the Stars

Why?: Eskimo Snow

September 29:

la Roux: La Roux

The Melvins: Chicken Switch

The Swell Season:  Strict Joy

YO LA TENGO: POPULAR SONGS

Posted in MUSIC

ylt452

Hoboken based indie band veterans Yo La Tengo have just released a new video for “Here to Fall,” off  their upcoming LP, Popular Songs, which hits stores September 8th.  The video which is the first in a series of 5, features director John McSwain’s mesmerizing slow motion kaliedescopic airshow footage set to Ira Caplan’s honest lyrics about taking the plunge. “I know you’re worried/ I’m worried too, But if you’re ready/ I’m here to fall with you.”Ira sings about devotion and the leap of faith thats love filled with soaring strings and spacey electronic instrumentals.

The video is like a more poetic re-imagined version of Van Halens Top Gun inspired video for “Dreams” peppered with footage from Ang Lees Hulk. The first time I watched this, I kept waiting for a plane to crash but thankfully Yo La Tengo is not quite as cynical when it comes to love…and maybe we could all be a little less. No planes crash and something very simple just becomes very hypnotic and beautiful to watch.  If you are interested how the next 4 videos play out, check back with Discosalt in the coming months to find them all here.

OH NO ONO: EGGS

eggs_cover

Death, sexual fantasies and embarassing erections…just not  as funny as junior high or a Woody Allen movie.  Its Danish alt-pop band Oh No Ono’s new eerie video for “Swim” released on their new album Eggs. I’m strangely intrigued by Director Adam Hashemi’s creepy direction and yet the ending of the video left me wanting to  shower with my clothes on. Im also dumbfounded as to how the kid from the shining has only reached puberty and is acting in music videos?  I guess the idea is that puberty is confusing, and so is this strange journey into the Oedipal daydreams of a creepy kid.  redrum!

WAVVES: WAVVVES

wavves

Here is the new video for “No Hope Kids” from Wavves off the EP Wavvves.  If you have’nt been up on the hype, Wavves is a one-man noise-pop project of 22-year-old San Diegan Nathan Williams that borrows some tricks from Sonic Youth but puts his own Southern California surf/rock vibe on it. Vintage skate footage, fast vocal hooks, 60’s girl group drumbeats and no -fi punk pop distortion that creates insular, unsettling music of a stoner loner singing the blues in his bedroom.  Lines like “no car, no friends, no family, no friends, no girl” are instantly nostalgic and unforgettable but more surprisingly upbeat. Wavves’ has a lot of tricks but maybe his best is turning boredom, hopelessness, and angst into a form of revelry. A trick most good artists accomplish.

CLUES: LIVE AT SANTOS PARTY HOUSE

IMG_2135IMG_2322

Clues have penned the perfect band name. The whole band has managed to remain seemingly shrouded in mystery, a mystery that slowly seems to only unravel through their live performances. Who are Clues? What do they sound like? Why all the hype?

Clues came to New York’s Santos Party House last Wednesday.Having been both a fan of the Unicorns and Arcade Fire, Clues makes for an intriguing supergroup. Nevertheless, supergroups tend to fall flat in my opinion and whether it is egos getting in the way or trying to meld the sounds of the bands from whence the members came, it rarely appeals to me. For that reason, I was slow to pick up the Clues debut. However, once I finally did, I’ve hardly put it down. Having expected quirky Unicorns-esque lyrics over heaver chords, I was shocked to find one of the truly greatest rock albums I’ve come across in a very long time. Zach over at We Listen for You gave the album a perfect 10.0 score, and offered quite insightful analysis of the thematical elements of the album. Perhaps most interestingly was in pointing out the most beautiful and intriguing line from Haarp…“Will I be able to feel the difference…when you turn me on and off?”, to which they suggest the band views themselves as detached and any sort of “fame” to be fleeting.

I recall my feelings after having seen Arcade Fire (and the comparison isn’t merely because of Reed’s former time with the band). Having listened to Arcade Fire, I didn’t know what to expect but in seeing them I left saying quite simply that that was what a rock band should sound like. That is exactly how I felt leaving the Clues show. These guys played with an intensity and passion and brilliance that few bands can pull off. As noted above, the lyrics that pour out of this album have a timeless quality to them and ask very deep questions…something far too few bands are doing these days. At the same time, each member of the band was an instrumentalist and played them all with shockingly incredible skill. Additionally, I feel as though the band were doing some pretty amazing things, particularly with Reed on drums, but the utter darkness of the stage prevented me from seeing much of anything happening on stage (despite being in the first row). I would have really enjoyed seeing the band as they performed.

The set started off with an interesting tribal sounding intro and included most all of the album, including Haarp, You Have My Eyes Now, Cave Mouth, Crows, Remember Severed Head, and closing the set with the ecore Let’s Get Strong.

Starting off the night were the very talented Bridges and Powerlines. I had come across their debut some time ago and instantly enjoyed what they were doing. Synthy almost twee beats with often fairly minimal vocals and frequent harmonization, Bridges and Powerlines leave everyone in the crowd in a better mood than they’d been an hour earlier. Their track Uncalibrated (link)is one of the more lyric heavy tracks and shows a kind of depth that makes them appropriate to play with Clues, claiming “I could make it cold inside just by being here” and I imagine the fight that would ensue. I really enjoyed their performance and highly encourage that you check them out. Start with the track above and go deeper from there.

Drink up Buttercup was the disappointment for me of the night. For a band I’d heard so highly of, I was sad to see that the gimmick outshined the talent. Any regular reader knows that performance and stage presence is critical to my concert experience and I love bands that add something to change our idea of what a concert should be. First we’ll start with the positive…their animation made for a photographer’s dream (which is why they grace the front photo and the headliner’s flash photos take a backseat). Now for the negative….the problem was that singer James Harvey and Mike Cammarata seemed to be the only two trying to focus on playing their instruments while the other two would occasionally hit notes between dancing on stage or hitting things. We noticed garbage cans before the show and figured they would be a part of the act as they looked like they’d taken an unnatural beating. I was reminded of Stomp, except that in Stomp other surfaces were struck to create an interesting sound whereas here it seems it has more to do with making them look cool (it doesn’t). I rarely find myself so annoyed with a band, but Drink up Buttercup can proudly claim to have been so inane and pointless as to have provoked my fury and frustration. Also, it could have been that Ben Mazzochetti reminded me a little too much of Andy Sanberg who in turn makes me think about Joanna Newsom and thinking about Joanna Newsom while watching Drink up Buttercup pretend to be a band could cause loss of hearing, vision and lead to insanity. James and Mike need to go their own ways.

For more photos from the show and to read this review as well as others check out our good friends at BACKSEATSANDBAR

PETER BJORN & JOHN: LIVING THING

peterbjornandjohn_livingthing_88697453302_f_001_600x600300dpi75qrgb

Peep the new PB & J video for “It Don’t Move Me” off Living Thing, directed by Andreas and Filip Nilsson.  In the same vain as the video for “Nothing to Worry About“, there is some awesomely enthusiastic leg droppin’ here.  Keep watching…it just keeps getting better. The vid features a Napoleon Dynamite-esc Michael Jackson impersonator getting his Thriller moves on in random locales set to the Swedish indie trios uber catchy tune. Awesome dance move at 2:47.

THE DEPRECIATION GUILD: IN HER GENTLE JAWS

front4

This new video for “Dream about me” comes from Brooklyn-based band The Depreciation Guild. This is total 80’s revival.  A Synth pop love child of guitar-led Shoegaze and Nintendo. Band member Kurt Feldman,drummer from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart along with brothers Christoph and Anton Hochheim mix a highly nostalgic blend of melody driven spacey pop with a bass, percussion, and synth sound derived entirely from a Nintendo Famicon sound chip that gives their songs a very simplistic, MIDI like Super Nintendo feel. Added to this textured mix are Feldmans soaring vocals which remind me a little of My Bloody Valentine. You can download their debut album, In Her Gentle Jaws for free by clicking on the yellow strip on their web site.