Remix culture is a term used to describe a society which allows and encourages derivative works. Remix is defined as combining or editing existing materials to produce a new product. A Remix Culture would be, by default, permissive of efforts to improve upon, change, integrate, or otherwise remix the work of copyright holders. In his 2008 book, ‘Remix,’ Lawrence Lessig presents this as a desirable ideal and argues, among other things, that the health, progress, and wealth creation of a culture is fundamentally tied to this participatory remix process.
In his book, Lessig describes modern culture as ‘Read Only.’ In a Read Only culture, a small professional group produces all the culture that is then consumed by the masses. The public can only absorb and take in the culture, but it leaves no room to interact with the culture. This is analogous to a Read Only CD which allows only the viewing of its content. Modern consumptive culture is a form of permission culture. Advocates of copyright protection argue Read Only culture is necessary to nurture creativity. They argue that without protection of their work, artists would have no incentive to produce original material because their work will be taken and modified by others. By contrast, remix culture is a culture where the public is free to add, change, influence, and interact with their culture. This is analogous to a Read/Write CD where the owner can change their material on the disk. Amateur producers make and distribute the content. Lessig argues that Read/Write culture will nurture creativity by all individuals to produce and influence their culture. In this culture, all members are producers who continually consume, remix, and produce new material. By taking input of all the participants, the culture will become richer and more inclusive. Remix and participatory cultures can provide significant social benefits.
A remix is an alternative version of a recorded song, made from an original version. Sometimes this term is also used for alterations of media or recreation other than song (film, literature, beverages etc.). In remixing, a person (often a recording engineer or record producer) takes a familiar song, splits it into different parts called tracks, and changes the song’s music, instruments, layout, and or vocals to create a new version of the same song. It is called remixing due to mixing being the putting together of all the parts of a song, and remixing being the putting together of the parts of the song differently than the original. Remixers, that is, people who remix, are musicians who use a variety of tools, primarily electronic, to create the new song versions. Remixing can be simply moving song parts around; it can also be creating new music for an old song lyric. The most popular types of remixing are production remixing, where new instruments are used with the old song vocal, and mashups, in which two old songs are mixed together.
RiP!: A Remix Manifesto is a 2008 open source documentary film about the changing concept of copyright directed by Brett Gaylor. Created over a period of six years, the documentary film features the collaborative remix work of hundreds of people who have contributed to the Open Source Cinema website, helping to create the ‘world’s first open source documentary.’ Gaylor encourages people to create their own remixes from this movie, using media available from the Open Source Cinema website, or other websites like YouTube, Flickr, Hulu, or MySpace.
Yo Gabba Gabba! is an American children’s television show that airs on the Nick Jr. cable network. Created by Christian Jacobs (lead singer of the Aquabats) and Scott Schultz, the series premiered in 2007. Popular artists appearing on the show include The Killers, Jimmy Eat World, Solange Knowles, Devo, Of Montreal, Chromeo, My Chemical Romance, Weezer, The Roots, MGMT, Jack Black, Tony Hawk, Elijah Wood, and The Ting Tings. Among the varied animation sequences during the show is ‘Super Martian Robot Girl,’ designed by indie cartoonists Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer. The toy models of the characters that appear at the beginning and end of each show were made by designer toy firm Kidrobot.
Unlike most children’s shows, Yo Gabba Gabba was not developed by network executives. Instead the show was developed by two Southern California fathers with no previous experience writing for television let alone children’s broadcasting or education. They simply shared a mutual disappointment in kids’ television. They both wanted to design a kids’ show that was entertaining while featuring real artists and real performers. The pair first started working together as teenagers, producing and directing skateboarding videos. After doing some odd jobs here and there, Jacobs (also known as the MCBC of The Aquabats) and Schultz decided to try something different.
Kung Faux is a 2003 critically acclaimed action comedy television series and audio visual art assemblage created by postmodern revisionist Michael ‘Mic’ Neumann that remixes classic kung fu movies with popular music, comic book style editing with video game style special effects, and new storylines with voice-overs dubbed by contemporary art stars, hip hop personalities, and pop culture icons. ‘Revisionist Mic Neumann has an offering worthy of the Postmodernism canon, alongside Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Weekend’ and Luis Bunuel’s ‘Chien Andalou,” reported Steve Johnston of ‘The Film Cynics.’
Notable visuals, music and voice-over work was performed by the likes of hip-hop artists De La Soul, Guru, Masta Ace, and Queen Latifah, while other ‘Kung Faux’ artists and performers range from underground to legendary, and contemporary, including Dave Kinsey, KAWS, Steve Powers, break dancer Crazy Legs, Elephant Man, Afrika Bambaataa, Biz Markie, Jean Grae, Roc Raida, Sadat X, Ron van Clief and Harold Hunter.
Nina Paley (b. 1968) is an American cartoonist, animator and free culture activist. She directed the animated feature film ‘Sita Sings the Blues.’ She was the artist and often the writer of comic strips ‘Nina’s Adventures’ and ‘Fluff,’ but most of her recent work has been in animation. Her early short films include ‘Fetch!,’ ‘The Stork,’ and ‘The Wit & Wisdom of Cancer.’ Paley was born in Urbana, Illinois, to Hiram and Jean Paley in an American Jewish family. Her father was a mathematics professor at the University of Illinois and was mayor of Urbana, where they resided, for a term in the early 1970s. She attended local elementary and high schools, illustrating a ‘History of the North Pole’ comic in collaboration with University High School history teacher Chris Butler, and attended the University of Illinois, studying art for two years.
Her first animation was made when she was 13, it was recorded on Super-8 reels. Her first animation as an adult was short story ‘Follow your Bliss.’ Her second clay animation, ‘I Heart My Cat,’ was shot on a Krasnogorsk camera. These two, along with the ‘Cancer,’ were found on VHS with description ‘NINA PALEY DEMO REEL 1998.’ in 2012, Paley decided to publish them under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license. In 1988, Paley moved to Santa Cruz, California, and began to write and draw the strip ‘Nina’s Adventures.’ In 1991, she moved to San Francisco. In 1995, she began to draw the more mainstream ‘Fluff,’ a comic strip about a cat, which enjoyed a modest success in syndication. In 1998, she also began to experiment with animation.
MSTRKRFT (pronounced ‘Master-craft’) is an electronic music duo from Toronto. The group was started in 2005 by Jesse F. Keeler of Death from Above 1979 and Al-P (Alex Puodziukas) formerly of the Ontario electropop group Girlsareshort. Al-P was also the producer for Death from Above 1979′s album ‘You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine’ as well as several of (Jesse’s former band) Black Cat #13′s records. The duo have been close friends, as well as work partners, for a long time. MSTRKRFT also produced Die Mannequin’s first EP, ‘How to Kill,’ and Magneta Lane’s second LP, ‘Dancing With Daggers.’ The band took out the vowels from their name in order to avoid trademark infringement with Mastercraft, a Canadian tools company. MSTRKRFT have been commissioned to remix songs by such artists as Death From Above 1979, Kylie Minogue, Katy Perry, Justice, Bloc Party, Ayumi Hamasaki, Metric, Wolfmother, Annie, and The Kills.
Mount Kimbie is a British electronic music duo consisting of Dominic Maker and Kai Campos. They formed the group in London in 2008 and released their debut album ‘Crooks & Lovers’ in 2010 in the UK to critical acclaim. Mount Kimbie are currently working on their second album which will be released on Warp Records. Arguably responsible for the term ‘post-dubstep,’ the duo has released a series of EPs and their highly praised debut album. ‘The Guardian’ described the pair as ‘leading an exploratory breakaway from bass-heavy dubstep towards a lighter, hazier style of electronica rich with drowsy ambience and chopped-up found sounds.’ The pair are closely linked to friend, producer and ‘BBC Sound of’ 2011 runner-up, James Blake. He has collaborated with them live and lent his skills to the remixing of ‘Maybes,’ as well as contributing elements to ‘Crooks & Lovers.’
Copyright Criminals is a 2010 documentary film directed and produced by Benjamin Franzen examining the creative and the commercial value of sampling including the related debates over artistic expression, copyright law, and money. Copyright Criminals was funded by the Ford Foundation, University of Iowa, and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. It premiered in 2010 at the Toronto Film Festival. Sampling is when musicians make an audio montage taking a portion, or sample, of a sound recording and reusing, remixing or reworking it as a separate instrumental layer or loop into another song. The documentary contains interviews with several sampling artist pioneers, including hip-hop groups. A longtime area of contention from a legal perspective, early sampling used portions of other artists’ recordings without permission. Once hip-hop, rap and other music incorporating sampling began generating a noticeably substantial income, the original artists began to take legal action, claiming copyright infringement and demanding high-sum royalties. Sampling artists fought back, claiming fair use (an exception in copyright law). The documentary took five years to finish (2004–2009). It is the debut film for Franzen, a graduate of University of Iowa and founder of Atlanta-based production company Changing Images, and McLeod, a professor specializing in copyright law at University of Iowa.
Eclectic Method is the name of an audio-visual remix act, originally formed in London in 2001 by Geoff Gamlen, Ian Edgar, Johnny Wilson. They quickly developed Eclectic Method’s audio-visual style into a live performance featuring video turntables (Pioneer DVJ-1000) – mixing the visuals and audio in real time. As a live act, they have traveled around the world playing hundreds of gigs in Asia, North America, South America, Europe and the Middle East. After their early period, creating what were considered ‘bootleg’ and ‘unofficial’ video remixes, Eclectic Method were called upon by artists like Fatboy Slim & U2 and by film, video, and television companies such as New Line Cinema and Palm Pictures to create custom audio-visual remixes. Greg Deocampo began working with the trio in 2006 on advanced research and development initiatives involving live, online, and blimp-based video. Eclectic Method appears as one of the featured artists on ‘Copyright Criminals,’ a 2009 documentary film directed and produced by Benjamin Franzen and Kembrew McLeod examining the creative and the commercial value of sampling.
Assemblage [uh-sem-blij] refers to a text ‘built primarily and explicitly from existing texts in order to solve a writing or communication problem in a new context.’ The concept was first proposed by Johndan Johnson-Eilola (author of ‘Datacloud’) and Stuart Selber in the journal, ‘Computers & Composition,’ in 2007. The notion of assemblages builds on remix practices, which blur distinctions between invented and borrowed work. Johnson-Eilola and Selber discuss the intertextual nature of writing, and they assert that participation in existing discourse necessarily means that composition cannot occur separate from that discourse. They state that ‘productive participation involves appropriation and re-appropriation of the familiar’ in a manner that conforms to existing discourse and audience expectations.
In reference to intertextuality (the shaping of texts’ meanings by other texts), Johnson-Eilola and Selber cite ‘The Social Life of Information’ by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid. In this book the authors state that the meaning of and use for a text is directly influenced both by its source texts and the broader textual context in which in participates. Building upon this notion, Johnson-Eilola and Selber position assemblage as a style of composition situated within postmodernism. They state that ‘in a general sense, postmodern theories, and following them, cultural studies, offer a useful way of understanding assemblages (and the related process of remixing) as simultaneously social and textual structures.’ Johnson-Eilola and Selber suggest that texts should always be treated as assemblages since composition is often highly intertextual. They believe that composition should be undertaken as a problem solving activity rather than demonstration of original ideas.
In music, sampling is the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a sound recording in a different song or piece. Sampling was originally developed by experimental musicians working with musique concrète and electroacoustic music, who physically manipulated tape loops or vinyl records on a phonograph. In the late 1960s, the use of tape loop sampling influenced the development of minimalist music and the production of psychedelic rock and jazz fusion. In the 1970s, DJs manipulating vinyl on turntables gave birth to hip hop music, the first popular music genre based originally around the art of sampling. The widespread use of sampling in popular music increased with the rise of electronic music and disco in the mid 1970s to early 1980s, the development of electronic dance music and industrial music in the 1980s, and the worldwide influence of hip hop since the 1980s on genres ranging from contemporary R&B to indie rock. Since that time sampling is often done with a sampler, originally a piece of hardware, but today, more commonly a computer program. Vinyl emulation software may also be used, however, and many turntablists continue to sample using traditional methods. The inclusion of sampling tools in modern digital production methods increasingly introduced sampling into many genres of popular music, as well as genres predating the invention of sampling, such as classical music, jazz and various forms of traditional music.
Often ‘samples’ consist of one part of a song, such as a rhythm break (an instrumental or percussion interlude, a ‘break’ from the main parts), which is then used to construct the beat for another song. For instance, hip hop music developed from DJs repeating the breaks from songs to enable continuous dancing. The ‘Funky drummer break’ and the ‘Amen break,’ both brief fragments taken from soul and funk music recordings of the 1960s, have been among the most common samples used in dance music and hip hop of recent decades, with some entire subgenres (e.g., breakbeat) being based largely on complex permutations of a single one of these samples. Samples from rock recordings have also been the basis of new songs; for example, the drum introduction from Led Zeppelin’s ‘When the Levee Breaks’ was sampled by the Beastie Boys, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Mike Oldfield, Rob Dougan, Coldcut, Depeche Mode, and Erasure, among others. Often, samples are not taken from other music, but from spoken words, including those in non-musical media such as movies, TV shows and advertising. Sampling does not necessarily mean using pre-existing recordings. A number of composers and musicians have constructed pieces or songs by sampling field recordings they made themselves, and others have sampled their own original recordings. The musicians in the trip hop band Portishead, for example, made some use of existing samples, but also scratched, manipulated and sampled musical parts they themselves had originally played in order to construct their songs.
A mixtape is the generic name given to any compilation of songs recorded onto a Compact Cassette, Compact Disc, music file, or any other audio format. A mixtape, which usually reflects the musical tastes of its compiler, can range from a casually selected list of favorite songs, to a conceptual mix of songs linked by a theme or mood, to a highly personal statement tailored to the tape’s intended recipient. Essayist Geoffrey O’Brien has called the personal mix tape ‘the most widely practiced American art form.’ Mixtape enthusiasts believe that by carefully selecting and ordering the tracks in a mix, an artistic statement can be created that is greater than the sum of its individual songs. With the advent of affordable, consumer-level digital audio, creating and distributing mixes in the form of compact disc or MP3 playlists has become the contemporary method of choice, but the term mix tape is still commonly used, even for mixes in different media.Video mixtapes have emerged as well.
Electro house is a subgenre of house music influenced by 1980s music. The term has been used to describe the music of many of the world’s top DJs, such as David Guetta, deadmau5, Skrillex, and Tiësto. Electro house, sometimes resembling tech house (a hybrid of techno with house), typically retains elements of house music and can incorporate electro-influenced synths and samples. It often has a ‘dirty’ bass sound created from saw waves with compression and distortion. The exact origins of the genre are uncertain; it has sometimes been seen as a fusion of electro and house; or a term using ‘electro’ as an adjective (meaning ‘futuristic’ or ‘hard’). French house, by artists such as Justice and especially Daft Punk, has also been considered a strong influence.
Anton Zaslavski (b. 1989) known primarily by his stage name Zedd is a German electronic dance music producer. He primarily produces in the electro house genre, but has branched out, drawing influences from progressive house, complextro (electro house), and dubstep. Anton is a classically trained musician, born from two musicians, who began playing the piano and drums at the age of four. In 2002 he began playing for the German band, Dioramic. Anton’s interest in producing electronic music was piqued after hearing ‘Cross’ by French electronic duo Justice. He began producing electronic music in 2009. Under the name ‘Zedd,’ Anton has produced a wide variety of remixes and originals. He first made waves in the scene when he won two different Beatport remix contests. He has since produced remixes of well-known artists including The Black Eyed Peas, Fatboy Slim, and Skrillex. Anton creates his music using the ‘Cubase’ suite of music production applications, and takes advantage of different plug-ins including the ‘Sylenth1,’ ‘Nexus,’ and ‘Omnisphere’ synthesizers.
In 2011, Zedd’s remixes of Lady Gaga’s tracks ‘Born This Way’ and ‘Marry the Night’ would appear on the ‘Born This Way Deluxe Edition’ releases. In 2012, Zedd signed with Interscope Records and released his debut single from the label, ‘Spectrum,’ with vocals by Matthew Koma. He then produced the Eva Simons song, ‘I Don’t Like You,’ which was also released on Interscope. He also co-produced the track ‘Beauty and a Beat’ with Max Martin for Justin Bieber’s third studio album, ‘Believe.’