François K Reflects On The Everlasting Legacy Of Larry Levan And Paradise Garage

Strange, isn’t it, that the most famous, well-loved, and highly-regarded nightclub of all time, is one that I’m pretty sure none of us have ever been to. None of us spent sweaty Saturday nights at 84 King Street, Lower Manhattan, watching Larry Levan play to a members-only crowd at the Paradise Garage, but it doesn’t stop us speaking of the space in hushed tones. Without the Paradise Garage, we think, we feel, we believe, club culture as we know it wouldn’t exist.

Read more about Paradise Garage

One man who was lucky enough to worship in those hallowed halls week after week is Franois Kevorkian. Kervorkian moved to New York City in 1975, and quickly found notoriety as a DJ. While it wasn’t his chosen profession (“I thought I was going to be a drummer in a band”) the city was lacking in both clubs and selectors and the Frenchman found himself able to score regular gigs. 40 years on he’s regarded as one of the greatest DJs to ever do it.

As a producer, remixer, and DJ, Franois K’s seen, and done, it all. I was lucky enough to speak to him ahead of a series of UK shows later in the summer. It made sense to focus on a topic that he knew intimately, and I was desperate to delve into: Larry Levan and the Paradise Garage. Kervorkian was both a Garage regular, and Levan’s occasional co-DJ, so if there was anyone out there who’d be able to paint the picture I wanted to see, it was him.

THUMP: Let’s get into the real meaty subject here. Can you remember the first the first time you ever saw Larry Levan playing out?
Franois K: It was at a Construction party at the Garage, which was before the main room opened. It held about 400 people. A friend of mine knew Larryhe was the guy who gave Larry a DJing gig at the Continental Baths actually. This friend was the manager of a club I was working at called New York, New York. He took me down to the then-unopened venue, and it was like a warehouse party basically. This was in August, 1977, and the place was steaming, it was so intense. Larry was playing music that was mesmerizing. The crowd were so enraptured by it, and him. I’d been to other great clubs, but nothing like that. It was unbelievable, and Larry had a very charismatic approach to music. When he played a song you felt like he was playing it for you. It felt like the song that was on was on because you liked it. That’s a remarkable feeling. I had no idea who Larry was at the time, either.

Was it ever conceivable that he’d become this elemental touchstone, this totem of all things clubbing?
When we threw a street party in Manhattanto have the part of King Street where the Garage was renamed to Larry Levan way22,000 people showed up. That’s how devoted people still are. When you talk to people who were there you can sense that it was not a normal club. That’s not to say bad things about other clubs, but it was on a different level altogether, and Larry himself was the incarnation of that.

The Garage was a members club, and you could only visit if you were a member or knew a member. And that created a reverence for the club, for the parties. It’s not fair to compare what happens in clubbing today to that. The Garage will always be something to reference. It’s like being a jazz fanColtrane might not be around any more but understanding what he did then is central to understanding what you do now. While Larry owed a huge debt to people like David Mancuso and Nicky Siano, he became this foundational figure. When you’re getting to that level of cultural relevance you transcend trend and become timeless.

There’s little in the way of photo or video evidence of the club, has that helped build the mystique around it do you think?
Some people might think that it’s a real shame that you can’t see much of the club on YouTube, but someone else might argue that a lot of things happened in history before YouTube and we’re still aware of how important they are. While there isn’t footage there is testimony. We have that website full of memories of former Garage-goers. People have taken time to write these things down, to document their favorite moments, parties. This was a place that served the needs of a private group of people in a small, tight knit community. Now everything’s about Facebook likes and social media activity.

There is something fundamentally different in the approach people have to clubbing these days: it’s profit driven. The Garage didn’t serve alcohol, they didn’t have a liquor license, there was no bar in the middle of the dancefloor. The club owner of the Garage was really, really devoted to music, to the community. It was first and foremost a gay clubnot exclusively but largely straight people went on Friday, gay people on Saturday. Back then, in 1977, being gay wasn’t as easy as it was today. Having a private club like that acted like a safe harbor. It was a space where people could relax. They could enjoy themselves away from the way society was treating them.

How did the Garage crowd differ from what Mancuso was doing at the Loft?
There was an overlap, for sure. Most of the crowd at the Garage on a Saturday night knew each other. Membership was around 4,000 people, but the most people there at any given night was about 2,000. There were a lot of what you’d call ‘normal’ people therepeople with jobs in offices. There were a lot of very successful people, lawyers, music business people. People didn’t have to use their credit card to show their social standing.

Larry, by the way, enjoyed both clubs. So many times after a party at the Garage he’d lead us down there to see what David was doing. The Garage typically closed at 9 or 10 and the Loft might be open till 1 or 2 in the afternoon. It was a short walk from King Street to the Loft on Prince Street, and Larry himself was a big Mancuso fan, and I heard him mention countless times that in his mind no one compared to David Mancuso. It wasn’t even the songs he picked: it was the direction, the idea that there was someone who could conceptualize what a party should and shouldn’t be, and did it in his own home. Larry was keenly aware of how amazing and prescient Mancuso was.

Watch NYC Icon Danny Krivit Reflect on Paradise Garage, Jimi Hendrix, and 45 Years Behind the Booth

The police challenged David and told him he couldn’t throw parties in his own house. He said he could, and they could sue him if they were right. So the city of New York sued David Mancuso, and David Mancuso won. It set up a landmark case, it set a precedent in the law that the police had no right to tell people what they could and couldn’t do in their own home. Larry was in awe of all these things David had done for the community.

Finally, what’s the ultimate Garage record?
Let’s pick a record Larry worked on, and it’ll be “Don’t Make Me Wait” by the Peech Boys. It was a signature record for the club, and people forget that this was the first record to have an a capella mix, which was a genius move on Larry’s part. It was only on the b-side of the 7″ and everyone had to have it. Within six months of that everyone was putting a cappella’s out. You had to be there, of course, but there’s no question that when the track was in gestation it sounded so so incredible in that club. There are other records like “Love Sensation” or “Love is the Message” that everyone knows are big Garage records, but for me “Don’t Make Me Wait” is the one. These records, the Peech Boys ones, still sound absolutely amazing. They’ve not dated whatsoever. That’s the trademark of something worth remembering.

Franois K will be bringing his Body & Soul party to the 51st State festival on August the 6th and there’s more information here. He’ll also be at Odyssia, too.

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We Crunched The Numbers And Electronic Music Festivals Still Have A Gender Equality Problem

Graphics by Rodney Hazard and Anelisa Rosario.

In 2016, female producers and DJs are arguably more visible than ever. Just this past weekend, Seattle was home to the first edition of TUFFest, a festival devoted exclusively to female, female-identified, non-binary, and trans electronic musicians. Collectives like Brooklyn’s Discwoman and Germany’s Female:Pressure are making waves showcasing the work of cis women, trans women, and genderqueer DJs in clubs across the globe. And over on the fan side, initiatives like Electric Forest’s HerForest and Shambhala’s Women’s Safe Space are working to foster a feeling of community and safety among female festival-goers.

Still, when it comes to gender equality, the dance world still has a long way to go. Forbes’ list of top-earning DJs in 2015 was male through and throughas was Billboard’s “3rd Annual Power List of DJs and Execs” in the space this year, with a few exceptions. DJ Mag’s 25-year anniversary issue included not one female among the 25 dance music pioneers it set out to celebrate, even though women have been making electronic music since the dawn of the synthesizer. Boiler Room, despite frequently spotlighting female artists in their programming, announced that they’d be hiring moderators to monitor their comment sections last month, after performances by Swedish collective Staycore and Glaswegian producer Nightwave were met with a with a slew of sexist, racist, transphobic, and bullying chatter.

Of course, these numbers and incidents don’t exist in a vacuummore than isolated events, they’re symptoms of a system that in many ways is rigged against women and women-identifying individuals from the start. Here at THUMP, we get reminders of this structural inequality nearly every daymost frequently, in the overwhelmingly male-dominated festival line-ups that find their way into our inboxes.

Because the number of female-identifying producers and DJs actually getting paid to perform is a pretty good indication of how even (or uneven) the playing field is, in 2014, we came up with the idea of tallying the gender breakdown at electronic music festivals around the world. This year, we’re doing it again, with a survey of 24 festivals that took place during the first half of 2016. Some of the festivals we reached out to had this information on handmany didn’t, so we had to do the counting ourselves.

Below, we’ve illustrated these numbers for you in 24 handy infographics. Acts identifying as male are indicated with a “man” sign. Acts with one or more female-identifying members are indicated with a “woman” sign. We recognize that our counting methods aren’t perfect: some of the acts we qualified as “female” actually contain more male-identifying members than female-identifying ones, and distilling the full spectrum of gender identity and expression into two categories is admittedly reductive (though we did indicate the presence of non-binary performers where applicable).

Still, we hope that the results will be as eye-opening for you as they were for us. Beyond Wonderland had the lowest number of female-identified artistsat 3.2 percent, or two out of 63 artists totalwhile CTM had the highest, at 45 percent, or 45 out of 100 artists.

Festivals with more EDM-focused programminglike Beyond Wonderland, EDC, and Ultraand festivals specializing in big-room house and technolike Time Warp and Movementtended towards lower female-to-male ratios; festivals catering to a more niche, experimental-minded audience, meanwhilelike CTM, RBMA NYC, and Mutek Montrealtypically boasted a higher percentage of women. (Though any patterns that present themselves in such a necessarily limited sample should of course be taken with a grain of salt.)

Of all our findings, one was the most encouraging: Mysteryland, Mutek Montreal, Movement, EDC, and Ultraall festivals we surveyed two years agohad a higher percentage of female-identified artists in 2016 than they did in 2014, with Mutek boasting the most impressive increase, from 9.6% to 28.9%. That said, one sad reality remained: none of the festivals we crunched the numbers for reached parity. In other words, even though things may be slowly improving, there’s still more work to be done.

Compiled with help from Eric Linsker and THUMP Staff.

Portable Uses Sign Language To Lament Earth's Disintegration In Latest Video

Veteran South African producer, Portable, has shared the contemplative, dispirited video for “Say It’s Going To Change,” the first official single off his forthcoming Alan Abrahams album. In the self-directed clip, we find Abrahams in isolation against an arid desert climatewhich he tells us via email is the volcanic Lanzarote island in the Canariessinging the song in sign language, lamenting disintegrating social relations and an earth unnaturally divided by human imposition.

“I decided to film ‘Say It’s Going To Change’ on the Spanish island of Lanzarote because of its volcanic terrain, and its desolate landscape,” Portable told THUMP. “One gets a kind of sense of being on another planet, after some kind of war or global warming disaster, and I thought that fits perfectly with the theme of the song.”

Portable’s “Moving, Trains & You” is the deep, dusky, and spectral closing track of his recent EP designed for Lovers & Players. Acclaimed German selector DJ Koze also did a special edit of the producer’s delicately lithe “Surrender” for his DJ-Kicks mix last year.

Alan Abrahams will be out August 19 on !K7 and is available for preorder here.

How A New Festival For Female, Non-Binary, And Trans Artists Plans To Crush The Patriarchy (Eventually)

Photos by Valerie Calano

It was mid-afternoon on Saturday, July 9 and the music at TUFFESTa new, two-day festival in Seattle’s Judkins Park dedicated exclusively to female-identified, non-binary, and trans artistshad just begun. The sun peeked out, then skittered behind clouds, with a make-up-your-mind ambivalence typical to Seattle summers. The few people dancing to the textural, warped vinyl sounds of festival opener EOSIN were enough to fit under a small tent, and scattered groups of friends in the park laid around on blankets as a faint waft of weed drifted in the air.

In an age where lineups are still overwhelmingly dominated by white, cis men, TUFFEST’s emphasis on uplifting, expanding and celebrating the female, non-binary, and trans electronic music community is much-needed. Its political undertones have also helped the inaugural festival stand out in the laid-back, indie label-driven scene that defines the Pacific Northwest (think K Records and Sub Pop).

During the day, the free and open-to-the-public portion of the festival included interactive visual art installations, musical performances, and workshops with women in creative industries. At night, the “TUFFEST ’till Dawn” afterparty took over an arts space in Seattle’s industrial district for the night, feeding techno-hungry locals with the likes of 1080p-affiliated UMFANG and Cologne-based DJ Lena Willikens. A coding performance by custom synth builder Kaori Suzuki, downtempo ambient artist Patricia Hall of the Soft Metals, experimental hip-hop MC DoNormaal, and epic sound collagist Elysia Crampton were among the other highlights.

The festival is an ambitious first for TUF, an electronic music and digital art collective in Seattle for intersectional and female-identified artists. TUF started online in 2015 as a private Facebook groupa place where women living in Seattle and the surrounding areas could share tracks and gear tips, talk about upcoming shows around town, and generally interact in a space free from the relentless whine of mansplainers.

After their first IRL meeting in the jam-packed Capitol Hill living room of TUF founder Katherine Humphreys, the group grew to include more than 80 members who bonded over a shared need to carve out their own musical turf in a male-dominated industry.

“I think it just didn’t exist before,” says Humphreys says of the community that TUF has built. “It’s really disheartening to go to electronic shows and see all of these men hanging out with each other and feel like none of the women in the room know each other.”

The TUF crew says this year’s TUFFEST is just the beginningthey hope to put on the event every year, giving even more women, non-binary, queer and trans people a place at the (turn)table. Here are five reasons why the festival will crush the music industry patriarchyeventually:

1. It’s already shaking up Seattle’s festival scene.

TUFFEST’s goal of inciting social change through highlighting female electronic stars sets it apart from other festivals in the Northwest. (Just look at the guitar-driven and male-dominated lineups of Bumbershoot, Sasquatch, and Timber for example). Plus, with one of Seattle’s best-known electronic festivals, Decibel, recently announcing its hiatus, there is a real chance for TUFFEST to fill the void while pushing its progressive social mission.

2. It asked cis white men to get in the back of the line.

TUFFEST organizer Cecilia Corsano-Leopizzi cut her teeth booking for Decibel, and said the experience helped her appreciate how educational workshops can be a platform to expose people to new technology. “I just want to take that one step further and make it more accessible,” she told THUMP.

To that end, TUFFEST gave female-identified, non-binary and LGBTQAI people first access to sign-up forms for workshops on subjects like sound production and modular synthesis. At least one workshop, x=Synth with Kaori Suzuki, did not accept new applicants who were cis white men once it started to become full.

“What I found is that whenever there’s a mixed gender class, women tend to step back, listen, and wait, and men tend to step forward, and jump right in,” explained Natalie Bayne from Seattle Sound Girls, a nonprofit that teaches audio production skills to young women and girls in afterschool programs and summer camps. Bayne said she taught a workshop on how to set up sound-systems and PAs to counter the lack of opportunities for women to “tinker around with intimidating-looking gear.”

Though you’d never know it from her fierce and vigorous techno set at the TUFFEST afterparty, Discwoman co-founder and DJ/producer UMFANG (AKA Emma Burgess-Olson) said she spent far too much time in the beginning of her career being timid. Olson taught an intro to drum machines workshop where she encouraged a curious group of young women to try their hands at recording sequences using a Boss Dr. Groove drum machine and a Roland TR-8.

“It’s important to remember that we all have the same starting point,” Olson told THUMP. “I had to ask the same questions that some famous man once had to ask, too. No one knows how a drum machine works when they’re a baby. They learn.”

3. It also made men think.

Many men at TUFFEST were supportive of the festival, and found the female-driven sets both impressive and refreshing.”Techno is such a male-dominated industry,” said one festival goer named Tim, “yet so much of it originally was a lot of women who were involved. It became this major dude-nerd thing, so it’s nice to see people recognizing that this shouldn’t have to be just a male-focused activity.”

Another male festival-goer who came to the afternoon shows commendably checked his privilege, saying he held back on going to the workshops, even though he was curious about them, so that others could have a chance. “I didn’t want to be that straight guy, you know, going in there and guying up the place with my guy vibes,” he said.

4. It made racial diversity a priority in one of America’s whitest cities.

Seattle is one of the whitest cities in the country, according to data released in 2015 by the Census Bureau. And white people in Seattle often don’t have a very easy time talking about it.

“There’s sort of this weird intellectual superiority that happens in the Pacific Northwest, where people feel like since the coffee’s hella good, they couldn’t possibly be racist or something,” said Hollis Wong Wear, musician in The Flavr Blue and frequent Macklemore collaborator. TUFFEST took on the issue head-on, hosting Wear on a panel about dismantling institutional racism in the arts, and booking local performers-of-color like MC Sassyblack and Jenn Green, DoNormaal, and Jessica Duran of Succubass.

Renee Jarreau Greene, a panelist and DJ who started a queer and trans people of color dance party in Seattle called Darqness, said it’s important to remember that “nightlife spaces have always been inherently political and radical… especially since we are all affected by white supremacy, and living in such a very white city.”

“Marginalized people in this city have found that they have to build their own spaces here,” Greene noted.

5. It gave politically engaged artists like Elysia Crampton headlining spots for the first time.

Formerly producing as an epic collagist under the name E&E, Virginia-based Elysia Crampton started gaining traction from her high-concept first album American Drift, released last year. But TUFFEST was the first time the self-proclaimed “transevangelist” headlined a festival in the US.

It was past 9pm when she started weaving a fragmented tapestry of feral beats, live vocals and keys, and pop cultural references, all nightmarishly contorted and sonically rich. Coiled into her set were shards of words that were deeply political and personal: a quote from a Bolivian trans activist, a futuristic folktale about a trans justice movement from Latin America, and a poem about finding love amidst modern colonialism.

“The political context of my music just happened that way because it couldn’t be otherwise,” Crampton told THUMP over email. “Having to deal with the terms of livingstuff that I never had the language for, but which materially affected memade me subject/target to family/civic/state violence, and separated me from my own history and from the kinship network I desperately needed in order to survive.”

By giving Crampton a headlining spot, making education accessible to often-marginalized communities, and putting other female identified, trans and queer artists on center stage, TUFFEST mixed politics and music in a way that will open doors for others to follow.

This Age-Old Music Composition Trick Might Be The Real Reason You're So Obsessed With Pokémon Go

This article was originally published on THUMP Mexico.

According to Fortune, Pokmon Go has already been installed on more than 5% of all Android devices in the US in just it’s first week in existence, so there’s a good chance you’ve already heard about the app that’s giving Twitter engagement a run for its money. But what you may have not read about in the multitude of thinkpieces across your news feed is how the game’s music adds to Pokmon Go‘s addictive power. If you’ve never delved into the music of the games, you should head to a steaming platform like Spotify, where various Pokmon game’s albums have increased already more than 360% since their launch.

This game’s tunes are all the work of Japanese composer, Junichi Masuda, who has been commissioned to oversee and create the tracks of each and every Pokmon game since the series first launched on Game Boy in the 1996. But what is about Masuda’s Pokmusic that creates such a perfect environment for the epic adventure the world can’t get enough of? In a recent YouTube video on a channel called Ongaku Concept, presenter Joshua Taipale suggests it’s all a result of Masua’s use of something called Modal Interchange in his compositions.

To put it in simpler terms, Modal Interchange is a method of borrowing chords from a parallel key without abandoning the original tone of a note. By doing this, a composer can extend beyond the normal scale that applies to specific key, like F Major for example, by borrowing from the parallel minor scale (F minor) that has a similar sounding tone. This can often evoke a more powerful emotion in a musical cadence.

The technique can prove useful in many genres, and as Taipale explains in the video, its use can help generate instantly heroic and exciting feeling, especially when mixed with the built-in cinematic nature of orchestral sounds. This is certainly the case in the music of Pokmon Go, which is full of sounds, strings, modal exchanges, and many synths that help provide a little extra pizzazz to your quest.

Check out more in the video below, and happy hunting.

James Blake Talks Working With Beyoncé And Saying No To Drake In New Interview

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Today English musician, James Blake, shared an audio interview on Spotify’s new Secret Genius show, where he talks about working on Beyonc‘s Lemonade, his conversation with Drake‘s camp about his 2014 single “0 to 100/The Catchup”, and more.

In the interview Blake says that upon entering the studio to record his collaboration with Knowles, he rejected the lyrics the engineer had ready for him: “I’ve never sung anybody else’s lyrics, so I just assumed that’s not I was going to be doing,” he says. “So I got my phone out and sang some of my own lyrics that were about something else and about somebody else. But it fit somehow into the song and it fit into the album, and I’m just honored that they used it.” Blake also said that after the experience he has “an appetite to work with her more.”

Later, he discusses a scenario where he asked Drake’s team to pull a sample of his work from the original, unofficially released version of “0 to 100/The Catchup.” Explaining his decision, he said that it was “a matter of principle,” and that he had “only sent it as a collaborative idea, not to be sampled on a record.” Check out the interview in the embed below.

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Why A Canadian Composer’s Controversial 80s Work Is Still Ahead Of Today's Copyright Laws

This article was originally published on THUMP Canada.

Plunderphonic cover artwork courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In May 2016, Germany’s highest court ruled in favor of an artist who sampled percussion from Kraftwerk’s 1977 song “Metal On Metal,” declaring the impact on the krautrock band did not outweigh “artistic freedom.” The same week, a United States judge ruled that the two second “horn hit” sampled in Madonna’s “Vogue” qualified as “de minimis,” and therefore was too short to be considered of any consequence. These decisions contradicted the precedent set by two major lawsuits in the US regarding copyright law, 1991’s Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records Inc. and 2005’s Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films. In their likening of sampling to flat-out theft, neither case did much to advance how copyright is understood or policed. Although we still don’t have fair and equitable sampling laws for songwriters or rights-holders, both of the former verdicts were hailed as steps in the right direction, recognizing nuances of the art and practice that have historically been ignored.

Nearly 30 years ago, Toronto composer John Oswald anticipated these questions around authorship, originality, and copyright that we’re still grappling with today, with his controversial work Plunderphonic. “Plunderphonics” is the term he created in a 1985 essay on the subject to describe his technique of sampling or “electro-quoting.” The accompanying album of the same title is comprised of songs made entirely of such electro-quotes, which he distributed for free like a Canadian avant-garde precursor to Girl Talk. Despite ensuring his sample sources were properly credited, Oswald’s project drew the attention of the recording industry and their lawyers, who served him with numerous cease-and-desist letters. The threat of legal action was very real, as sampling had yet to be tested in court, but the threat his work posed to copyright was even greater, affirming just how integral sampling would become in songwriting practice.

Read More on THUMP: The THUMP Guide to Music Copyright

“It seemed like a risk. It seemed like a risk worth taking,” Oswald tells THUMP over coffee in a Toronto bakery. His introduction to sampling started early at the age of nine, when his parents got him a reel-to-reel player, but it was his time at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University during the 1970s that showed him the possibilities and ethics of the art form. There, he worked with the research group World Soundscape Project, led by R. Murray Schafer, as they listened to and recorded sounds from their surroundings, like church bells or foghorns, to use in their compositions. Oswald says he appreciated the fact that Schafer and his team wouldn’t disguise their source material, and that the point of using found sounds in their compositions was that they would be recognizable to the listener.

Things got messier when his source-material shifted from fog horns to pop songs, though he would argue that the latter was just another kind of surrounding. In his 1985 essay, “Plunderphonics, or Audio Piracy as a Compositional Prerogative,” he argued that copyright law prevents the act of quotation in music. “Musical language has an extensive repertoire of punctuation devices but nothing equivalent to literature’s ” ” quotation marks,” he wrote. “Without a quotation system, well-intended correspondences cannot be distinguished from plagiarism and fraud.” He cited the long history of the tape recorder being used as an instrument in musique concrte as an example of already established practices of quotation in music culture that didn’t raise any copyright red flags. Technological advances like digital samplers and cassette tapes were making it easier and easier for creators to sample or quote, while copyright law was working to contravene the practice.

Plunderphonics EP cover artwork courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Three years later, Oswald decided to self-release a four-song vinyl EP of his plunderphonic material, which featured transformations of Dolly Parton, Igor Stravinsky, Count Basie, and Elvis Presley. He gave copies of the EP to radio stations, libraries, and anyone who asked, following up the project with a full-length CD of 25 compositions in 1989. Again he chose to give proper credit to his source material, and offered the album to whoever wasn’t turned off by the artwork, an image of Michael Jackson’s head pasted on the body of a naked white woman. Oswald describes his reconfiguration of the American singer’s chart-topping hit “Bad,” dubbed “Dab,” as one of the most complicated pieces on the record. It starts off sounding familiar enough with Jackson’s original memorable bassline hook guiding the song, but the phasing technique the composer used to edit the original starts to rear its head, and that hook hiccups as the pop star’s voice becomes a spectral version of itself.

It’s unclear whether it was the provocative cover or the music that got the attention of the Canadian Recording Industry Association, but after releasing Plunderphonic in November 1989, Oswald was served with a cease-and-desist letter a month later on Christmas Eve. He recalls getting several phone prior calls from CRIA president Brian Robertson, who had a lot of questions for him, but was cagey about why he was so curious. (THUMP reached out to Music Canada but they declined to comment. Robertson retired as president in 2009, shortly before the CRIA rebranded as Music Canada.)

The first cease-and-desist sent by Toronto-based law firm Cassels, Brock & Blackwell, ordered that he track down every copy of the CD he’d distributed, an impossible task given his DIY methods. After retaining a lawyer, Oswald negotiated a settlement that involved handing over all of remaining copies in his possession to the CRIA to be destroyed, and “other stipulations that were trying to protect people that already had copies of the record.” Ironically, Jackson had his own legal trouble two years later, after sampling the Cleveland Orchestra on Dangerous track “Will You Be There,” without proper credit or licensing. The suit was settled out of court for an unknown sum and the orchestra was credited in subsequent issues of the album. Needless to say, Jackson and his parent company Sony were not asked to destroy all remaining copies of the infringing record.

The stark difference between how the pop star’s case was dealt with, and the threats brought against Oswald, is indicative of an industry wide attitude that Toronto-based lawyer Reuven Ashtar points out is the reason why copyright laws are still trapped in the 1970s. In a widely-cited paper from 2009, explaining why both the Grand Upright and Bridgeport decisions are restrictive to sampling practice, Ashtar argues there’s a pervading trend of copyright owners pushing to settle cases out of court to avoid “the introduction of transformative findings.” Had Jackson and Sony not settled out of court with the Cleveland Orchestra, the judge’s likely decision in favour of the latter would have influenced future sampling-related cases as a new precedent, transforming the way copyright laws are enforced. Whereas settlements have no effect on the outcome of future cases or court decisions.

Major label artists who have benefitted from sampling in their own music have zero incentive to protect sampling practice and actually profit from its uneven enforcement, using it like an “anti-competitive ploy.”

Further, Ashtar notes that major label artists who have benefitted from sampling in their own music have zero incentive to protect sampling practice and actually profit from its uneven enforcement, using it like an “anti-competitive ploy.” In short, these bigger artists and labels are purposely skewing the law in their favour, hindering legislation’s growth and development toward fair use, and letting the two most anachronistic court rulings on sampling stand as absolute.

Outside the courtroom, major labels have less control. In an email exchange, Ashtar drew attention to a 2013 Oklahoma State University study that used Girl Talk’s album All Day as a data set to analyze the economic impact his recording had on the material he sampled. By looking at the economic performance of the 400 records the Pittsburgh DJ sampled before and after he sampled them, author W. Michael Schuster II was able to reason that the practice brought more attention to its source material. This undermined the age-old argument that sampling was economically detrimental, the pervading logic that informed the decision to have the records Oswald was distributing freely, destroyed.

One doesn’t have to look far to see the study’s conclusion in practice. The website WhoSampled indexes not only samples, but remixes and interpolations, while the community of volunteers behind Wikimedia also work to source samples in any given recording, as well as list any personnel who played on, produced or contributed to a work. These nuances of authorship are still a long way away from being reflected in copyright legislation. Ashtar is optimistic that the Kraftwerk and Madonna decisions are steps in the right direction and hopes they mean “a dawning of understanding that we need a more nuanced understanding that artistic and cultural outputs depend on history,” but points to the current “split” in the US courts on decisions like these as a roadblock. “So the Supreme Court will need to step in at some point to definitively settle things,” he says.

While the legal affair put an end to Oswald’s DIY self-distributing days, it didn’t spell the end for Plunderphonic or the technique at its centre. Though the masters were destroyed, the album became a treasured underground classic, as fans dubbed tapes and copied CDs of their own from the 700-some-odd copies that managed to escape the CRIA. In 2001, the album was re-released in a boxed set format with different album art by American label Seeland, which is run by Negativland, a band well-known for inviting the kind of legal troubles Oswald did his best to avoid.

Plexure cover artwork courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Not that the Canadian composer hasn’t tempted fate once or twice since. Four years after his run in with the CRIA, he was commissioned by American composer John Zorn to make another plunderphonic record, entitled Plexure. The source material is an astonishing 5,000 tape samples taken from familiar pop songs released in the “compact disk era,” which pass by in a matter of seconds, resulting in a sound that’s not unlike fiddling with a radio dial. The CRIA did not come knocking again.

Throughout the 90s he continued his work, commissioned by Elektra Records to plunder their back catalog for Rubiyt, and by the Grateful Dead for Grayfolded, where he “folded” 100 live performances of their song “Dark Star” into one gorgeous, 109-minute-long opus. More recently, in addition to his live improvised work on the saxophone, Oswald has composed works for the BBC, Kronos Quartet, and the Ensemble Modern of Frankfurt, all featuring his playful urge to turn the familiar into building blocks for something wholly new.

Plunderphonic was a bold statement, a line in the sand that was really a fissure, exposing just how vast the distance between our cultural appreciation for sampling and copyright laws really was. Through the record’s destruction was a kind of defeat, it has continued to live on, in part because people continue to practice what Oswald preached. By provoking major labels into action through sampling their works with credit, but not permission, Plunderphonic became a proof-of-concept and a metaphor for why sampling and quotation in art is so important: his music had to be stolen, copied and redistributed in order to survive.

Michael Rancic is on Twitter.

Watch Moby Lash Out At An Underground Rave's Sound Crew In 1992

Photo courtesy of the artist’s website.

In the early 90s, Moby was a fresh face in the dance music world making waves with his 1991 smash hit, “Go,” which peaked at number 10 on the UK Singles Chart. Although he was relatively new to working with synths and samplers, he had cut his teeth playing in rock bands on the East Coast, and it’s possible he may have had a hard time leaving his old aggressive stage presence behind behind the decks.

At least, that’s what we’re able to surmise from this archival clip that Magnetic Magazine dug up of the artist losing his temper at a San Francisco PlaySkool rave’s sound crew in 1992. In it, he has a hard time getting his levels adjusted the way he needs them, and grows a bit irritated, eventually losing his temper and thanking the sound company “for being ineffective.” Despite all the fuss, though, he ends up playing “Go” and it sounds as innervating as ever, even in this grainy quality.

If you want to know more about Moby’s raving golden days, he recently released a short documentary touring his old NYC spots to accompany his new neurotic and stubbornly optimistic memoir.

Follow Alexander on Twitter.

Calvin Harris Hurt By Taylor Swift's Decision To Reveal She Wrote Rihanna's Hit Single

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia commons.

Calvin Harris has taken to Twitter to respond to the recent revelation that Taylor Swift wrote “This Is What You Came For,” his recent single with Rihanna.

A representative for Swift told People magazine that she wrote the song under the pseudonym Nils Sjoberg. Harris and Swift broke up in June after 15 months dating.

In a string of tweets today, Harris said that he “wrote the music look bad at this stage.”

Justice Will Premiere A New Single Today, At Long Last

Release artwork courtesy of the artist

Influential French electro duo, Justice, has announced that they’ll make their long-awaited return later today, premiering their new single “Safe and Sound” on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 show at 2:30 PM EST.

The news confirms recent suspicions that the group had new material on the way, sparked last week by a Reddit user who used Shazam to identify a Justice track of the same name in a DJ set by Busy P, Boston Bun, and Para One. Those three artists are on the band’s label, Ed Banger.

If Justice is really back, then there’s an important question we have to answer: are we ready for a bloghouse revival?

Follow Alexander on Twitter.

Meet The Nigerian DJ Who Fought Hallucinations To Set A World Record With A Ten-Day Set

All photos courtesy of the artist.

Marathon DJ sets are nothing new in the world of dance music. Selectors like Markus Schulz, Ben Klock, Danny Tenaglia, and countless others have made names for themselves over the years by slamming down sets that extend well past the 10-hour mark. But what about the idea of playing a set that lasts ten whole days?

For DJs that get tossed boatloads of cash to play clubs and festivals, it’s probably not worth the time or struggle of attempting such an exhausting feat. Instead, the task of these extreme tests of endurance has gone to a collection of lesser-known jocks like Polish DJ Norbert Selmaj, AKA Norberto Loco, who in November of 2014 set the previous world record for longest DJ set from the Underground Temple Bar in Dublin, where he performed a 200-hour set. He has since played at the likes of Pacha Ibiza, and is marketed as the world record holder. Before him, Australia’s DJ Smokin’ Joe Mekhael stole the title from his own predecessor, Brazil’s DJ King, with a set of 168 hours. King had previously won the record with a set of 120 hours and 19 minutes.

But now, our planet has a new champion: Nigeria’s DJ Obi. In his hometown of Lagosfrom a room called Sao Caf Lagos the man born Obi Ajuonuma obliterated ole’ Norbert’s record by a whole forty hours, performing non-stop for ten straight days from June 22 to 11:30 PM on July 2. According to an interview with the BBC, Obi was allowed a series of small breaks (totaling no more than 2 hours each day), as well as daily medical checks, massages, and vitamins. He was also was prohibited from repeating a song within four hours of previously playing it, and someone had to be dancing at all times. The record has not yet been officially ratified by Guinness World Records, but all signs indicate that Obi stayed true to the official rules and was monitored throughout.

After being wowed by the news, THUMP called up Obi on the phone for the full scoop. We learned that he didn’t use the sync button the entire time, how he went to the bathroom throughout set, and why he nearly destroyed his body for the world title.

THUMP: Hey Obi. First off, congrats on your victory. How’s it going?
DJ Obi: Not bad, I finally got some sleep.

I can imagine that must have been nice. Did you take a very long nap after?
I did, I slept for at least 11 hours the day after.

What else have you been doing?
Just cooling it out, chilling, press here and there because we’re trying to catch onto the momentum of everything.

I’d love to hear about your background and what led you to this. Can you tell me how you got started as a DJ in Nigeria?
I actually started out in the States. I was in Boston, going to school at Worcester State. I was DJing to try to make some extra money, and also working in the mall. I had a flair for DJing in high school, after my friend taught me the basics. I thought about being a party promoter but there you have to put in too much money to go into it. I went to Guitar Center and bought my first set of decks; it was a Numark Mixtrack II. Then I started playing house parties and college parties, and later on started doing clubs. Eventually I graduated and moved back to Nigeria.

What places did you play?
All around the east coast: New York, DC, Virginia. I went as far as London a few times in college. I used my network of friends from high school and people I’d met to get gigs. Nigerians are everywhere. You just call a few people who ended up in the party scene and they’ll fly you out to book you for little college parties. I always came back to Nigeria every Christmas and booked club gigs out here though. When I moved back I decided to make it a full-time thing and stick to that.

What’s the scene for DJs and electronic music in Lagos?
We decided to do this to start getting respect for DJs in Nigeria. Some countries in Africa really respect the DJs, but in Nigeria they don’t consider DJs the life of the party in the same way. People didn’t believe I was going to actually make a career out of it until they saw me start to make it happen. Partying out here is cool, but people just have the stereotypes of those who party. But now it’s becoming more respectable.

What music do DJs usually play out in Nigeria?
There’s a hip-hop scene, and an afro-beat scene, then some house music. My entire set for the first 8 days was house music. It made more sense to stretch out the whole project. Afterwards I went more hip-hop, afro-beat, reggae, stuff like that.

Before you went for the record what was the longest set you’d done? Was there a way to train for this?
There’s no physical way of preparing for this, it’s a mental thing. The only way I could prepare was by downloading a lot of tracks. I downloaded a lot of folders and files of vocal house or deep house that would each have 200-500 tracks. There isn’t any physical way to prepare to stay awake for 10 days though. Your body goes as far as your mind can take it. After the third day it was difficult because I realized I still had a week to go. It was a mind fuck at that point. It was really difficult to come into myself in the morningthere were a lot of hallucinations going on but I was able to snap out of it. By the last day it was really terrible, which is why the medical staff had to step in. My body was just doing its own thing. I wouldn’t remember where I was, I wasn’t recognizing faces, I was very cranky.

What kind of things were you hallucinating?
I just thought I was somewhere else. There was only one floor where I was playing, but I kept thinking that I was upstairs and kept telling people to go downstairs. At one point I thought I was at my uncle’s house.

That’s wild.
My body just did it’s own thing for the first three hours every day until 9 or 10 and then I’d snap out of it. Part of the rules is that the music couldn’t stop for more than 10 seconds.

So Guinness had someone that was there who was watching you the entire time?
They couldn’t come to Nigeria so they just set up cameras. We each had timers that had to match so they’d know I was on time.

What was a typical day like for you. Like, what did you eat and drink?
I didn’t really have an appetite so I wasn’t eating full meals. I was eating more fruits and drinking juices, and I really could only completely eat oatmeal. I would just have a few bites and wouldn’t really have an appetite to eat anything else. We could do five minute breaks after every hour and could pile them up: 20 minutes after an 4 hours and an hour after 12 hours, so I only had two hours every day. I could shower, relax, whatever it was.

Then I started doing an hour break after 12 hours, but my blood pressure was up so they medical department thought I should do twenty minutes every four hours. I didn’t actually sleep because even if I had an hour I would have to brush my teeth, eat, or change my clothes and I only had a few minutes after that before I had to keep going. I would just chill for a bit before heading back to the DJ booth. What kept me going was the energy in the room. I didn’t expect the love and support that I got. As much as people DJ in Nigeria, I didn’t expect to get that much support. A lot of people came out, and dropped sticky notes by the DJ boothinspiring messages, bible passages. That kind of stuff kept me going. I made new friends from the experience; some people only went home in the morning to take a shower and came back to keep partying with me.

I must ask, how did you go to the bathroom?
That was the difficult part, I only went to the bathroom within the allocated break time. A lot of time I had to hold it. I had to dance through it. People thought I was dancing to the music but I was really just trying to not pee on myself. I had to really wait for that break time. Most of the time I was running to the bathroom.

You never thought about going in a bottle?
It did happen two or three times, I’m not gonna lie. After that I really just had to watch how I was drinking. I had to slow down on drinking water and juice so my bladder wasn’t going out of control.

Can you tell me some of your favorite moments of the set emotionally or musically?
A lot of house tracks had good energy. There’s a Black Coffee track called “Dance With Me,” that kept me going. Some of the Nigerian music legends came by too. There’s a reggae legend called Raskimono who came by, and some other very popular artists were there to support. That pushed me to keep going. Some schools came by on field trips to see me, and I didn’t expect that at all. My high school came by for an entire day with their senior students. Some kids made sure their parents brought them on the weekends.

Have you heard anything from the guy who had the previous record?
I haven’t heard anything, I was thinking that we should reach out to the guy.

You guys should DJ back-to-back for a month or something.
Yeah. I think he’s in Dublin, either way we’ll see if we can reach out to him.

I read that you were thinking a lot about your father during the set. What was his relationship to your DJing?
He passed in 2012 in a plane crash.

Sorry to hear that.
He was a media personality when he was alive in Lagos. He did support me in the beginning but he was also a very strong Christian and wanted me to stop at some point. The people that knew him knew he was a fan of hard work and pushing yourself to conquer your goals, so regardless if he wanted me to be a DJ he would have wanted me to keep pushing at something this big. That was really encouraging, working to accomplish a goal that I set.

So what’s next for you? You’ve got so much attention from this and you’re a hero in your town.
The only way to cash out from this is interviews, magazines, and trying to book different gigs around the world. Now it’s not just about the world record but also people actually seeing that I’m a good DJ and it wasn’t just me pressing play. I actually do know how to mix and blend and scratch. Showcasing the skill and the sound that I bring from Nigeria to the rest of the world. That’s the plan and that’s what’s next.

Why did you end with Drake’s “One Dance”?
I’m a friend with Wizkid who’s from Nigeria. It just made sense to do that as the final dance. There’s also an online betting site PaddyBett, and they started out with what my last song was gonna be and came up with the options, so when I saw that “One Dance” was on the list I knew it’d be my last one. It’s also the number one track in the world, and it has put Nigeria on the map. It had to do with everything I was trying to do with the Guinness World Record.

David Garber is on Twitter

Three Women Found Unconscious In DVBBS' Dressing Room After Hungarian Festival

This article was originally published on THUMP Canada.

Photo via DVBBS’ Twitter

Cleaning staff found six women, three of whom were unconscious, in Canadian electronic duo DVBBS‘ dressing room at Hungarian festival Balaton Sound on Saturday (July 9), local media reported.

According to BORS, the women were found by cleaners after the group and its entourage left the festival grounds. Ambulances were immediately called to treat the women who had allegedly been asked backstage by the DJs after watching their set. One doctor told Hungarian newspaper Blikk that all were taken to a hospital, though no medical attention was required, and that police questioning revealing they had little memory of what happened.

DVBBS have denied any link to the incident, providing the following statement to Billboard:

“We are shocked that some attendees of the Balaton Festival were victims of events which got them hospitalized. Police asked our cooperation for the investigation and of course we did what we could. Police confirmed there isn’t any link between us and what happened, that’s why we took off a couple of hours later to our next gig in Ibiza. There is another case going on independently from this in connection with marijuana and we gladly answer all questions regarding this and help the police to solve the case. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.”

Following the festival, DVBBS and two associates were arrested by police at the Liszt Ferenc International Airport on unrelated marijuana paraphernalia charges after failing a drug test. The three men have since been released on bail.

THUMP reached out to the duo and Balaton Sound organizers for comment and will update this post as the story develops.

Max Mertens is on Twitter.