“Copy, transform, combine” (A Look At Remix Culture)

18 11 2012

Firstly I would like to start by saying that in preparation for this post I was asked to watch a series of short films entitled ‘Everything is a Remix’ by Kirby Ferguson, which you can view here. I found these films to be incredibly interesting and more than a little inspirational, and I definitely recommend you watch them if remix culture is a topic that interests you.

For me, remix culture is something that has always sparked an interest. Perhaps this interest comes from my previous studies on the subject in college and university, or maybe it’s because I spend a large amount of my time on sites such as Reddit and YouTube (well known for the spreading of edited/remixed material). Most likely though, it’s because as a producer on a mission I understand the importance of remix culture within the realm of audio. I myself have created remixes, the most recent being a remix of “Trouble” by Leona Lewis, for a Talenthouse contest (linked below for those that would like to listen).

Leona Lewis – Trouble (apertje remix)

I know other producers that have used remixes to great success, one example of this is my friend Eshi (check out his work here) who’s remix of “Crew Love” by Drake, currently has over 20,000 plays on YouTube. I know this might not sound like a huge amount, but considering he is relatively new and that his original material has less than a 1000 plays per video, I would say that this is a pretty good example of how remixes can be used to benefit smaller artists. Even big named artists such as Tiësto have used remixes as a way to gain critical acclaim, most notably his remix of “Silence” by Delerium, which helped expose him to a much more mainstream audience

In the videos mentioned previously, one of the more negative views is the supposed “ripping off” of others material by Led Zeppelin (perhaps an argument of parody vs pastiche?). I personally see their borrowing of riffs/short vocal lines to be more of an homage to their influences, rather than an intentional act of stealing. The reworking of others music and lyrics has been around for a long time and there are many famous examples of artists reworking songs in order to make them more commercially viable, such as the white musicians (e.g Pat Boone) that released sanitized versions of black musicians music during the 1950’s. In these cases though, the original artists were payed royalties, something Led Zeppelin probably should have done, seeing as the changes made to the original content were very minimal. I know if I was making money off a remix that I had made I would want to pay royalties to the original artist, not just to cover my backside, but also because I see it as a sign of respect.

Ok, so I suppose that when it comes to the remixing of audio I am pretty biased, however the videos don’t just cover audio. They also look at remix culture on a much larger scale, talking about film and technology, and even going as far as using evolution as an example of remixing. There are several quotes throughout the videos that really made me stop and think, one in particular (also mentioned in the title of this post, remix anyone?) is the repeated use of “Copy, transform, combine”, a statement that seems to sum up the very nature of existence. It can literally apply to anything, and fits in very nicely with the idea that “creation requires influence”. The video shows examples of how directors, such as George Lucas and Quentin Tarantino, have taken their influences and used them to create scenes for their own films. Again, I wouldn’t call this stealing, in my opinion this is a way of paying respect to those that came before them. In this sense I also find it hard to see remixing as a bad thing.

Overall, remix culture plays a huge part in our society and always has done. Personally I don’t see anything wrong with it, as long as people are getting credit where credit is due. This does not mean that I agree with the blatant stealing of other peoples work, however I do feel that with the amount of influence we take from others, some degree of copying is inevitable.




One response

29 03 2013
Remix- Hyperlink Essay | Remixing the Mixture

[…] Overall, remix culture plays a huge part in our society and always has done. Personally I don’t se… […]

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