[iDC] Remix Reader

Paul D. Miller anansi1 at earthlink.net
Mon Apr 17 14:13:31 EDT 2006

hello Everyone - I just want to start off with 2 
caveats in response to both Eduoard and Conrad.

1) Conrad - I completely relate to the earlier 
instances of "quotation" that you mention. One 
could argue that Emerson's essay "Of Quotation 
and Originality" is a good place to look at the 
instances you mention. The major difference 
between the historical regional styles you 
mention are twofold:

a) there was no technology in place to deal with 
the actual dissemenation of those "styles" - i.e. 
records and film made copies of the material in 
question widely available, whereas in other eras, 
styles spread alot more slowly (take a ship - 2 
months to the U.S. etc) via physical movement, 
"word of mouth" etc and

b) the impact of globalization and it's 
relationship to "Modernism" - there's a good 
analogy in the idea of the "Social Network" 
versus capital in Pine and Gilmore's "The 
Experience Economy" (Harvard University Press). 
Of course, the idea is that "post modern" late 
capital increases the complexity of negotiations 
between regions and "meta-narratives" - but 
that's kind of the point. I like to call this 
kind of stuff "transactional realism" - Manuel 
Delanda's "One Thousand Years of Non-Linear 
History" is a good place to check out how these 
kinds of ideas inform one another.

Marx & Engels infamous phrase "All that is solid 
melts..." kind of comes into play here. The 
networks unleashed by distributed media come home 
to roost! How do you dance with frequencies?

and the second riff from Eduardo:

Eduardo - don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the 
piece, I just had that one observation. For 
example, digging in the crates and going back to 
the turn of the 20th century, there was Bert 
Williams - an African American artist who 
performed in Black Face and made records of the 
performances. His story would be an interesting 
place to start when thinking about hip-hop. The 
reason I'm fascinated with Jamaica is precisely 
the paces that the post-colonial, hybrid, and 
totally ingenious uses of technology that places 
like Jamaica, India, Brazil, all put their 
culture industries through.

Could write more, but I'm in a studio session finishing some remixes!
Gotta run!

>Hello everyone,
>Hello Paul,
>Glad to read your comments.  A quick note: I am 
>currently developing a systematic and historical 
>definition of the Remix.  The intro I sent did 
>not mention the roots in Jamaica, you're 
>absolutely right, Paul.  However, I do go into 
>detail of the history you mention once in the 
>actual body of the text.  Also, I should explain 
>that I connect eventually connect the 
>development of the remix on to new media 
>practices, always keeping in mind the political 
>implications of such activity as, both, act of 
>resistance and celebration of consumer and 
>somewhere inbetween by some practitioners, who 
>take alternative approaches that don't quite fit 
>into premade avant-garde positions.  But more on 
>this in due time.  Not that I am not ready to 
>talk about it, but I just need to fully finish 
>the argument before I introduce it to people.  I 
>mainly wanted to send the blurb to let people 
>know where the politics behind the remix begin, 
>at least in the U.S.
>And thanks for the texts!  Thanks for sharing.
>On 4/16/06 12:20 PM, "Paul D. Miller" <anansi1 at earthlink.net> wrote:
>Hey people - it's a pleasure to see some of the threads on the list.
>The main issue is:
>1) You have to think about different kinds of 
>literacy. I think Lev Manovich would be totally 
>illiterate of youth culture's global fascination 
>with hybridity and convergent media - I'm saying 
>that as a friend. I did music for his "Soft 
>Cinema" project, and we've had discussions about 
>this. Alot of the digital theory scene simply 
>cannot process divergent forms of sound art, and 
>digital media. They can deal with Japan, China, 
>and India, but Jamaica, Africa and, ahem, 
>African-Americans, are a no-go zone for theories 
>of digital media and sound art. I've never been 
>quite sure why that is, but, yeah, it's there.
>The curators in the artworld have no idea about 
>how to deal with this, and the digital media 
>scene in terms of the real practice of 
>multi-culturalism, needs some serious work as 
>In Eduardo's piece, for example, starts with 
>RZA, but doesn't engage the real practical 
>relationships of the Caribbean (especially 
>producers in Jamaica) whose practice of 
>"versioning" directly anticipates hip-hop, or 
>for that matter the idea of call and response 
>blues from the turn of the last century. There 
>are so many other places to start - Bollywood's 
>ability to absorb the complex vocabulary of 
>Hollywood film, Egyptian cinema, West African 
>film makers like Sembene Ousmane... It's all 
>about collage based composition. I'd say Brian 
>Eno and David Byrne's "My Life in The Bush of 
>ghosts" is probably alot more creative than alot 
>of the hip-hop you hear today, and in fact, it's 
>been sampled alot, but then again, so has Fela. 
>RZA took that kind of hybridity, and made a 
>brand out of it... But then again, so did King 
>If you are open, there's plenty of interesting material out there.
>A very very very brief primer for those interested in "remix" culture:
>Valentine de St. Point "Manifesto of Lust" - 1915
>Luigi Russolo - The Art of Noise - 1915
>Theodore Adorno - The form of the Phonograph
>Norman Mailer's "The White Negro" - 1957
>Amiri Baraka - Blues People: Negro Music in White America, 1963
>Alfred Appel - Jazz Modernism  - 2003
>Eduoard Glissant - Poetics of Relation, 1997
>Jeff Chang's Can't Stop Won't Stop, 2005
>and of course, my book "Rhythm Science" that 
>came out on MIT Press a little while ago.
>Stevem Shaviro has an excellent on-line teaching 
>resource about sampling as well:
>These are the liner notes to a Box Set CD I've done with Trojan Records.
>Trojan Records is a legendary record label 
>started by Arthur "Duke" Reid in Kingston, 
>Jamaica in the late 1960's. It's archive 
>encompasses some of the most renowned Jamaican 
>artists in history, and the box set I've 
>compiled for Trojan Records is a slice of 
>material from their catalog. It's a double CD 
>with outtakes and extremely rare versions of 
>Jamaican material from the last 40 years.
>Paul aka Dj Spooky
>Heel up, Wheel up, come back, rewind: Trojan Records
>by Paul D. Miller
>When Trojan Records asked me to do a 
>"selections" from their archive, one of the 
>first things that went through my mind was how 
>do you mix music that changed the world? It's 
>been about fifty years since Jamaica has become 
>an independent country, and it seems like the 
>music that comes from this tiny island in the 
>Caribbean is having more of an impact than ever.
>Trojan Records' founder, Arthur "Duke" Reid, 
>used to drive the Trojan brand of trucks around 
>Kingston with huge speakers blasting his 
>innovative collection of Jamaican music, leading 
>to the urban legend of how the name of the 
>soundsystem cum record label developed. "Duke" 
>was a former policeman, and it comes as no 
>surprise that the "ruff and rude" sounds of the 
>Kingston underground were the staple of his 
>The metaphor of the Trojan truck, mapped onto 
>the Greek legend of the Trojan house, is as 
>fitting as any fiction. Trojan Ltd. was a car 
>company that made sturdy trucks that were to 
>become the staple of the colonial market export 
>of cars. The people of Troy, a great city in 
>ancient Greece, were a royal line founded by 
>Zeus and Electra, and if the myths of the past 
>are to be kept in mind when we think of Jamaica, 
>you can see the update: Like the Trojan horse, 
>these stealth units, soundsystems, were able to 
>be in plain sight while changing the cultural 
>operating system of the entire world. 
>Soundsystems were portable discos, mobile 
>platforms for different styles. They were the 
>preferred method of spreading a style because 
>they were nomadic in a way that the monumental 
>clubs of the U.S. and U.K. couldn't dream of. 
>From the vantage point of the 21st century, they 
>can only be viewed as the predecessor of the 
>Portability, quickness, stealth copies of hit 
>songs, "versions"Š All of this leads us to the 
>idea of remix culture and "mash-ups" that are 
>the digital world's inheritance from the analog 
>media of the soundsystem. With the material that 
>I selected for this compilation, I wanted to 
>avoid the obvious songs of Jamaican history, and 
>focus on the more esoteric materials that 
>collectors and producers could relate to. For 
>example, when the Prodigy sampled Max Romeo and 
>The Upsetters' 1976 "I Chase The Devil 
>(Lucifer)," I thought it would be a good start 
>to think about how the same sample popped up on 
>Kayne West's production of Jay Z's hit 
>"Lucifer." I think you'll relate to the out-take 
>version I included in the compilation of Lee 
>"Scratch" Perry's version, "Disco Devil." Sounds 
>like piracy? Well can you imagine the world 
>without Bob Marley? He used to screen records as 
>a clerk for the Coxsone soundsystem. He'd 
>literally sift through the sounds of the current 
>day to tell Coxsone which records to copy! This 
>was invaluable for his development as a 
>recording artist and performer.
>The "re-mix" was happening in Jamaica to keep 
>the best songs fresh with the newest sounds for 
>decades before the idea hit the U.S. With Perry 
>and his staple of singers like Susan Cadogan (a 
>former librarian!), you can hear the heat of a 
>Kingston night in songs like her hit, "Fever," 
>and her 1974 smash single "Hurt So Good," a 
>cover version of Millie Jackson's song by the 
>same name. Since copyright law in Jamaica was 
>never tight everything was a copy of something 
>else. You can think of the whole culture as a 
>shareware update, a software source for the rest 
>of the world to upload. And if you stretch your 
>ears, you can see the future of digital music in 
>the drum machine riddim of "Sleng Teng" - a 
>rhythm made at King Jammy's on a Casio MT-40 
>home keyboard.
>Jamaica created its own economy in sound with 
>the relentless bass pressure of an island where 
>music, and access to the right styles and sounds 
>could make or break your career. The pressure to 
>find the right rhythms created a hothouse of 
>innovation. Just think: reggae is the expression 
>of a nation under immense pressure - from IMF 
>loans, from colonialism's aftereffects, the 
>falling price of bauxite and its relationship to 
>a Third World economy based solely on natural 
>products like sugar cane and bananas.
>Before hip-hop was global, the Jamaican scene 
>had somehow, on the down-low, followed the idea 
>of diaspora. Today with artists like Matisyahu 
>in Brooklyn doing Hasidic Jewish versions of 
>reggae, to stuff like Japan's "Ranking Taxi" to 
>the myriad sounds coming out of Brazil, India, 
>Tunisia, Germany and France, the tradition of 
>pastiche and bricolage continues. You get the 
>idea. The logic of diaspora - of taking music 
>from a region and spreading it across the world 
>- is reggae's core essence, and when I put this 
>mix together, I wanted to go from my downtown 
>NYC to London and Kingston, to parts of the 
>world I'd forgotten and the most distant places 
>of my record collection.
>I used to go to Jamaica every summer when I was 
>a kid, and some of my earliest memories - 
>visiting relatives and friends, cousins and 
>uncles and aunts - was of my mother and sister 
>reminding me of the links between the island and 
>America. My Mom used to even used to write for 
>Jamaica's equivalent of the New York Times, 
>Kingston's "Daily Gleaner!" I want you to feel 
>history when you listen to this mix and think 
>about how sampling, making new music from old, 
>came from the idea of versioning. Think about 
>the soundsystem battles of Duke Reid, Sir 
>Coxsone and Prince Buster as a forerunner to MC 
>and DJ battles in hip-hop. Tthink about Kool 
>Herc's soundsystem as a stepping stone for 
>"Planet Rock." Just think about how strange the 
>world would be if we didn't have this music of 
>the islands. It just makes you remember that 
>this whole planet is just an island too.
>This mix is a combination of the old, the new, 
>and the in between. That's kind of the point: DJ 
>culture in the 21st century is as much about the 
>soundsystem as the playlist. The iPod revolution 
>has brought us back to the era of the "single" 
>in the form of a downloadable media file. It's a 
>return to the era when we were kids in the 
>ancient late 1980's, when vinyl still ruled the 
>dancehalls, and the soundsystems of NYC, 
>Kingston, and London were all about underground 
>flava. At a certain point in time, and at a 
>certain place - a phrase: architecture is 
>nothing but frozen music. What happens when we 
>reverse engineer the process? Form becomes flux, 
>solids melt into ideas, concepts, blueprints, 
>codes and contexts. I wanted to make a mix that 
>reflected that: old and new. If there's one 
>thing that reggae has told us, it's all about 
>that pressure drop!
>Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid NYC 2006
>CD 1
>1. Disco Devil by Lee "Scratch" Perry
>2. Lama Lava by Augustus Pablo
>3. 007 Shanty Town  by Desmond Dekker
>4. Funky, Funky Reggae by Dave & Ansel Collins
>5. Shades Of Hudson by Dennis Alcapone & Kieth Hudson
>6. Come Together by The Israelites
>7. Old Fashion Way by Ken Booth and Kieth Hudson
>8. Rain by Bruce Ruffin
>9. Your Ace From Outer Space by U-Roy
>10. Sweet Like Candy by Winston Williams
>11. The Rooster by Tommy McCook & His Band
>12. The Trial Of Pama Dice by Lloyd/Dice/Mum
>13. Fever       by Susan Cadogan
>14. Skinhead Moonstomp by Symarip
>15. Morning Sun by Al Barry & The Cimarons
>16. Save Me by Bob Andy & Marcia Griffiths
>17. Rudy A Message To You by Dandy Livingstone
>18. James Bond by The Selecter
>19. Rough Rider (Live) by The Special Beat
>20. Ghost Town (Live) by The Specials
>21. Mirror In The Bathroom (Live) by The Special Beat
>22. The Russians Are Coming (Take Five) by Val Bennett
>CD 2:
>1. Entertainer by Charlie Chaplin taken from Dancehall Explosion-20 Killa D
>2.The Great Musical Battle by Derrick Morgan
>3. Reform Institute by Gregory Isaac's All Stars
>4. Popcorn by The Upsetters
>5. Brother Noah by The Shadows
>6. King Tubby's Explosion Dub by King Tubby
>7. Dynamic Fashion Way by U-Roy
>8. A Yah We Deh by Barrington Levy
>9. Peter Tosh "Here Comes the Judge" - taken from "Trojan Legend Box Set"
>10. Dave Barker "Lock Jaw"
>11. Dillinger - "Flat Foot Hustling" - taken from "Trojan Legend Box Set
>12.  Lee "Scratch" Perry - the Upsetters - "Chapter 2: French Connection"
>13. Hot Sauce (Aka The Agro Man Is Back) by Dave & Ansel Collins
>  14. A Version I can Feel With Love by Tommy McCook
>15. Brain Mark by Jackie Mitoo
>16. Pop A Version by Dennis Alcapone
>17. Ethiopian Kingdom by Prince Rowland Downer and Count Ossie Band
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