Recycled 80s Live (2008)

  • Instrumentation: sop, pno, keys, drums (all amplified)
  • Duration: 90’00
  • Made possible through the financial support of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Banff Centre

Program Notes

Recy­cled 80s Live is a col­lage of small frag­ments of ‘80s pop songs, recom­posed and recon­tex­tu­al­ized into a new, larger work. I chose this approach because artists have always bor­rowed mate­r­ial from one another, but copy­right is increas­ingly being abused to pre­vent bor­row­ing. This sit­u­a­tion is a threat to cul­ture and cre­ativ­ity in gen­eral and it deserves to receive atten­tion.

Copy­right has always had two roles, to pro­tect the rights of the cre­ator, but more broadly, to encour­age cre­ativ­ity. With­out copy­right, artists would never be prop­erly rewarded for their work and art would not get made. But with­out fair deal­ing pro­vi­sions (or fair use in the U.S.), copy­right law stran­gles cre­ativ­ity by making art­works inaccessible.

Over the past 100 years, cor­po­rate inter­ests have increas­ingly tried to restrict or remove fair deal­ing from copy­right. Copy­right in 1900 was only 14 years long and had to be offi­cially requested. This meant that artists at the time could draw on a huge store of rel­a­tively fresh mate­r­ial in their work, lead­ing to the explo­sion of cre­ativ­ity that marked the birth of Hol­ly­wood, the avant-garde, jazz, and more. Now copy­right is auto­matic, can last over 150 years, and legit­i­mate works that use fair deal­ing are fre­quently attacked in court by cor­po­rate inter­ests. This trend has only accel­er­ated with the rise of dig­i­tal music tech­nol­ogy and file sharing.

For this reason, Recy­cled 80s Live draws entirely from mate­r­ial still under copy­right, with­out per­mis­sion. This can be done under fair deal­ing as long as the new work cre­ates new artis­tic value and does not take away from the market for the orig­i­nals. I designed Recy­cled 80s Live to respect these bound­aries, work­ing within the tra­di­tion of mash-up artists such as John Oswald or Girl Talk, but with live musi­cians. My mes­sage, to adapt an old adage, is that your right to swing your copy­right ends where my music begins.