Remixer #51 Addictive TV: “Images have their own sense of rhythm”

The “Remixer” series features interviews with people involved in remix practices and culture, asking them about their experiences and approaches towards remix. This time: Addictive TV.

logo-addictive-tvGraham and Mark are the remix and mash-up artists behind Addictive TV. They are sampling all kinds of video and audio footage into new works.

Could you introduce yourself and give some background on your artistic work?

Graham: We’re Addictive TV, there’s two of us, I’m Graham and he’s Mark! We’re audio/video remixers and mash-up artists and we create music by sampling sounds you can see. We’ve been doing this a long time and were part of the early pioneering days of this scene 15 to 20 years ago. We sample movies, TV, concert footage, music videos, even football and create new tracks or mash-ups from those samples, keeping the audio and video together. A good example is our track Beam Up The Bass, remixing classic Star Trek – all those fantastic 1960’s electronic sounds of phasers, communicators, people beaming up, even the Enterprise sliding doors, we created a track using all those sounds, but kept the pictures in sync – so when you hear the music, you can also see the sounds.

Mark: Yeah, in that same style of ours we’ve actually created a lot of alternative trailers over the years for Hollywood studios like Paramount and 20th Century Fox for films such as Fast & Furious and Slumdog Millionaire, and back in the day we were involved in the development of DVD turntables with Pioneer. In fact, my own background is as a mash-up DJ and producer since the early 2000’s, my other name is Go Home Productions and I’ve produced remixes for artists such as David Bowie, Alicia Keys, Gang Of Four and Kasabian and I actually made the first officially cleared mash-up album “Mashed” for EMI Records about 10 years ago, so remixing is in my blood!

From your point of view, what makes a great remix?

Mark: Recontextualising things in an exciting and imaginative way. For me, great remixes retain a flavour of the original but have a whole load more added by the remixer, to the point where maybe the new version is almost completely different and takes on a new life of its own.

Graham: I think similar, bringing something new and different from the original I’d say, but in the case of a movie remix, then that’s down to the AV sampling and choosing the rights bits to create the track from. Images have their own sense of rhythm in just the same way sounds do.

How do you use or re-use works of others in your own works?

Graham: If it’s a more traditional mash-up, then it’s sampling all the different elements of both audio and video that work together to create something new. And in the case of movies or TV, it’s simply sampling the sounds and their connected images and then specifically looking for rhythms in the audio samples and building a track from them, while also doing the video edit at the same time.

Mark: Yeah, because our work is audiovisual, when sampling existing works we have to spend lots of extra time looking for rhythm and melody visually to create the visual rhythms. The Star Trek remix Graham mentioned earlier is a good example, we plundered from the most popular episodes, finding all those iconic sights and sounds and some classic quotes, then set about creating intros, cool hooks, choruses, middle eights and breakdowns from them all before stitching it all together.

Have you ever abstained from using a work because of legal issues and why?

Mark: No not really, I think we’re happy enough following the train of thought that everything and anything is ripe for sampling and remixing. I don’t think we’ve ever abstained from remixing work for legal reasons, more that we’ve abstained for creative reasons. For example, our club set is predominantly geared towards translating on a popular level internationally, so our work needs to be understood and recognised, in other words something like Star Trek works well, compared to attempting a Captain Beefheart remix if you know what I mean…

Graham: Well, once we did remix all the James Bond movies together in an epic mash at a live charity event for the National Theatre in London which was giving away a prize of meeting Daniel Craig and a tour of Pinewood studios, and the producers of the Bond films who were in the audience weren’t very happy at all and jumped up on stage to tell us so!

Have you ever had legal problems related to your artistic works?

Graham: No, I’m mean a couple of times we’ve been asked to take down videos from youtube, but in general the response has always been positive from copyright holders whose work we’ve remixed, which has often led to official remix work. Mark’s had a few take down notices under his Go Home Productions name though…

Mark: Yeah, as GHP I’ve had a few friendly emails from various artist representatives. One such instance was from Paul McCartney’s management kindly asking me to remove any mp3 references to my Wings vs Eminem bootleg, however all the GHP ‘Beatles’ mash-up material that was also available at the time, was OK with them. And once Johnny Marr’s people asked me to remove my video for “How Soon Is Independence?” (Destiny’s Child vs The Smiths) but they did mention that Johnny himself personally loved it. Though most of the reaction from artists I’ve mashed or remixed over the years, as Graham says, has been positive. Some of the work I mentioned earlier, Bowie, Dylan, The Doors, Blondie, Kasabian and Gang of Four all commissioned me on the back of illegal bootlegs.

How do you like the idea of introducing a „right to remix“, including compensation for the original artist?

Mark: ‘Right To Remix’ is an interesting and positive approach for sure. I think great remixes and the remixers themselves need that freedom and acknowledgement of creativity, rather than being stifled by legislation.

Graham: Yes, the idea of being allowed to sample and remix work is really needed in today’s media landscape, and figuring out a royalty structure for the original artist is the only way forward. This already happens to a degree within music, although permission still has to be sought, but it also needs to happen in the world of video and films. Especially with the likes of video sharing sites like youtube becoming so big these days, things will have to change. Sadly, when there’s money to be made, this is usually only what makes large companies change their attitudes. In fact I recently saw Google are putting aside money to help artists challenge and fight copyright issues in some cases on Youtube.

Finally, what is your personal favorite remix?

Mark: That’s a tough one! I’m always changing my mind when it comes to compiling favourite tracks from any genre as it always depends what kind of mood I’m in. At this moment in time I’ll go for Andrew Weatherall’s remix of Primal Scream’s “I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have” from 1990! The remix was so good that Creation Records quickly pressed up white labels and sent them out to the major club DJs and it became an instant dancefloor smash! And soon enough, it was released officially as “Loaded” and became Primal Scream’s first hit. Unbelievably it was Weatherall’s first time in a recording studio creating the track! He used spoken Peter Fonda samples from the 1966 Biker film ‘The Wild Angels’ (another personal favourite) and completely turned the Primal Scream track on its head, using hardly anything from the original song and adding loads of his own input alongside a cheeky Soul II Soul break! I think this remix single-handedly invented indie-dance.

Graham: And if you mean one of ours, I have to choose Stevie Wonder vs Red Hot Chili Peppers – who would have thought they would blend together so well! The video isn’t online, only the audio…

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