Monday, January 29, 2007

Episode 158, Some Assembly Required

Episode 158, Some Assembly Required

01 Steinski and Mass Media – “We'll be right back”
02 The Beat Junkies – “Scratch Monopoly II”
03 Antediluvian Rocking Horse – “Orange”
04 DJ BC – “Dutch Holiday”
05 X-ecutioners – “3 Boroughs”
06 People Like Us – “Arkinsaw Explorer”
07 Janek Schaefer – “Weather Report (segment)”
08 Go Home Productions – “Don't Hold Back, Sweet Jane”
09 DJ Shadow – “Walkie Talkie”
10 Wayne Butane – “Backwash (segment)”
11 The Who Boys – “A Song Called Bob”
12 The Tape-beatles – “Our invisible supply”
13 Jeffrey Sconce – “Heaven's gate”
14 Steev Hise – “Frustr8ed”
15 Team 9 – “No name army”

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Janek Schaefer

Janek Schaefer

Janek Schaefer is a sound artist and turntablist from London, England. His first album was a wonderfully conceptual record featuring audio recorded by a dictaphone wrapped in a box and then sent through the mail (Recorded Delivery, 1995). I forget the details of how it worked exactly, but it was basically set to record using some kind of a guage to tell when there actually WAS anything to record (so that it wouldn't run out of room by recording the long periods of time where there was no noise being made at all). What's audible is everything you might hear if you were to somehow be a "fly on the wall" of the inside of a package being sent through the mail. Listening to that composition, one hears everything from the staff at the counter, to the various machines, trucks and people who handle the mail as it's delivered from sender to receiver.

Jump forward to 2002, when I met Janek Schaefer here in Minneapolis. He was in town as a McKnight Composer in Residence on behalf of the American Composers Forum, working on the project he'd proposed, intending to somehow do something with Minnesota weather as inspiration. The conceptual framework upon which he ultimately hung his composition (Weather Report, 2003) was reminiscent of that postal piece he'd done eight years earlier. Getting hold of a giant weather balloon, he tied one of his cellular phones to it and then just let it go. He'd dialed his own voice mail box before sending the phone towards heaven, and using the resulting voicemail recording as the intro, produced a spectacularly evolving piece about the weather, using sounds (recorded in Minnesota) of everything from actual weather conditions to local radio djs and meterologists giving their daily forecasts.

I've had a chance to witness the creation of a small handful of the many sound collages which have aired here on the show, but I think the most personal experience, to date, was listening to an early version of Weather Report on Janek's laptop, one evening at the house where he was staying here in Minneapolis, before doing an interview for the show. There was a little party the following summer, so that first meeting must have been in the middle of a Minnesota winter - a particularly mild one, if memory serves. I remember it threatened to be an issue, as the piece was supposed to be, at least in part, about a traditional Minnesota winter!

Of course, along the way he's done a lot more than just those two albums. He's collaborated with other artists (including Philip Jeck, another notable turntablist) and released multiple albums of sound art. He's created site-specific sound installations and soundtracks for exhibitions, and has performed around the world. In concert, he's known for working almost exclusively with vinyl recordings and is perhaps best known for the three-armed turntable he designed and built himself...

1. 'Nipper' the His Master's Voice['s] dog [optional of course]
2. Tone-arm 1
3. Forward and Reverse play platter

4. Raised Tone-arm 3
5. On/Off switch
6. Forward/Reverse toggle switch
7. Ultra micro/vari-speed dial

8. Master fader knobs

9. On board mixer for each tone-arm volume output.

10. Tone-arm 2

(Self contained flight case)

The Tri-phonic Turntable can play three records at once, at any speed, and won Schaefer an official Guinness World Record for "Most Versatile Record Player." In 2004, he won another Guinness World Record for breaking the most number of vinyl records, on his 33 and 1/3rd birthday! To further accentuate the point, the records were all of World Music, and apparently he only had to break 17 of them in 30 seconds to achieve the title. Afterwards, he collected the broken shards, with the intention of melting them down to be reused for a very limited edition pressing of a recording made of the sound of the original records being smashed. Yet another wonderfully conceptual sound art record from Janek Schaefer.

Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Janek Schaefer...

*Name: Janek Schaefer

*Another genre descriptor: Architect of foundsoundscapes

*Why you use this descriptor: I studied architecture, and I like to use and manipulate found sounds. I often make soundscape type constructions from the results... The name was given to me by a guy in Newcastle, England.

*Location: England

*Original Location: My blood comes from Poland and Canada

*What is your creative/artistic background: Architect, photographer, graphic designer turned sound artist and musician/composer.

*History: 10 years (1995)

*Born: 1970, middle England

*Philosophy: Entertain the brain and the heart

*How would you like to be remembered: Happy

*Web address:

Monday, January 22, 2007

Episode 157, Some Assembly Required

Episode 157, Some Assembly Required

01 Alien Army – “D
02 Negativland – “I Am God”
03 The Freelance Hellraiser – “Rollout The Money”
04 Ros Bobos - “I Understand, Peter”
05 Brian Eno & David Byrne - “Mea Culpa”
06 DJ Earlybird – “Warm and tender time after noone”
07 B'O'K – “Too Much Anthrax”
08 B'O'K – “I'm Extremely Afraid”
09 Aggro1 – “Korn vs. Kansas”
10 Dad's New Slacks – “144 arguments for the elimination of television”
11 Emergency Broadcast Network - "You Have 5 Seconds To Complete This Section”
12 General Patton vs. The X-Ecutioners – “Roc Raida: Riot Control Agent/Combat Stress Control”
13 Cassetteboy – “If That's Yer Attitude”
14 Big City Orchestra – “untitled”
15 Forty One – “A Short Story”
16 Divide & Kreate – “Always with you”

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The Freelance Hellraiser

The Freelance Hellraiser

The Freelance Hellraiser is London's Roy Kerr. I was quite pleased to feature a phone interview with The Freelance Hellraiser on Some Assembly Required in November of 2006 (episode 147). Read on for the Q&A he submitted around that same time.

Best known for his mashup, "A Stroke of Genius" (I've also seen it spelled "Genie-us," a reference, of course, to the fact that he'd mashed "Genie in a Bottle" by Christina Aguilera with The Stroke's "Hard to Explain"), The Freelance Hellraiser has created dozens of mashups and starred as the house DJ for Paul McCartney in 2004, and 2005, re-mixing exclusive McCartney/Wings material before his shows. Since making a name for himself as an influential mashup artist, he's gone on to form a live band, under the same name, and has (at this writing) released one album of pop music, called "Waiting For Clearance."

It's interesting to note that many of the mashups attributed to The Freelance Hellraiser are not in fact his. He's actually taken to introducing himself this way in interviews. One popular mashup which many people think is by The Freelance Hellraiser, is really by 2 Many DJ's. Their mashup, "Smells like Booty" (mashing Nirvana's "Smells like teen spirit" with "Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child), was miscredited on an early, widely circulated mashups compilation called "The Best Bootlegs in the World Ever." For every great mashup incorrectly attributed to him though, I'm sure there are dozens of truly terrible ones as well, so in addition to wanting to give credit where credit is due, I can see why he'd be wanting to get the word out...

Whether you know him as a mashup artist, Club DJ or pop music producer, here's the SAR Q&A with The Freelance Hellraiser...

*Name: The Freelance Hellraiser

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: No

*Members: When I play with my live band, 4 of us.

*Founding Member: Me

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: None of the above.

*Another genre descriptor: I don't call myself anything, even when I was doing bootlegs/mash-ups/whatever. I referred to myself as a DJ, musician and producer. I still am.

*Location: London

*Original Location: Essex

*What is your creative/artistic background: I don't have one.

*History: About 3 years. (From Wikipedia: He gained fame with a mash-up called "A Stroke of Genius" ...Although originally greeted by a cease and desist order by RCA, the combination was subsequently a top ten UK hit for Scottish band Speedway, and The Freelance Hellraiser went on to remix Aguilera's single "Fighter," as well as tracks for Placebo and ex-The Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft. In 2004 he was commissioned by Paul McCartney to remix some lesser-known McCartney tracks as preshow entertainment for his tour of that year. Those tracks, and several more, have now been released as Twin Freaks.)

*Born: (circa 1974)

*Motivations: I can't think of anything else I'd rather do more.

*Philosophy: There isn't one.

*How would you like to be remembered: As the creator of the world's greatest ever mash-up.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Some Assembly Required: Mashups Special MIX

Some Assembly Required: Mashups Special MIX

This special mix is a brief detour as we look forward to podcasting BRAND NEW EPISODES of Some Assembly Required. Check back weekly as Some Assembly Required heads into its fourth year in syndication. Starting next week, the episodes you hear on college, community and public radio stations across the US and Canada will also be available to download here at the Some Assembly Required Blog.

For now, please enjoy this select mix of mashups pulled from the next several week's worth of episodes. Tune in every week as we continue to explore all forms of sample based music and audio art. From Mashups to tape cut ups and turntablism from a wide variety of different perspectives.

Mashup artists featured in this week's special mix:
DJ BC, Divide & Kreate, DJ Earlybird, Go Home Productions, DJ Jay-R, King Of Pants, Lenlow, Bobby Martini, Party Ben, Team 9 and The Who Boys.

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Lenlow is Luke Enlow, a mashup luminary (according to the Toronto Star!) from New Hampshire. The first time I heard Lenlow was one of the first times I'd heard a mashup which stretched beyond the traditional A+B bastard pop track. Now, I'm not saying he was the first to do that, just that his was one of the first I heard, and enjoyed. It was a track featuring at least three references, among which I was able to pick out "Last Nite," by The Strokes, "Last Nite" by Kid N Play and "Last Night" by The Travelling Wilburys. I think that mashup made my "top 7" one year at Radio K, in fact.

is also one of the founders of a mashup night called "Mash Ave" which takes place in Boston, Massachusets. He's currently a resident DJ at the Independent in Somerville, where he plays his own mash ups along with favorites by other bastard pop producers. To learn even more, check out Lenlow's myspace page and his website.

Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Lenlow...

*Name: Lenlow

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: No.

*Do you use a pseudonym? Just Lenlow.

*Members: Just me.

*Founding Member: Luke Enlow

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: I would classify myself as a mashup producer.

*Location: Massachusetts, but now I live in New Hampshire.

*Original Location: Massachusetts.

*What is your creative/artistic background: I don't have much musical history personally, except that my family's quite musical. I just started messing around with music on my computer in early 2004. I never played any instruments, but music has always been important to me -- I've always loved listening to music, and have appreciated almost every genre. I think having a wide variety of musical influences has helped me in my mashup-making. My infatuation for all the sampling of hip hop probably played the largest role in what I do now -- I loved hearing creative reappropriation of classic tunes like that. I started a regular mashup night in Boston with DJ BC back in 2004, and we've been going strong since. Our aim is mostly to spread the mashup love... get people hearing great mashups and hopefully turn people onto the genre. I'm also working with my sister Katie Enlow on a project that should be released in 2007 some time. They're basically mashups, but she is providing the vocals.

*History: Since Feb 2004.

*Born: I was born in 1976, in Illinois.

*Motivations: It's loads of fun to turn existing songs into new ones, and hear them in a brand new way. And it's even more fun when they sound better than the original tunes I've used.

*Philosophy: Uh, I don't really have one, that I know of.

*How would you like to be remembered: As a quality mashup producer, I suppose.

*Web address:

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Episode 128, Some Assembly Required

Episode 128, Some Assembly Required

01 Manifest With Mr Thing – “Unorthodox Turntabular Angles”
02 Szeki Kurva – “The stars are shining”
03 Realistic – “Smells Like Teen Disco”
04 Christian Marclay - “Maria Callas”
05 The Tape-beatles – “The American Adventure”
06 The Wholesome Family Singers – “I Think It's Wednesday”
07 Sucking Chest Wound – “Bring'em To Their Knees”
08 Lecture on Nothing – “Chicken sludge”
09 Tom Recchion – “The Final Fattening”
10 Wolfram – “IHIHI”
11 Twink – “Hip Hopera”
12 Cheekyboys – “Smack my bitch up when doves cry”
13 Think Tank - “Kobiyashi Moru”
14 Woulds – “Oh, the humanity”
15 Party Ben – “Somebody Rock Me”

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The Tape-beatles

The Tape-beatles

I've been waiting for the perfect opportunity to post about The Tape-beatles. The obvious choice would have been to wait until we run the episode featuring my phone interview with Lloyd Dunn and John Heck (the two remaining members of the group, pictured), but since we've discontinued our use of the podcast as an archive for older episodes, it's anyone's guess as to when we'd get around to it, as I'll only go back to archiving episodes here once I've stopped producing new ones. I hope that will be a long time from now, so I've decided to go ahead with it now. The first new artist feature of 2007...

The Tape-beatles have had a major influence on this show, actually. I'm sure I've given the long version of how the show got started here before... I put out my own sound collage record in late 1998 and had spent some time, the year or two before the release, doing some research online and finding that I wasn't alone in the world of sound collage. Actually, I'd been aware of sample based music since junior highschool, but was only just learning about artists who took it in more interesting directions. Once online, I was excited to find that the community of sound collagists went much further than I'd previously realized, and one of the groups which made the biggest impression was The Tape-beatles. I loved their concept of being a sort of Musique concrète pop group, or as an article at their website puts it, "Spreadsheet statistics reveal that the Tape-beatles are the locus where the Avant-garde and popular culture meet."

That concept really struck a chord with me. They were taking themselves very seriously, while at the same time having as much fun as possible with the idea. This struck me as beautifully Middle Path, which was a relatively new concept to me, at the time, and it's certainly an approach I've adopted for the show. I do take it very seriously, but I'm trying my hardest to have a little fun with it as well. Eventually, once I'd learned even more about artists working with sound collage, I had developed a library which could just barely support a weekly show, and over the years have continued to grow that library to the point where I'm now quite proud of the diversity of the program.

So, back to The Tape-beatles. The group came together in 1987, in Iowa City. Former members include Linda Morgan Brown, Chuck Hollister, Ralph Johnson and Paul Neff. The current members are two of the founding members, Lloyd Dunn and John Heck. The name seems to have originated from the traditional drinking game of "who can come up with the most ridiculous indie rock band name?" The Tape-beatles was the best they could do? Well, it does relate both to their medium and their concept.

The first CD came out in 1990. It was called Music With Sound and it's the first record I purchased from the group, online. It might have been the first record I ever found and bought online, in fact. From there, I went looking for new stuff at a record store in Minneapolis and was introduced to Public Works - a sort of spin-off band. Actually, the record cover says Public Works is a division of the Tape-beatles project - or something like that (I'm not at home, so I can't check for sure). Their album, "Matter" was exactly what I was looking for. From there, I went and bought all of their albums. You can find their full discography HERE. You can also read the SAR Q&A with Ralph Johnson of Public Works HERE.

As good as their albums are, you really have to see the films which accompany many of them, if you want to fully understand how beautiful this work is. Three of their CD releases have accompanying "expanded cinema" performances. If you ever get the chance to see them perform "The Grand Delusion," "Matter" or "Good Times," definitely go. It might be a bit of a challenge if you live in the US, as although it seems like they've been presenting a lot more lately, they currently live in Prague and have been doing most of their shows in Europe. I saw "A Grand Delusion" in Chicago, several years ago (I drove down specifically to see the show!) and in 2001, I was very pleased to work with Sound Unseen here in Minneapolis, to bring them both over from Prague to present the world premiere of the expanded cinema performance for Good Times. Actually, if you can't see it live, you can purchase some of their film work on VHS HERE.

The Tape-beatles
pooled their resources early on, and purchased the word Plagiarism® (I wonder who actually gets paid for these word purchases? The US government? An interesting racket). Of course, their purchase of that particular word is a comment on the whole culture of ownership, specifically in regards to intellectual property, which is something one must deal with on some level, if one is to be a creator of this particular kind of sound collage. It's worth pointing out that The Tape-beatles have not concerned themselves overtly with issues of copyright. Their purchase of that trademark is one of the main statements they've made (along with a handful of articles) about the fact that what they do is controversial, in that way. Their work has much more to do with making music with non-traditional instruments (in this case, playback equipment) and social/cultural criticism, which is (in general) much more interesting than talking about copyright all the time -- another way in which they've influenced Some Assembly Required. I try to address that issue as briefly and as infrequently as a show of this kind can get away with.

So... Lloyd Dunn was one of the first to respond to my request for answers to the SAR Q&A, back in June of 2005. I'm amazed to see I've been sitting on this for so long. He was on his way to Paris, he writes, as he took the time to fill out the questionnaire, so that explains the brevity of his response. That might also be why I never posted it. I was probably planning on asking for an update at some point. Ah well, I forgot about that plan as I scheduled the feature for this week and now that I look at it, I realize it's too late to ask for more info, as I've no other possibilities for a Q&A to run today! Hopefully my longer-than-usual introduction will fill in some of the gaps. And if you're hungry for more information, you can always visit The Tape-beatles online at their website. Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with The Tape-beatles...

*Name: The Tape-beatles

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: Public Works

*Members: 2 (now) - Lloyd Dunn and John Heck

*Founding Members: Lloyd Dunn, John Heck and Ralph Johnson

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: Tape Manipulations

*Another genre descriptor: Performed Cinema

*Why you use this descriptor: We perform with movie projectors.

*Location: Now living in Prague

*Original Location: Iowa City, Iowa

*What is your creative/artistic background: I am a filmmaker and visual artist. Heck is a visual artist and music maker.

*History: Since 1986

Dunn: 1957, Iowa Heck: 1964, Iowa

*Motivations: (from …an interest in making music... using recording technology itself as a creative, expressive medium with unique capabilities. ...The notion that recontextualization of previously ‘finished’ works can be done ethically and can in itself constitute authorship; and making use of contemporary media to critique culture and social milieux.

*How would you like to be remembered: We labor in obscurity, so maybe we'd rather be forgotten!

*Web address:

January 6, 2007

January 6, 2007

Not much to report this week. Working hard to wrap up the next quarter's worth of episodes and then get them all out to the syndicating stations. Also, our podcast this week (episode 128) will be the very last archived (read: re-run) episode. So stay tuned for a podcast schedule in sync with the broadcast schedule. Yeeha.

Actually, next week we'll be running a special DJ Mix, instead of an episode of the show. I basically stopped doing that last year, after podcasting a few special mixes and trying to work them in among the archived episodes. I don't see the special mixes coming back really, but I thought I'd throw this one in before jumping on the brand new schedule. Stay tuned for episode 128, in just a few, and then be sure to come back next week for a special mix of about 53 minutes worth of my favorite, semi-recent (as far as I know, anyway!) mashups. These are bastard pop tracks by 11 mashup artists who I've been playing around at parties and art openings and whatnot. I had fun putting together the mix and thought it would make a good break before going to new episodes in a couple of weeks.

Another small change this year: I've decided to start posting the weekly Q&A as its own blog entry, starting this week. After posting last year's list of Q&A's and then going through and looking at some of them, it occurred to me that it might have been easier to navigate if the links had just gone straight to each feature, sans my personal (often time-sensitive) notes before each one. So, that's something which will change this year. From now on, if I have anything to say, it will go in a short post like this one, prior to posts with the artist feature/Q&A, followed finally by the post featuring that week's episode.

Yet another goal for the blog: easier navigation in 2007. Catchy slogan, huh? Stay tuned for Episode 128, and a feature on The Tape-beatles... Coming right up.

Thanks for listening,
Jon Nelson