Friday, October 31, 2008

going forward

Researching living options in Kingston, JA (for next year) continues apace.. looks like UWI will be at least the first stop (cross your fingers). Starting to link up with some very interesting and thoughtful people in Jamaica whom I hope will be good starting points for my research.

Looking back: Surya Dub was a lovely crowd, as always. Umoja really brought it - amazing selection and classic tunes all over the place. Unfortunately, Kid K and I left to find our car was stolen. hassle beyond hassle. Luckily our computers weren't in it. 1 week later and it still hasn't turned up -we even drove around some of the more industrial parts of San Fran to see if it was dumped there.. no luck.

o well. onward and, eventually, upward!

Friday, October 24, 2008

who needs to say more? THIS SATURDAY

Oh wow. just check this out - this, my peoples, is who we have coming to Surya Dub.

you know it's gonna blow up with an MC like that!

$5 adv tix at

Special Guests:
UMOJA HiFi Soundsystem (SF/LA/TX)

The Umoja Hi-Fi unites to celebrate their 15th year as a DJ crew. Umoja Hi-Fi was co-founded by DJ Daz (Darren Blackburn) and DJ Tomas (Tomas Palermo) in 1993, and was soon joined by DJ Culture D (Damon Arnone), DJ Jun (Jun Antazo) and Cokni O' Dire (O Williams). The crew's last member, Washington DC's Stevie G (Steve Gamboa), joined in 2000. At breakout LA club nights like Umoja Jazz & Ragga Lounge, B-Side and Chocolate Bar, the Umoja DJs established an eclectic blueprint for the LA club sound, one that included diverse but connected sounds from dancehall and hip-hop, to electronic beats, rare groove and house that typified the name Umoja, a Swahili word for unity.

The various members remain active in San Francisco (Tomas) and Dallas (Cokni O' Dire) and LA (Daz, Culture D and Jun) and continue to rock key parties such as Speaker Boxx at Carbon, Uprock 77, Sunset Junction, Coachella, The Standard, Firecracker and Do-Over. Umoja DJs have also opened for and shared stages with Shabba Ranks, Supercat, David Bowie, Tricky, Jamiriquoi, The Pharcyde, Lennie Kravitz, Freestyle Fellowship and Blood & Fire Soundsystem.
The Umoja 15-Year Anniversary gig in San Francisco will be a groundbreaking gathering. It's only the second appearance in San Francisco in 10 years for the entire DJ crew, and the first to feature founding members Daz and Culture D. Additionally, MC/DJ Cokni O' Dire – a radio and club DJ with Brooklyn, Jamaican and London roots – will emcee in two separate rooms throughout the night and spin a vintage reggae set. DJ Jun and Tomas will perform a two-hour tag-team dubstep and global bass set in Surya Dub's basement chamber. Expect a big night, boom tunes and DJs who live for their art. Pure vibes!

Sub Hz Den
Dubstep, Dread Bass Breaks & D'n'B, Ragga
Maneesh the Twister (Surya Dub, Dhamaal, Dub Mission - Best Club DJ SF Guardian) & Ripley (havoc sound, Surya Dub), Kid Kameleon (xlr8r, Surya Dub), Kush Arora (live Dubwize set - KAP, Surya Dub),
J. Rogers (Blipswitch, Surya Dub), Visuals by CONTACT (Surya Dub)

Inna Yard
Reggae, Dancehall, Bhangra, Global Beats
Jimmy Love (Non Stop Bhangra, Surya Dub), DJ Amar Electric vardo, Surya Dub)

Club Six - 60 6th street
Saturday, October 25th, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More high points from Music Tech

the highest of high points - I won a TERABYTE Hard Drive in the raffle! Woohoo! thanks Seagate! It looks awesome and will actually not fill up immediately (which is what happened the last time I bought an external hard-drive and then got ambitious with media). I actually didn't know that was one of the prizes, I was going for the Les Paul Gibson beauty that was also being auctioned off. But I can sure use the storage.. it will also be great to backup my field recordings when I go to Jamaica.

I met a ton of fascinating people, and had a lot of good conversations. Including a lot of introductions - "oh you should meet x, who I was just talking to, she does just what you are interested in." I also got to make the case, repeatedly, for the importance of ethnographers in the tech world, an idea to which people were surprisingly receptive. There was even another lurking ethnographer, whom I had known before only as an internet connection from my online web journal days (back before they called it a blog): big up! 1995 internet peoples represent!

I was also well pleased to see Rickey Vincent there, moderating the Bay Area Funk panel. This man literally wrote the book on Funk. I know him from the UC Berkeley Hip-Hop Studies working group, which I haven't been involved with as much this semester, but I still have love for, and they are picking up and doing great things under revitalized leadership this year! I had to scale back because at the end of last year I suddenly found myself the sole remaining member of and since I do think it is a valuable student group I thought I should devote myself to getting it back to being self-sustaining. This we are doing - lots of great people involved already, and some cool guest speakers and conferences coming up - more on that soon.

Another interesting theme of the conference was Obama support - a variety of T-shirts from simple to cute ("Barack you like a hurricane"), the extreme point made by Robert Kaye from Musicbrainz who had his head shaved except for a circle at the back on which was dyed the Obama symbol. I guess despite FISA, techies still like Obama. Not that I disagree - at this point I'm just happy that there is someone who believes that sciences, research and experts have a place in government.

There was a very legal-technical panel called "Ethics and Music Law" which I was hoping was going to be a discussion of some of the big conundrums around music and law, but then I saw that it was for Continuing Legal Education credit, which usually means that it's a series of specific questions about how to stay consistent with the Bar Associations ethical guidelines. And it was. Still kind of interesting in that it opened up for me some of the specifics about how musicians and lawyers work together, but not as interesting to me as a deeper discussion of the issues might be: like if the panel was about taking more seriously how different musicians' goals & practices can be from legalistic approaches to goals and practices - not just framed as a problem for lawyers to educate musicians to think & act right, but as a possible clash between law-mindedness and other ways of being.

more updates soon - short promo: Surya Dub Oct 25th! and I'm playing a party in a hay maze south of Half Moon Bay on Nov 7th!

(oh and I learned the truth about acorn)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Music Tech etctechera

At the Music Technology Summit in SF. Some lively discussions - lots of interesting people here. Major Props to Rickey Vincent for stepping up to moderate the Bay Area Funk panel - good to see the UC Berkeley Hip-Hop Studies Working Group peoples representing.. and to see actual local music being featured at a technology conference.

Local-ness being something special that can't be digitally distributed - and also supporting connections to the local community outside of Silicon Valley.

I also got a thrill because Paris just walked by.. I remember listening to his stuff back in 1991.

more to report later, I'm sure.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

out in the field.. in the studio..

Last week I did my first four hours of studio observation for my pilot project. I'm researching musicians' practices in the process of music-making to see how they implicate copyright law. (I use the word "implicate" because I'm having a hard time finding a word that could suggest law affecting practices but also practices having implications for law, but it's that 2-way relationship that I'm most expecting to find and that I don't want to obscure or ignore.) Those of you who have followed along, especially last summer's 2 months in Jamaica, might remember what this is building up to - an ethnography of Jamaican musicians in the context of Jamaican and international copyright law.

The pilot project is on musicians in the Bay Area, to map out some of the ways copyright law comes up in the recording and rehearsing process. By trying to sketch out some of the different ways the law is visible among musicians in the process of creating, I hope to get a sort of vocabulary of things to look out for in the Jamaican music-making process. Ultimately it will all become part of a schema for a comparative study about copyright law and music-making. By focusing on the music-making aspect - the beginning of th creative process, I am going to focus on something that hasn't been so much studied in terms of copyright law's effects. It's easier to track how the law manages the products of music-making (music-recordings), and this has been done in various ways. But what actually happens with decisions in the music-making process? This is what I can't demonstrate in my panel today at the Free Culture Conference. I will be playing music recordings (the product) and talking about what they suggest about the process of making it. But I will be reallye excited to come back from my research with some discussions about music-making (and recording) that rely on evidence from observing the making itself.

Just like article writing, it's easy to see an end product as a series of triumphs and a logical progression of decisions: I thought this, I researched it, and I got a conclusion. Wa-hey! But the process is usually much messier and relies more on chance, setting, social connections and interactions, mistakes, battles, and compromises. I imagine that may be true for music-making as well. In both cases accounts of processes can tell us something important about the conditions of creation - which could help us improve those conditions if we thought it was important.

By the way, if anyone in the Bay Area is in a band, and wouldn't mind letting me observe a rehearsal or two or some studio recording sessions, leave me a note in the comments. I will keep identities confidential (if you want that can include no blogging at all about my experience, otherwise I might write but would keep the identity of the band/people anonymous).

Also if anyone has ideas for more funding for this work, I've gotten some, but living in Kingston is not cheap at all, so I am still working on more. Any sources, public and private, beyond the usual (SSRC, Fulbright, Wenner Gren Foundation, Soroptimist, NSF) much appreciated.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

brief recap from Montreal

Spent the past 6 days in Montreal at the Popmontreal festival/symposium. What a brilliant experience.

  • the high attendance at all the panels I attended and was on
  • the mainly very good questions from the audience
  • the fact that the audience was mostly musicians & artists themselves (I've been to many panel discussions about music that is full of academics, or journalists & industry people, but this was really dominated by artists who wanted to talk about the big picture or their own experience or both - really great)
  • the incredibly high number of good-looking, stylish people everywhere, who were also really nice and engaged and not at all stuck-up
  • The Persuasions busting out some a capella on St. Laurent while waiting for their ride back to the hotel
  • the fact that the last day was all workshops - how to build a contact mic, how to circuit bend
  • the food & coffee
  • Rustie's set at the Rustie/Hudson Mohawke/Megasoid show. Big, bassy, eclectic - getting new hip-hop kids into dubstep, rather than seasoning dubstep with hip-hop
  • Hanging out with Geko Jones and Jah Dan - quality people (and thanks for the Dutty Artz shirt!)
  • an enormous awesome greek meal with Geko, JD, Kid K, and some cool peops from Ninja Tune.
  • an enormous awesome Indian takeaway with Off the International Radar and some good friends including my brilliant & talented host
  • the Baltimore Round Robin - an amazing concept well-executed and totally entertaining. A big warehouse room in which the BRR crew had set up around 5 small sound systems in a horseshoe shape around the edge, some with lights or projection screens, and each system had someone perform one song, and then boom the show would switch to another system. The audience would run across the space to be in front of the next performer. There were bands, spoken word, video art, performance art, electronic fun. I think Dan Deacon was the mastermind, or one of them. It was fantastic and hilarious.
  • my brokeness preventing me from buying a lot of presents and things at the art/craft fair (which was adorable).
  • my brokeness preventing me from eating out quite as much as I liked
  • the fact that there were so many shows every night that I couldn't get to all of them
  • missing Sister Nancy because she began so much later than advertised that I had to run to the next show I wanted to catch
overall a fantastic time and I can't wait for next year! (will post more specific recaps soon)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Free Culture conference & party in Berkeley!

I'm happy to say that UC Berkeley students have started their own chapter of Students for Free Culture, as of the end of last semester. And this semester --this week, in fact-- they have organized a Free Culture conference. It's on Berkeley campus, Saturday & Sunday Oct 11th and 12th, and it's pay-what-you-can.

Saturday, the first day has some great speakers from across the free culture spectrum. Including a panel on remix culture that I will be speaking on. and that night we are doing a Free Culture dance party at Blake's on Telegraph, with one of my favorite bloggers/thinkers/dance-craze-instigators Dj Lone Wolf! plus recently relocated DJ Refusenik, myself, and DJ Kid Kameleon. It starts early --8pm-- and is 18+ before 10pm so come on out and warm up your saturday night in style.

Sunday will be more workshop-oriented - come and get your wiki on, it will be created by the participants.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Na, wie Geht's - I mean SA VAH?

***edited to add: the symposium sessions are all being filmed, and will be up on the website. nice one!***

In Montreal, having just arrived. Preparing for Popmontreal.

I'm doing a listening session, a panel, and a DJ gig, plus getting to hang out in Mile End and meet cool people all over the place.

If you are in or near Montreal, come out for some or all events!

Kid Kameleon is also in town, on two panels and moderating one, and djing as well, so there's really no excuse.

plus, The Bug & Warrior Queen play here tomorrow night!

I'm impressed with many of the panels here - the way the descriptions spell out some of the relevant issues, it seems really in touch with questions a lot of music-makers and music-lovers have. What I like best, reading it now, is all the ways the presentation of the issues separates out issues of power, issues of culture, issues of representation, issues of pleasure and issues of law - although they are all intertwined, solving a problem in terms of representation doesn't necessarily solve it in terms of any of the other things. It's nice to see that represented.

Coming from the legal world, where solving things for law (in terms of "making people's actions legal") is often the goal, even if that doesn't make everything fun, fair or good art.