Monday, September 28, 2009

What's been going on in the Bay in a hot minute

I've had a fantastic couple of weeks in the Bay Area, especially as the San Fran Summer is in full effect - come October it will be beach time again, at least from 12pm-4pm before the fog rolls in.

One of the highlights was chilling with the Dutty Artz & Que Bajo?! crew, especially Geko Jones and Uproot Andy. Quality gents, both. Deep and broad musical selection, with emphasis on the "musical." That's a risky term, probably linked in my mind with melody (is that ethnocentric?) or something. Maybe I would set their "musical" against my "visceral-conceptual"? I don't know, but anyway I find them pretty inspiring. If they are hitting your town -which is pretty likely given their insane tour schedule- don't sleep. Literally, don't sleep, just dance all night.

I was lucky enough to rock out with them in NY a couple times, and then they hit San Francisco to play Chief Boima's amazing party at Little Baobab. Now that was a truly great event! Seemed like people started dancing the minute they came in the door,* none of that hanging around the edges waiting to get drunk enough to feel okay on the dancefloor, people were right out there and stayed out there.

And then I had more great luck - I got to spin with DJ Dub-U (doing a pretty hilariously fun tag team), opening up for the mighty DJ Slugo. Recap of that to follow shortly. Suffice to say that you Bay Area peoples need to get over yourselves and come out earlier to the Li Po lounge because every aspect of that night was amazing but the first half was too empty and the music was indeed utterly bangin. But by the time Slugo hit the decks the crowd was going nuts. You shoulda seen it. I wouldn't say there was much Jukin (clearly, in the Bay, we need more internet videos to instruct us, although Mr Slugo's awesome lady did her best to show us how to work it out.)

*Actually one aspect of that reminded me of my gig at Eclectic Company. There was a gang of people at the bar who started dancing as soon as the music came on, and more joined them when I started djing, which was gratifying.. but it was clear their priority was to dance, as much as possible. I was playing bouncy hipop and glitch and dancehall remixes and suchlike, and I thought they didn't seem like club music people but it might be worth taking it up to club music tempo --after all who doesn't want to bounce to bmore? But it became clear that they were mystified by the speed and the music. What was adorable was that they didn't leave the dancefloor. They kinda bounced their knees, and looked around, as if asking each other how to dance to this, and sorta waiting in the hopes they would get the hang of it or the music would change. But they didn't leave! That really warmed my heart - they were more interested in dancing than in being experts on the music, or even being familiar with it. In the end I sorta relented, let go of my hope to play stuff at club music tempo and brought it back down to a more hiphop tempo and they immediately started jumpin.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

ripley goes to oz!!

I'm soon to be off again. Farther afield than I've ever been. Yes, it's time for
ripley's first ever Australian Tour!

I am super excited to report that beginning with a lovely email from the Sound SummitElectrofringe festival/conference (which are somehow related to the This Is Not Art festival), I have been able to line up a small tour and a short series of talks in Australia starting two weeks from now. Please spread the word, and come say hi if you are in Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane or Melbourne.

  • Friday Oct 2 - radio show on FBI Radio

  • Saturday Oct 3-  This Is Not Art showcase Cambridge Hotel (789 Hunter St.) $15
    DJ Ripley (US), The Vivian Girls (US), ILIOS (GR), Bum Creek (Melb), Free Choice Duo (Melb), Ivan Lisyak Crab Smasher, 10k Freemen (Bris).
    I think I play last at this one, so pace yourself!

  • Sunday Oct 4 -I'm on a panel discussion and then I give a presentation about my research in JA.
  • Wednesday Oct 7 - A talk at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), subject TBA
  • Also, djing at  Scuba Tank courtsey of the Dank Morass crew
  • Friday Oct 9 - Omelette and Bass Bin Laden present a kickass show at Roxanne Parlour with Vibesquad, Spoonbill, Unsoundbwoy and Wanklerotaryengine plus Dj Shredder. For more details visit http://
  • Saturday Oct 10 at Dirty Shirlows, Marrickville, New South Wales
    with Svelt, as part of something that sounds oddly hilarious called "sketch the rhyme"

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Upgrade issues..

The UpgradeNY event went really well. Very high quality scene over there - good questions from the audience and I think we neither of us (Karl Fogel nor I ) pontificated too much.

It was livestreamed, but I think it's been recorded in video even, and perhaps that will go up at the website for the gallery space. I will post about that as I learn more. I'd be curious to see it because I gave a 10 minute talk about issues which may both connect and separate the Jamaican music scene's dynamics around copyirght law and the dynamics of the open-source software movement.

Some interesting points that came out:
I suggested that repetition, reference, citation and familiarity are all methods of building and maintaining community & social connection (which is necessary for the scene to function). What they amount to is shared culture - that is, the things that are repeated are or become part of shared culture. So we talked a bit about whether there was shared culture in the open-source software scene, and whether it mattered whether there was or not. Several audience members talked about their experiences with this as well. Short version - Karl said that open source as a movement came from US and Western Europe first and tends to have a libertarian-ish culture and some specific practices, and as the movement included more programmers from elsewhere, there did indeed come to some clashes.

A couple audience members said that the clashes were sometimes dealt with (or rather, avoided) through projects where people who had similar norms worked together.

One interesting example discussed here (which also might be an example of something else), was the practice in open-source scenes where mistakes in one's code can and ought to be publicly criticized. Karl said that people joining the scene from outside the US (he mentioned India) felt threatened by that public criticism --which he sort of framed as a cultural response. But he also mentioned that some of those people felt threatened because they (in India) worried that their bosses might see criticism of their coding and devalue their work. This suggests to me that the larger cultural context matters too - one's employers or others around you have to understand the practice (so, Google probably doesn't punish its employees for having code criticized publicly) - is that culture or corporate culture, or both? Can they change?

But it's also an issue of material positions and what's at stake. Karl also made this point in another contexts, that one's feelings about property rights and ownership probably depend partly on whether you are really on the brink of survival, or instead are living comfortably. I think this is spot-on and not addressed enough.

I suggested that alongside how property ownership can matter psychologically and materially in terms of feeling secure in one's livelihood, it also relates to identity. Especially when you are talking about music and creative works. One's identity may be extremely likely to be tied up in creative work (also given the way identity and culture mutually build each other). This may matter especially when one comes from a place where one's identity is consistently devalued, which Jamaicans may feel in relation to other parts of the world, or poor Jamaicans may feel in relation to the colonial story, and the way systematically exploited & oppressed people feel (and ARE) devalued culturally in relation to dominant cultural narratives and images. Anyway even though I am critical of property rights defined economically, I can see how identity and control of self can be defended, in some ways, by using property language. I just worry about what else is included in that language as it is currently defined.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Today! Brooklyn!

09/03/2009 - 7:30pm
09/03/2009 - 11:00pm

Thursday, September 3, 7:30pm

The Change You Want To See Gallery is pleased to host another installment of the Upgrade! NY series on open source as it relates to activism and creative practice. This month we'll explore how changes in technology and social convention affect music, software, and culture in general.

We'll start the evening with a conversation between scholar and DJ Larisa Mann, and developer and open source advocate Karl Fogel. Their discussion will examine how Jamaican music has developed in the absence of an effective copyright regime, how technological and social conditions affect the music and musicians, and how this compares to the open source movement of today.

Afterward stick around for a party and DJ set by Larisa Mann (aka DJ Ripley). Ripley was voted "Best Dance DJ of 2008" by the readers of the SF Bay Guardian.

Not in NY? Tune in to a live stream of the discussion at 7:30pm EST at

Larisa Mann is a PhD Candidate in Jurisprudence and Social Policy at UC Berkeley Law School, and resident DJ at SuryaDub, San Francisco. She researches the social implications of intellectual property rules, the legal implications of actual creative practices, and explores the implications of networked life (day-to-day reality permeated by networked technology) for our concepts of rights.

Karl Fogel is an open source software developer and writer who works for Canonical, Ltd, the company behind Ubuntu, helping with the open-source Launchpad collaboration platform, as well as, a California-based non-profit that promotes public understanding of the history and effects of copyright, and encourages the development of distribution systems suitable for a networked world in which the cost of sharing information has gone to zero.

Upgrade! NY is co-produced by Eyebeam and Not An Alternative.