Digital years are like dog years: Soundhog Interview Pt1
With GYBO shutting the other week, I was drawn back to why the early days of Bastard Pop or Bootlegs (mash-ups was a term which would come only later) in 2002/03 were so special. It may have been a small scene in many ways but hugely influential today. Mash-ups are so ubiquitous now we hardly realise they’re there. They form part of the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony without comment. Time then, to pause and think back with one of the originators, Soundhog.
They say that time moves at a different pace as you get older. The summers that felt so long as a child feel now feel fleeting. And so it was a shock to hear that GYBO (Get Your Bootleg On forum) had shut down for tunes after 10 years. In some ways it’s a surprise that it kept going as long as it did. It always felt as if the first few years were spent with it teetering on the edge of it being shut down through C&Ds or splitting apart under the force of the personalities involved and the flame wars that regularly resulted.
To reflect on this, I should really go to McSleazy who started GYBO and kept it going all these years. Maybe another time. Instead, an original who produced some of the best bootlegs but who never seemed to get the wider acclaim he deserved – Ben Soundhog.
I’m still alive, blundering through what passes for ‘life’ whilst trying to avoid as much of the modern world as possible. I should be writing this with a fountain pen and getting the butler to personally deliver it, but unfortunately it’s not 1951. The climate is favourable as I type, but that could change at any moment.
It depends how you define ‘involved’ (and ‘music’) really. I was buying records when I was 4 years old, and tried to make listenable noise on whatever came to hand not long after. I wrote a few computer game title tunes in the late 1980s, did some fairly rubbish attempts at dance music in the early 1990s, but generally kept stuff to myself. That was until…
I’d been making things which could have just about fitted into the pigeon-hole many years previously, but as with anything it needs someone to coin a phrase and build a scene before you can say that you do ‘this’ or ‘that’. I’d been looping up bits of old records on an Amiga and putting bits of vocal tracks (those select few that could be found on 12″ singles back then) over them using a portastudio since the early 1990s. The main difference was that (again) nobody ever heard them. They just existed on C90s for my own amusement. When I heard the Girls On Top 7″s in 2000 or whenever it was, I started to realise that there was something ‘going on’, so went looking for it. And I found it quite quickly. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so damned inquisitive…
Richard X – WDGADAOU/WB
Boomselection (and also King Of The Boots/Bastard – more of that later) was absolutely pivotal at the start. You can’t say ‘it would never have happened without it’, of course, but it certainly plotted the course and made me aware of what was happening. None of my work ever made it to the site, and 3/4s of the things on there were total rubbish, but it was still massively important. At the time, there was simply nowhere else that you could find this stuff, even if it was in the form of low quality mp3s of XFM broadcasts. GYBO later gave everyone a platform, rather than just what Dan Sheldon and a couple of mates liked, and put ‘us’ in touch with each other. By ‘us’ I mean the 20 or so people actually making the stuff at the time. How things change, eh?
Not quite, but the first couple I did were done in the same way as those old things I’d done on the Amiga, 10 years previously. My PC at the time (a Cyrix 233 based monstrosity, I seem to recall) simply couldn’t handle playing back two audio files at once, so I had to chop up the backing and then the vocals, either in Cool Edit V2 or a freeware tracker program which I can’t remember the name of, and record them to 4-track, somehow keeping them in sync. Happily I only did two or three like that, as I then got a slightly faster PC and could cut out the tape stage. I still used CE2 for a while in a very labour intensive way, then Sonic Foundry Acid for a bit. I finally joined the Ableton bandwagon around 2005.
Second part tomorrow. But for anyone not familiar with Delia Derbyshire, see a Soundhog post here and a mix that can be downloaded from here. But if you want an example of Soundhog’s early work, you can’t do better than A Day In Tracey’s Life, mixing The Beatles and Mogwai into something beautiful. From 2003:
And something much more frivolous, mixing as it does The Proclaimers with the ravetastic 2 Bad Mice