been thinking about this subject too since the last mention of it on the
list and I've completely confused myself so I'll share my muddled thoughts.
I've bought quite a lot of the recent british bootlegs through an obsession
for any unusual vinyl but I do find it strange that they have gained quite
as much 'cool' currency as they have. when it's just 2 pop songs combined I
feel it's nothing more than a reasonably creative DJ should be attempting
live and while some are no doubt inspired, I feel that they take some of the
imagination out of DJing. It's when they're unusual juxtapositions that it
gets exciting and for my money nothing has equalled the ECC's public enemy
tracks for that excitement - what the..? how the..? is that..? But then I
suppose this is the reaction jon got in his office with the newer ones.
The latest Underground Hit Bootleg TM over here is Are Friends Electric with
a Destiny's Child a capella or some such. These are the bootlegs sure to get
you in the pages of style mags, an ironic '80s cool with something modern
and pop - and I guess that is where the recombination really flexes its
muscles, in the transformation, not of the eighties electronic music, but of
a trash pop vocal into something that is now 'cool'. The audience suddenly
re-examining their blanket dismissal of swingbeat, the bootlegger knowingly
more 'pop' and at home with his 'pop'ness. Incidentally, addressing Peter's
naming issue, the style mags here have dubbed them "bastard pop" and
I enjoy the Osymyso and cartel stuff and know one of the cartel video boys.
He works for a video editing company doing final edits on MTV clips, which
makes the piracy of MTV clips a touch more piquant. He definitely hasn't
heard of Oswald or even Negland, coming from a techno background. I did an
interview with the other two for Bizarre, an uncut version of which is
attached below. They do a bootlegs-only night once a month in London which
is quite a lark.
The recent wave of this kind of bootlegging seems to have begun with mp3
versions and was enabled by the internet. I think the strength of the
process lay in its ease and disposability. Another transformation takes
place when these tracks cross the line from virtual into physical product
and many are now never existing in the virtual world (outside of their
creator's hard-drives, at least) but are becoming product directly and I
think they lose some of their strength by doing so, but can only explain why
I think this by drawing a parallel with guerilla warfare - it keeps them
loose and flexible and able to move on. But I buy the physical product so I
can't deny their creators the odd quid and it gives the tracks themselves a
permanence which maybe the creators want.
And I guess that's it. Check out this guy who does silly versions of very
British TV themes http://www.diffusiononline.net/.
And here's that interview:
JOHN╣S NOT MAD
It is the stuff of playground legend. Once there was a film on TV and in it
a boy did swear, yea verily he did profane greatly. "Fuck", "Cunt", "Mum,
you╣re a slut." Febrile pre-pubescent minds weren╣t meant to hear this kind
of stuff. But see it they did and before long the playground of the country
rang with language which would make a docker blush. They were great times.
It was all thanks to the Q.E.D. documentary John╣s Not Mad which studied the
disturbing case of Scottish teenager John Davidson who suffered from the
strange and incurable neurological condition called Tourette╣s Syndrome. And
it remained the stuff of legend untill late 2001 when a video by the cartel
communique and recording artist Osymyso was hosted on the cartel site.
A stuttered and sharply-edited cut-up of the film, a sampleadelic tune
created from the documentary and snippets of Eminem, One Flew Over the
Cuckoo╣s Nest and Will Smith╣s self-righteous MTV Award acceptance speech
fitted hand-in-glove with the video which accompanied, a scratched video.
Those who╣d seen the cartel collaboration to produce a video for Osymyso╣s
disturbing Eastenders cut-up Pat and Peg new the style, but this was
different. This was John╣s Not Mad. And these are the perpetrators.
How did you come by the video of John's Not Mad?
Cartel: An old work colleague recorded it originally back in the day. It had
always been used as the after-pub entertainment, but we realised once
hooking up with osymyso that we had gold in our hands! I've never known
another single person to have a copy.
You must have known it would cause quite a stir with the net children of the
Osymyso: That's one of the reasons for doing it, people know who John
Davidson is, if they think they don't they always do 5 seconds into the
Cartel: Never really thought about it like that. We just new it was
fantastic subject matter that had a kind of mythical status. I think we
first started to realise what kind of effect it might have as we were
actually making it. Every edit would leave us on the floor in hysterics, and
we are our own harshest critics.
How has the feedback been?
Osymyso: There was some negative feedback and some of it is justified, some
isn't. Some people didn't find it funny, not their cup of tea, fair enough
however some people took it upon themselves to try and make themselves look
sensitive and intelligent by finding it 'sick' and 'cruel'. I am a believer
that some of the best comedy out there is uncomfortable comedy. Political
correctness is all very well but I think that some of the protesters were
more interested in making themselves look good than actually sitting down
and thinking about if it really was that bad.
What do you think about the original documentary? It seemed to do more
harm than good, perpetuating commonly held and incorrect myths about
Cartel: The BBC made more fun out of him than we did. Our promo is actually
very fair on John himself, if you pay attention to the final pieces of
narrative, whereas the beeb were hellbent on making his life a misery. The
cruellest thing they could ever do was to ask John to go to the local
library. They never did anything to celebrate John as a top geezer, and we
have. He was the Eminem of the eighties, as he clearly shows with his face
off with Mr Shady in our vid.
Osymyso: I thought it could have been handled better, the narration was
similar to a kids educational documentary not a serious look at a disturbing
condition. John was very much looked at as a freak with the occasional 'he's
alright' moment thrown in for good measure. The history of tourettes
syndrome, its treatment and other sufferers╣ experiences were barely touched
upon. That aside, I find it hilarious, a riot, a fantastic slice of
lightweight cack-handed eighties documentary.
Have you had any offers for work on the back of this?
Cartel: We have had loads of interest, yes. A large advertising agency is
very keen but god knows what we could do for them. We have plenty of things
up our collected sleeves, but if a really exciting offer comes in then we'll
see. Our website (cartelcommunique.com) has had over 140,000 hits in 3
Pet and Peg is far more disturbing than John's Not Mad. What do you think?
Cartel: Absolutely. Taking household names like Pat Butcher and Peggy
Mitchell and putting them in an entirely different light is disturbing for
everyone. Destroying that comfortable familiarity is the true essence of the
cartel!! This is great bootlegging in a nutshell, and what it's all about
for us. Reworking things people would never think about changing and ruining
it for everybody !!!!!
Do you enjoy working with tragi-comic material in particular?
Cartel: We wouldn╣t say in particular, but you could argue that Pat Butcher
and Chris de Burgh are a bit tragic. I think everything we've done has been
startlingly different and yet ended up looking quite similar. Tragi-comedy
is a fairly easy target for comedy, and we're looking elsewhere for the next
Osymyso: I love to use subject matter that has been ignored by musicians,
how many tourettes songs are there? The Tragi-comic element in this track
in particular is probably its strongest feature, most people laugh out loud
then feel bad about it. The track plays with that by inserting John
explaining how bad it is and at the end he tells us to 'Stop Laughin YOU!'
Where next for the cabal/Ozymyso partnership?
Cartel: Three things are planned at present, and we wouldnt want to give
anything away. Although the next promo-booty project is an interesting
examination of Geri Halliwell's new yoga video......
Are there any big musical/film influences on your work? Particularly in the
Cartel: The major influences are all musical. A punk / cut n paste / sample
ethic applied to video. I'm sure its been thought of before, but i've never
seen anyone else do it quite as shamelessly as us. We dont use as much fancy
equipment as people might think, although we do have the access. Its a
simple case of bolting and juxtaposing absurd things together to create
something great. KLF / Coldcut / Avalanches etc all did it, but we have no
Do you like the internet?
Osymyso: Absolutely, my work as osymyso depends on it. I use it for pretty
much everything, research, finding samples, getting feedback and of course
getting the message across. The videos were dowloaded thousands of times and
people have seen it all over the world.
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