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cheyenne_h on 10/23/2017 at 03:03PM

FMA Q&A: The Freeharmonic Orchestra!

Last year, the Freeharmonic Orchestra made its debut with "Freeharmonics Vol. 1," a groundbreaking round-robin music project that spanned the globe. I interviewed a couple of the artists last year for Radio Free Culture when the album dropped. This year's project is called "Space, Robots, the Future!" and features an impressive roster of musicians: Steve Combs, Lonely Punk, simon_mathewson, Monplaisir, Tapes & Tubes, Scott Holmes, gentil, Monk Turner, Matt Oakley, springtide, Ketsa, Art of Escapism, Jahzzar, Nic Bommarito, Matteo Berni, half cocked, Unthunk, Blue Dot Sessions and Small Colin. Needless to say, it's a profoundly varied listen and was a labor of love by these artists. Check it out (for free of course!) right here. I asked a few of the artists to tell me about their experiences and you can read answers from Simon Mathewson, Offal Tunes, springtide & Unthunk (lightly edited) below.

FMA: How did you get involved with the Free Music Archive?

simon_mathewson: I make music and put it on the FMA. In the past I've put music on Myspace, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Bandcamp etc but I've found that people who use the FMA to find music are far more responsive and my music has been used for film, animation, games, choreography, documentaries, podcasts and more.

Offal Tunes: I have been a participating artist on the FMA platform since July of 2015 and have been releasing material on the site ever since. At first I put out a bunch of tunes by a band called Bad Ronald until they broke up late in 2016. At that point I put together a new act called half cocked. Through the site I have been contacted more than a few times by video artists looking to use our material for their projects, which I found quite exciting. That has never happened on any of the other music distribution sites I have worked with. I also volunteer my time helping produce live sets for the WFMU community as well as helping out with some of the site's curatorial duties. It is a labor of love and I am thankful for the services that the FMA provides!

springtide: I’m the only member of one-man band called springtide. I have been releasing my tunes on FMA since 2012, and it allows me to connect with listeners around the world, including talented videographers.

Unthunk: I use FMA as a distribution hub for my recorded music. I got involved through Lee Rosevere of the netlabel Happy Puppy Records. He graciously agreed to put out something I was working on, and as you know, the label operates through FMA.

FMA: Where do you live and make music?

simon_mathewson: South West England.

Offal Tunes: I reside in Manhattan and can be found walking the streets of the East Village with my rat terrier, Jackie.

springtide: Tokyo, Japan.

Unthunk: Bowen Island, BC Canada.

FMA: How did you become involved with the Freeharmonic Orchestra?

simon_mathewson: Last year I made an album with Steve Combs and he suggested the idea getting lots of FMA musicians together to make a collaborative album. He organised Freeharmonics Vol 1 and I organised Vol 2 (Space, Robots, the Future).

Offal Tunes: Simon Mathewson, who put the whole thing together along with Steve Combs, contacted me through the FMA site back in 2016 to ask me if I wanted to participate in a musical version of an "Exquisite Corpse" where artists would begin a composition and hand it off to someone else for completion. I loved the idea from the get go and agreed enthusiastically. I had a blast working on both projects!

springtide: I didn’t know about this project before Simon asked me if I’m interested in this type of collaboration. Actually, I have no idea why Simon selected me ;-) 

Unthunk: When Steve and Simon hatched the plan to produce the first album, I gather they browsed the FMA artists looking for likely participants. Simon sent me an email, and I was thrilled be included. I was therefore looking forward to Simon's call to action for volume 2.

FMA: Tell me about the song(s) you worked on.


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cheyenne_h on 03/20/2017 at 11:57AM

FMA Q&A: Public Domain Wonders from Monplaisir

Monplaisir: A one-man public domain music machine. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Monplaisir is a man of many bands, and if you've ever cruised through the Public Domain offerings at FMA, you're likely to have encountered a project or two of his! He is devoted to sharing his music as openly as possible with a CC0 license, which allows for any type of re-use, and is internationally recognized as being dedicated to the public domain. Of course, it doesn't hurt to give credit when you use a Public Domain track, but there are no limitations to what you can use this music for. You can find some "Best Of" tracks in this collection: "Let's Hear That Crap!

FMA: Tell me about your music projects on the FMA - you have a few. (Monplaisir, Alpha Hydrae, Komiku, etc). Do they each represent a different style or approach to music?

Monplaisir: I've started producing music under the name of Alpha Hydrae and after few years the name became boring so I've changed to Monplaisir. Monplaisir is like my nickname for everything that fit in noise rock/folk, Komiku is dedicated for the soundtrack of videogames that don't exist which can have some similarities with work under the Monplaisir nickname, Demoiselle Döner is for harshnoise/remix/cold electro, BG du 72 is french noisy songs about love and kindness. With this, I've some bands, SUMMER, frontwave/noise rock, Cuicuitte, a brut folk band with my friend Otite Noire, Pas Dans Le Cul Aujourd'hui, a heavy noise & guitar band, U-Man, improvised french songs... All those names are different ways to approach the music and reach the flow.

FMA: Do you collaborate with others or do you prefer to make music alone?

Monplaisir: I love to collaborate with musicians and to do music alone. Doing music alone is really cool to make fast and precise music, but sometimes it's difficult to make new music because of the lack of chaos and influence. I often collaborate with musicians to do improvisation like in U-Man and Pas Dans Le Cul Aujourd'hui, it's sometimes a pain but really surprising and rewarding.

FMA: Where do you get ideas for songs and albums?

Monplaisir:
Most of the time I get my ideas by trying to do the same kind of music as other bands I listen often (like Cindy Lee, Vampillia, Xinlisupreme, Natural Snow Buildings...). Also I love to have challenges, like, to produce a maximum of music in a short time (Baisers de Sonora was recorded in 26 hours for the FAWM2017), to only use one instrument or two, or like for my project Komiku to create a soundtrack for something that doesn't exist. And when I'm stuck, I look for new guitars and effect pedals.

FMA: Why do you choose to license your work with a CC0/Public Domain license?

Monplaisir: I've chosen the CC0 licence for multiple reasons. First, because I hate the copyright logo, a little C alone in a bubble, so sad. Second, for obvious political choices. I find the actual copyright in France and USA completely absurd. It's based in a philosophy I really don't like, an old individualist way of seeing the culture, which is really sad and greedy. So I want to participate to the alternative. I've seen how it's hard for some people to remix stuff for their own project because of copyright. If I can help to save other artists some time and money to express themselves, all the better. Also, I really don't care about what people do with my music, except when people are oppresive against other people and using my music to do so. I find that a bit rude.

>>  CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO READ MORE!  >>


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cheyenne_h on 01/25/2017 at 02:44PM

FMA Q&A: "The Gateway Bug" Soundtracked with FMA's Help

A still from the film's trailer. Find it here.

A few weeks ago we got a message from a couple of producers, Johanna Kelly and Cameron Marshad, who were working on a film. They wanted some help getting in touch with the band Atlantic Thrills, because their song "Bed Bugs" from a WFMU Live performance had caught their attention. They wanted to use it to accompany the ending credits of their upcoming documentary, "The Gateway Bug."

The film is an exploration of 'entomophagy,' or, as you might call it in plain English, eating insects! Many have touted this practice as a way to conserve natual resources and take advantage of a food source that is nutritious, easy to cultivate, and plentiful, especially in parts of the world that have not embraced the practice. The film will debut at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on February 2, 2017. More info can be found here.

FMA: Tell me about your project, "The Gateway Bug."  

Johanna: Our fully independent documentary exposes America's disconnect with food as pivotal tipping point for climate change and global warming. Following the terrifying paper presented in 2013 by the UN that food production must double by 2050 to feed Earth's exploding population, and their warning that at this rate, that’s impossible - we needed to know how and why. Upon finding that nutrition is direct result of culture and policy, everyday activities like eating, gardening and grocery shopping become revolutionary acts. This film converts viewers into activists, inviting exploration of taste, ethics and taboos to ignite social change through education.

Cameron: "The Gateway Bug" explores the booming edible insect industry now taking hold in Western countries as a direct response to the unsustainable agricultural practices we’ve witnessed over the last several decades. We discovered the topic through our friend studying at UCSB, and for his thesis he was tasked with developing a business that solves an ecological problem. The problem he was most familiar with was the overfishing of our oceans, and he proposed we start using insects as fish feed, rather than wild fish. Johanna and I found this fascinating, especially when we started talking about insects for human consumption.

FMA: Why did you want to make a film about this topic?

Cameron: The earth and its population are facing many crises at the moment, and food is one big part of that puzzle. We can't survive without it. I am an adventurous eater, and when I heard about humans starting to eat insects in the US, the land of the free and home the quarter pounder with cheese, I was immediately entranced. The reason I wanted to make this film was to tell the story about climate change from a different perspective, one that involves food culture breaking social norms.

Johanna: I'm a filmmaker because I'm a film-lover and I watch a lot of documentaries. It's kind of my favourite way to learn these days and I think a lot of people feel the same way. You can spend weeks trying to finish a book on something you want to know more about, or you can just sit down on your couch and be an expert in a couple of hours. These issues and solutions stand to change the world, so what better way to share them than in the easily digestible (HA!) form of a film? I hope our film helps people see how easy it is to help the planet and minimise climate change. Which in turn hopefully also makes them feel damn good about themselves, improving their health through better nutrition is just a happy side effect in my eyes.

FMA: Do you consider the purpose of the film educational, social, culinary, or something else?

Cameron: I believe the purpose of the film is to enable free thought around how our food is made and how we define what is food. It's a mix of educational, social, and culinary commentary; we meet chefs, farmers, celebrities, and Washington leaders, so we show the burgeoning edible insect industry from multiple angles. We also use archival footage throughout, which is meant to invoke a feeling of "Wait, we've been talking about this stuff for years, why hasn't anything changed?" I think it is a call to action, to encourage new ways of thinking about food production and food culture and their environmental consequences.

Johanna: I think it covers a lot of ground: social impact, environmental, culinary exploration of culture, what it means to survive in America, eating an American diet and how that's a vastly different experience depending on where you were born. We go from cricket farms in food deserts across the rust belt and the water crisis in Flint Michigan to high end restaurants on the lower east side in New York City. From tech geeks in Silicon Valley to Aquaponic farms in Santa Barbara and everything in between.

>>READ MORE below for more answers, further reading, and links!


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cheyenne_h on 11/10/2016 at 05:48PM

FMA Q&A: Monkey Warhol

Image courtesy of Monkey Warhol

Here are the FMA, there are few ways to measure the popularity or success of a new artist - downloads, streams/listens, and, probably most importantly, distribution. By sharing songs under Creative Commons licenses that allow for reuse in video, many artists get to reach an audience that they would have never touched before. This has been the case with recent addition Monkey Warhol. His music has shown up in skateboarding vids, reverse cooking tutorials, video game play-throughs, drawing demonstrations, and even a creepy Dada-esque fan video!

You can lisen to Monkey Warhol's first FMA release, the Darwin LP, here - or watch the official music video for "Lovely Lady":

 

 

FMA: Where are you from?

MW: Minnesota.  The land of Bob Dylan, Prince, The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Soul Asylum, Owl City, and Steven Greenberg (he's the guy behind the disco hit "Funkytown")!  Amazing place, isn't it?

FMA: Yeah, not bad! How long have you been interested in music?

MW: Forever (or at least as long as I can remember)...  As a young padawan my parents would prop me up against the family piano, and I would annoy them with my insistent pounding.  Now that I have a family of my own, I continue to annoy them with my insistent pounding; but since I'm the dad, they can't tell me to stop!  (Actually, they can…  I just don't have to listen.)  I guess some things never change.
 
FMA: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't heard it?

MW: In general… electronic, poppy, hyper, energetic, and fun!  Of course in my mind, my music sounds like a super hip amalgamation of Andrew WK, Daft Punk, and the Flaming Lips.  However, in reality, it probably sounds closer to Moby moonlighting at a "Weird Al" Yankovic concert.

FMA: Where does your name, "Monkey Warhol," come from - and do you consider Andy Warhol to be an influence on your creative process?

MW: "Monkey" is what Mama and Papa Warhol called me when I was a little baboon pounding on the piano, and I guess it just kinda stuck!

However, digging a bit deeper and to geek out, I remember hearing about the "Infinite Monkey Theorem" which states that given enough time any monkey could type Shakespeare and Andy Warhol was quoted as saying "In the future everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes."  So I guess that sums up my musical aspirations and "Internet Culture" in general... Mama Warhol knew best!

FMA: There are many layers to your songs. Where do you usually begin?

MW: The majority of my songs start with silence, and then I build them from there with a chord progression, hook, or pattern.  Through years and years of experience, I've learned that it's best to have an idea for the various parts of a song complete before I hit "record" or else I end up with a hard drive full of half-finished tracks.

As for the layers, I think it's largely due to being self-produced where on playback I'm constantly tweaking, refining, and adding a little "spice" to the mix in order to keep the energy up and keep myself interested.  Actually, it's funny that you mention the layers as I've been consciously trying to refine my production skills and scale back the layers thinking that sometimes less is more... I've actually gone from about 100 tracks a song to 50, so I'm gradually scaling back, but I realize it's still a bit excessive.

FMA: It sounds (and looks) like there are some kids involved in your music (judging from Lovely Lady, in particular). Would you consider your music to be "for kids"?

MW: While I don't set out to write music specifically for children, I'm not surprised that my "sound" combined with my willingness to follow through on stupid/silly ideas (i.e. the "Lovely Lady" video or playing live in a monkey mask) might catch the attention and enthusiasm of some kids.  That said, I still make music for myself, but am honored and flattered by anyone who is willing to take the time and give my music a listen! 


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cheyenne_h on 10/24/2016 at 02:16PM

FMA Q&A: Birthday Songs Find New Life On YouTube

"Greg's Birthday" by Fred Karklin on flickr. CC BY-NC-SA.

AppleBerry Blues (May) is a Youtuber in Toronto who runs the Youtube channel "Birthday Songs" which has been running since July 2016 and already boasts around 100 videos. She is currently a student and spends most of her time attending classes, writing and studying. She's also on Facebook. FMA Director Cheyenne tracked her down and asked her some questions about her channel and how it's bringing fresh eyes (and ears!) to many of our Free Birthday Songs. We at FMA HQ are especially pleased that the charmingly-NSFW "Foul Mouthed Birthday Robot" got a video and does a little dance:

FMA: Why did you decide to start making birthday song videos and posting them online?

ABB: I wanted to have a Youtube channel with videos that could be watched forever and never become dated.  Since birthdays are celebrated by people everyday I thought birthdays would be a good topic.  I also wanted to have a Youtube channel with a positive focus and I generally feel that birthdays have a lot of positive energy associated with them.

FMA: What's your favorite part about making birthday song videos?

ABB: I have the freedom to be creative and do anything I want because I work alone on the channel. I enjoy that I can wake up with an idea on a Saturday morning, and have a video using that idea posted for the world to see by Saturday afternoon. One day I might be working on secret birthday codes, the next day I might do a collage, the following day I might sketch something, the next day I might collect some birthday themed pictures from flickr and assemble them.  I don’t really have a plan, I just do whatever feels inspiring that day with the channel.

FMA: Had you known about the Free Music Archive for long before you started making videos with birthday songs from our public domain collection?

ABB: I had never heard of the FMA before working on my birthday channel.  After deciding to make Birthday Song videos, I stumbled upon the FMA while searching for free birthday songs online. As of October 14, I’ve used 46 songs from the FMA. Some I've used more than once. 1 song  I've used 7 times! In total I have made 84 videos from birthday songs from the FMA. The songs I used the most are:

1. Happy Birthday To You Alternative by Armin Rüdiger Vieweg (7 times)
2. Simple New Happy Birthday Melody by Sascha Ende (5 times)
3. Swine Flu Birthday by The Mostly Bad Virus (4 times)
4. The PD Happy Birthday Song by Iron Curtain (4 times)
5. Happy Birthday by Technetium (4 times)

FMA: What do you use to make the videos (software, equipment, etc)?

ABB: I use a pocket size spiral notebook that I take everywhere where; I jot down ideas whenever they come to mind. My computer, a Dell Pentium 4 running Windows XP. The software I use includes PowerPoint 2003 and Windows Movie Maker 5.1. I also use a FujiFilm FinePixL30 that I use for photography.

FMA: Do you post anywhere besides YouTube? Why or why not?

ABB: Youtube is the main place that I post videos.  I log into youtube everyday to upload a video and respond to any comments. At the end of September, I posted some videos on Dailymotion.  I haven’t decided if I will keep posting videos on Dailymotion and have honestly only logged in a few times since initially posting some videos.I also started a new facebook page at the end of September and directly share my birthday videos from youtube to facebook. I have only posted 6 videos directly onto Facebook.  After seeing the Danish documentary, Facebookistan, I purposely spend as little time on Facebook as possible. I was never really a major facebook fan anyway but seeing that documentary solidified my reasons for using it as little as possible.

Lots more after the jump!


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