Friday, January 30, 2009

A music software maker gets mad at YACHT - my thoughts

So here's what happened:

YACHT admits in an interview that he cracks software. He names Analog Industries as a brand of plugin that he's pirated. Analog Industries finds the interview and posts up on it's blog a response to the interview.

They call him an idiot, pretty much.

Then YACHT responds with a sort of apology in the comments of that blog post.

Then Analog Industries comes back with a big blog post refusing to accept his apology.

Then Pitchfork blogs about it and says "Moral: Don't steal stuff. And if you do, don't tell the Internet about it."


So here's the problem with all of this. Every musician steals software. And if they don't, it's because they don't understand how to. The reason they steal it is because it's expensive, but easy to steal. So understandably Analog Industries is pissed off with YACHT, but they almost seem surprised.

Worst of all is Analog Industries' crass, personal insults to YACHT. On their blog they adopt an informal 'cool' style of discourse. But they go on to say stuff like "annoying hypocrisy of the whole light and happy rainbows trip you're on" and "While it may be the charge of the Hippy Dippy Light Brigade that information wants to be free, etc.".

It sounds to me like YACHT really got to them. On a very personal level. They're not just like "you stole our software, and bragging about it is a stab in the guts", they're more like "OMG YOU SUCK YACHT I HATE YOU YOUR MUSIC ISN'T EVEN ALL THAT GOOD LOLOLOLOL".

What YACHT did in that interview was give a little insight into the way in which lots of bands make music, what Analog Industries did with that info was a little embarrassing.

Screw you Analog Industries. Learn to internet.

Jo: "Screw you Analog Industries", "Fuck you Apra"... Gee whiz you're an angry-pants this week... I think the internet is making you cranky, maybe you should take some time out...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

People making videos of themselves dancing and singing to our songs

It's pretty crazy and cool to find this stuff. Here are some youtube videos I've come across of people dancing and singing to our tunes. By the mos disturbing/amazing one is the one in which someone draws a face on a pillow and forces it to dance. Pretty degrading to the poor pillow. Anyway, check it out

And here's one we've blogged about before:

Stupid copyright law

I know we just posted about this the other day, but it makes me so darn mad that I just wanted to say something more.

I was just having this very very annoying conversation with someone I know who I won't name here, but rather just refer to as Mr Law Student. Sidebar: I hate most law students. Except for our friends Vita and Alistair. You guys are ok. Everyone else though.

Anyway, Mr Law Student and I had this very irritating uh.. discussion where he went on about how copyright laws are there to protect artists and downloading music for free is just like stealing from a shop etc etc (I think he's seen too many of those terrible piracy ads we have here in NZ..."you wouldn't steal a car, you wouldn't steal a book, you wouldn't steal a pie... internet piracy IS stealing").

Unfortunately, while he's both annoying and wrong, his stupid law student skills made him good at arguing, whereas when I have arguments about things I get flustered and forget all of my key points. So, afterward I went to the fine Creative Freedom site and as well as getting a sexy banner for our blog, I found a little article which nicely sums up how a lot of music-y people I know feel about this stuff. Enjoy :)

"The Internet has created new opportunities for artists: new opportunities to reach fans and new opportunities to earn a living. In the past, artists like us had to reach fans through companies that relied on old technology. These companies are now being forced to find new ways of doing business but instead of embracing the Internet they're fighting it.

They fight progress by demanding changes to Copyright laws. In effect, they say, "lock down the Internet so our 1960s way of doing business can still work in 2010." In doing so, they erode civil liberties and hold back the discovery of the new business models. They want to control the Internet just as movie companies wanted to control the VCR when it was first released. But, unlike then, courts and lawmakers are not safeguarding our interests.

It's time for artists to stand up and say: enough! The greatest problem that we artists face is obscurity, not piracy. America's record companies have resorted to releasing malware and suing people without computers, alienating fans rather than figuring out how to turn them into satisfied customers. This cannot continue.

The Internet offers enormous opportunity for New Zealand's artists to break out of obscurity and sell directly to millions of waiting fans. But if the record and movie companies get their way, snooping on innocent people's Internet connections and acting outside the legal system, we risk training fans to have the same cynical attitude in return: "to hell with them".

We don't endorse counterfeiting, mass duplication stores. These people hurt artists, robbing us of legitimate sales. But when an individual fan wants our work enough to go through the hassle of finding a way to pirate it online, we see that as an opportunity. It's an opportunity to meet the fan, to connect them to the artist, and ultimately for the artist to be rewarded for their work. This opportunity will be squandered in the world of restrictions, distrust, and civil rights abuses that the middlemen companies want to institutionalise."

– Nathan Torkington, Musician and Technologist
December 2008

Monday, January 26, 2009

I love the internet and the internet loves me

So the other day I was sitting in class with my laptop, googling my own name to pass the time (Shut up, it's not lame, everybody does it...Right? Right??), and I came across this nice little article about us in NZ Musician Magazine. I hadn't seen it, because well... who reads hard copy magazines these days? Not me. Anyway, it's kind of sweet, and it features a stellar nerdy quote about technology from yours truly. Yay. I google myself and I love computers. My life is GOING OFF. Also they made a photo of us look purple, and that pleased me. Anyway this is a terrible post so yeah... Enjoy.

Nocturnal Couplings
Author: Stephanie Gray

Lil' Chief Records are riding a wicked west coast swell at the moment, their established acts attracting attention and critical acclaim all over the northern hemisphere. Now, as Stephanie Gray reports, the notoriously incestuous label have widened their pop gene pool with the addition of nocturnal synth + vocal couple Little Pictures.

With the intensity of young love Johanna Freeman sings: 'I wish I could tie a string between me and you / I'd pull on the string whenever I felt confused.'
There is no doubt she's singing to boyfriend and bandmate Mark Turner - the song is from a debut album that is as much a dedication to their togetherness as it is a well-crafted collection of electro-pop.
When the 20 year-old Wellingtonians play I Wish I Could Keep You live Mark triggers samples of Johanna's vocals, sneaking them in between words as she sings, to an effect that Johanna confides she finds a little creepy.
Creepy maybe, but it's a charming technique that had a house-full of Dunedin indie-kids jumping up and down with synchronised 'hip hop hands' recently. More than an enjoyable way to stay warm down south, this is a response that Little Pictures have come to look forward to from the Mainlanders.
"I like the South Island because it's less intimidating - more like our tour in Australia," says Mark."People are excited about you being there," Johanna adds.

For that reason the twosome tour out of town as much as their university timetables allow - a mission made easier by the fact they can fit all of their gear into one guitar case. It's the touring musician's dream - to fly unhindered by excess baggage and, as a couple tuned into each others energy levels and emotions, free to do as they please. But it hasn't always been so - until the middle of last year Little Pictures was a three-piece, with friend James Halborow adding drums.
Quietly but assuredly Johanna and Mark started planning for the breakaway two-piece electronic act they would call Owl + Owl, in allusion to their nocturnal tendencies. They kept the act's original name in the end, tucking 'Owl + Owl' away as a name for the album that has now followed their self-released EP 'You and Me and My Amplifier'.

Having shaken off the shackles of a drum kit, Little Pictures shaped their new sound around the monophonic tones of a Moog synthesiser, programmed beats, a glockenspiel and his-and-hers vocals. They then stripped back even further by sampling the Moog - the legendary brand's latest Little Phatty model - into an electronic sampling pad. It's a minimalist set-up that keeps people guessing. As does the way in which Mark triggers samples - joyfully thwacking the inconspicuous black pad with drum sticks next to Johanna who, in gaps between glockenspiel and singing, blows shiny bubbles that float across the ubiquitous divide between band and audience.
"It's exciting to play with stuff that people don't necessarily understand. People see me hitting the pads and there's always a musician in the front row who will come up and ask if I'm actually doing anything," smiles Mark.
"It's fun to make things more mysterious," Johanna adds.

Because it's Mark that holds the sticks, people wrongly assume that he's the songwriter - much to the annoyance of both. They are equally infatuated with technology and pop culture, happily trawling blogs and forums and working their experiences with, and knowledge of new media into their university assignments.
"Lots of people like to talk about gear, but I'm more interested in the social shaping of scenes and looking at how people use technology," Johanna explains.
To fine-tune Little Pictures' sound and style they looked into what other musicians were doing, watching YouTube clips to suss instrumentation. With refreshing honesty, they admit to culturally sampling and taking others' arrangements for their songs.
"We can't sample in the way DJs like Girl Talk can, so we try to recreate things we like," says Mark, who like Johanna listens to a lot of hip hop, and grimier artists like Dizzee Rascal. Being the nice young stars they are, Little Pictures give as much as they take - uploading their mp3s as free downloads and sending a cappella tracks to anyone keen on remixing.
"We'd love it if someone downloaded our song and borrowed a riff or a verse and built a new song around it. So our stuff is there for the taking," Johanna offers.

This is an ethic that Lil' Chief Records must be comfortable with; 'Owl + Owl' was released by the Auckland pop label after co-owner Jonathan Bree saw the band performing at Camp A Low Hum last summer.
"We were quite surprised at his interest, because Lil' Chief has The Brunettes and The Ruby Suns - these lush bands with layers of sound," says Mark.
Clearly the label do like what they hear and are propelling Little Pictures into the wake of those acts, with an American tour taking in Seattle and Portland among other cities.
There's a video clip online of a beaming Johanna and Mark reading aloud the email from Bree asking them to join the label. Recorded late at night after coming home from a gig and logging on to find the good news, the video nicely sums up the zeal and techno-savvy that shines through Little Pictures' music.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Strange new NZ copyright laws mean the end of music blogs

NZ has just passed a strange new copyright law. I know that sounds boring, but it's really extreme. It means that if you are suspected of downloading something illegal (i.e. anything form a music blog, unlicensed youtube video etc) then you can have your net disconnected. No trial, no need of proof, just suspicion.

You can report someone to their internet service provider, and the ISP is required under law to disconnect that person's net. On the spot.

The worst thing is that they are doing it to 'protect artists' rights'. Well we're artists, and this is a huge punch in the guts. Fuck you APRA and RIANZ (two big musician representative groups) for supporting this. You don't care about us at all. I'm really disappointed.

You can sign this petition:

Please do, and spread the word about this strange, over the top new law.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lil' Chief Records has a blog

Lil Chief are our NZ label, and they've got this new blog that the artists from the label are posting on. Pretty cool, keep your eyes peeled:

Lil Chief Blog

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Our song is playing on Air France flights (oooh)

So we just somewhat belatedly remembered that we were asked last year if we would let our song "This House Can Fit Us All" play for about a month on an Air France in flight radio channel thing...this goes in the same category as having shirts with our faces on them in Urban Outfitters... novel, but also slightly confusing! Here's the song:

Little Pictures - This House Can Fit Us All

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

We did a Weezer cover for a compilation, download it here

We were asked by Buffet Libre to take part in their next compilation, REWIND. They asked us to do a cover of a song from the 80s or 90s and we chose Buddy Holly by Weezer. We chose it because it's awesome, and because it reminds us of windows 95 (remember how they had the video included with windows 95 to show off window's multimedia abilities?)

They've got like 50 artists to contribute including Au Revoir Simone, Little Boots, The Ruby Suns, The E.L.F. so we feel pretty chuffed to have been asked

So here it is. It sounds like most of the stuff from the upcoming album we're recording, with sort of hip hop beats, biggish instrumentation, and lots of boy/girl New Zealand-ese singing. Hope you like it!

Little Pictures - Buddy Holly (Weezer cover)

Camp A Low Hum + February touring w/ Connan Mockasin

Thought it was time to tell everyone that we're playing at the ultra good times festival Camp A Low Hum. We had the best time last year. Awesome crowd, but most of all awesome people to hang out with and meet. Such a nice little community. Can't wait!

We're playing at 12:30 on the Sunday on the Nice Stage.

We're also doing a New Zealand tour with Connan Mockasin. His new video and album is awesome! Check it out, and we might see you there :)

Little Pictures and Urban Outfitters

So we decided to sign the T Shirt contract with Urban Outfitters. They're going to do a run of shirts featuring pictures of us on them.. how weird is that? It's all on a pretty small scale really, but it's still exciting.