Producer pushes technology reform
Over 30-something years as a part of music, digital sampling has become more restricted by the industry even as technology to manipulate and recombine samples has introduced infinite creative possibilities.
That’s the tension at the heart of Amerigo Gazaway’s work. Under the Soul Mates Project label, the producer’s “conceptual collaborations” meticulously combine samples to imagine team-ups that never were, like Fela Kuti with De La Soul (“Fela Soul,” 2011), A Tribe Called Quest with Pharcyde (“Bizarre Tribe,” 2012) and Marvin Gaye with Mos Def (the two-part “Yasiin Gaye,” 2014). These free downloads became Internet sensations and brought adulation from the music press. There was a problem, though: Although he wasn’t charging for the music, he hadn’t cleared the samples, and record companies came calling with cease-and-desist orders.
“It’s tricky: The ‘Yasiin Gaye’ got shut down in 2 days,” says Gazaway, 30, who will play a couple of DJ sets during Wednesday night’s preview party for “Hassan Hajjaj: My Rock Stars” at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
“It inspired me to come back with Volume 2 ... and one of those tracks ended up being picked up for an Apple ad (“You Are Undeniable” from the “What Will Your Verse Be?” campaign). “It’s a more simplified version of the track, easier to clear, but we were able to work that out and get that track on itunes, and that’s helped us a little bit in terms of people not immediately shutting us down.”
Gazaway’s experiences have led him to become an advocate for copyright law reform and for technologies that ease the process of clearing samples.
“There’s gonna be evolution,” he says. “(The industry) will allow it as long as they can monitor it and keep it under their ecosystem.”
Producer Amerigo Gazaway will serve as DJ during the preview party for Hassan Hajjaj’s “My Rock Stars” exhibit at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.