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- Posted on Nov 17th 2010 4:30PM by Laura Lanktree
K&E, also known as Toronto's Josh Raskin, speaks from experience. Every one of the album's 17 tracks is a recognizable sample, which he stole from the artists and songs he loves most. The culmination is a precise mash-up with some surprising musical marriages, including one specifically head-turning track called 'Swear Words,' which is exactly that: curses, and lots of 'em.
What's most surprising about these tracks, however, is that as unexpected as some of the mixes are (Destiny's Child meets Sigur Ros, for instance), they are also insanely obvious (hello, same melody!). "I don't think people will be surprised," Raskin says. "People listen to their iTunes on shuffle all the time. It's probably more familiar than hearing an entire record in sequence now."
Regardless, Raskin has dreamed up some exquisite musical moments that hinge on recognizing an incoming beat, and feeling shocked that the two songs currently 'having sex,' as he so romantically describes it, have never gotten into bed before. "What surprised me is how many songs are essentially the same," he admits, "from totally different eras and minds. The accidental overlaps were more exciting than combining things intentionally."
The combinations didn't come overnight, though. An admitted perfectionist, Raskin spent four years sketching and crafting what would eventually become tangible tracks. And with all of the possibilities, he had to set some ground rules. Number one, the songs he cut up had to mean something -- whether it was playing when he lost his virginity (ahem, Massive Attack's 'Mezzanine') or overheard while choking on a peanut. The second and third rules were no effects, and no pitch shifting. He looked for the same keys and chord progressions, and found gold.
It's ironic that 'S--- Computer' was made by these rules, because it breaks so many others. Some would even argue that it breaks the law. Does Raskin think so? "I don't know. I'm not a lawyer." But he doesn't shy away from the term "stealing" throughout the interview either.
When it comes to stealing music, he names the turntables as the pivotal game changer. "It started with hip-hop in the early '80s when people started using turntables as instruments. The whole form of music was based on stealing beats and dropping new beats overtop to create new songs," he says. "But then it was about digging for the unknown, now kids turn on their Internet radio, find something that they like, and use it. So the question isn't 'where did this come from?' anymore as much as 'what am I going to do with it?'"
Raskin further argues that this evolution of sampling, where artists no longer look for obscure tracks to make less recognizable, but rather openly rip them off, actually makes the process more honest.
Legal or not, for Raskin the end goal is to have his music heard and considered. "The most rewarding thing about making something is hearing that it's absolute s---, because it means that people are moved enough to think about it."
This coming from someone who has been nominated for an Academy Award, and whose Daytime Emmy Award (for the same animated short) shares a mantle with a Biggie Smalls figurine and multiple porcelain kittens. If 'S--- Computer' isn't heralded as a groundbreaking accomplishment, it will be a first.
"It's not trying to make a strong artistic statement, essentially it's just trying to get the world pregnant."
Stream the album at Kidsandexplosions.com