Documentation of the People Like Us Retrospective at

Documentation of the People Like Us Retrospective at (entry via alt.vinyl) 61/62 Thornton Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4AW.
16 May-12 July 2008 is pleased to announce the first retrospective exhibition of work by People Like Us (aka Vicki Bennett).
For the past seventeen years British artist Vicki Bennett has been an influential figure in the field of audio visual collage, through her innovative sampling, appropriating and cutting up of found footage and archives. Using collage as her main form of expression, she creates audio recordings, films and radio shows that communicate a humorous, dark and often surreal view on life. The exhibition will focus on the concept of collage, showing an edited selection of her work, including twenty album releases, numerous singles and remixes, live sets, seven films and over a hundred and fifty radio shows. These collages mix, manipulate and rework original sources from both the experimental and popular worlds of music, film, television and radio.   People Like Us believe in open access to archives for creative use, and have made work using footage from the Prelinger Archives, The Internet Archive, and A/V Geeks. In 2006 she was the first artist to be given unrestricted access to the entire BBC Archive. People Like Us have previously shown work at Tate Modern, Sydney Opera House, Pompidou Center and Sonar, and performed radio sessions for John Peel and Mixing It. The ongoing sound art radio show ‘Do or DIY’ on WFMU has had over a million “listen again” hits since 2003. The People Like Us back catalogue is available for free download hosted by UbuWeb.

Every week during the exhibition a different collection of special downloads from the People Like Us archive will be available from the gallery, bring your memory stick along for a free take away!
A specially commissioned essay by Dr. Drew Daniel of Matmos accompanies the exhibition. Download pdf here. Drew’s essay can also be linked to here

Download a larger version of this flyer here
Download the poster (featured top right) here
The exhibition also included a framed essay by Rick Prelinger on The Virtues of Preexisting Material. Here is an excerpt:
On the Virtues of Preexisting Material
© Rick Prelinger 2007
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution License
1 Why add to the population of orphaned works?
2 Don’t presume that new work improves on old
3 Honor our ancestors by recycling their wisdom
4 The ideology of originality is arrogant and wasteful
5 Dregs are the sweetest drink
6 And leftovers were spared for a reason
7 Actors don’t get a fair shake the first time around, let’s give them another
8 The pleasure of recognition warms us on cold nights and cools us in hot summers
9 We approach the future by typically roundabout means
10 We hope the future is listening, and the past hopes we are too
11 What’s gone is irretrievable, but might also predict the future
12 Access to what’s already happened is cheaper than access to what’s happening now
13 Archives are justified by use
14 Make a quilt not an advertisement

Download a pdf of the full text here, or link to the essay here.

The exhibition will also launch a new CD curated by Vicki Bennett for Sonic Arts Network called ‘Smiling Through My Teeth’, a compilation of humorous music and sound art.

People Like Us Special on WFMU
Thursday 15 May, 11pm-midnight (UK time) – To celebrate the exhibition opening Ergo Phizmiz hosts a People Like Us Special on his show ‘Phuj Phactory’ on WFMU, both on terrestrial radio and live internet stream.
People Like Us Talk and Screening
Friday 16 May, 7:30pm
Star and Shadow Cinema, Stepney Bank, Newcastle
Vicki Bennett presents a selection of films by People Like Us.
The Late Shows: Smiling Through My Teeth CD Launch
Saturday 17 May, 7pm-11pm

The Late Shows form part of NewcastleGateshead’s world-class festivals and events programme.

Many thanks to Rebecca Shatwell for inviting us to do this retrospective, it was great fun to work together. Rebecca is now director of AV Festival.

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Honeysuckle Boulevard

The online edition of People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz’s album, “Honeysuckle Boulevard”, which came out at the beginning of 2007 as a free ten inch vinyl release and is now deleted, can now be downloaded for free here, and at the WFMU Blog here. It includes vinyl label artwork, an info text file and also two bonus tracks. The bonus tracks have never before been made available for release or download. If you love vinyl we have a few on sale in our shop, by way of Paypal – price includes Postage and Packing.

Download the audio either as a zip file containing all the tracks, or grab each individual MP3.

Honeysuckle Boulevard (Zip File, contains all files below)

MP3 Tracks:

Side A, Harpo Honeysuckle Suite
A1: Harpo Boulevard
A2: Beyond Perpetuum
A3: Honeysuckle Rose and Perpetuum Mobile

Side B, Merry Go Mambo Suite

B1: Merry Go-Round
B2: Fat Henry’s Mambo
B3: Oh No Not Another Cha Cha

Bonus Track 1: Bad Restaurant Boogie
Bonus Track 2: Social Folk Dance

Album Label Artwork
Informational Text File

Ergo Phizmiz website
WFMU website

For more background information on this project, please read on.
Honeysuckle Boulevard, a self-released 10 inch record (Limited Edition 500 numbered copies) was available from selected record stores/galleries (in exchange for a voucher)
from January 15th-March 31st 2007. This offer is now expired (although we have a few copies for sale in our shop for a very cheap price)

Archived press release (January 2007):

This is the debut collaborative release by artists People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz, available for free at selected galleries and independent record stores in the UK, the continent and US.

Both artists operate on the cusp of both experimental and pop culture, creating radio, audio and DVD releases, film and A/V multimedia.  Their work combines an irreverent approach with a probing curiosity that explores crossover points between media.  By appropriating and recontextualising found footage, they craft collage with equal inflections of wit and impending doom.

This record presents a progressive change for both artists involved.  It references their past works, but moves into new territory, resulting in a very collaborative work, much more than the sum of two parts.  The music is fundamentally electronic (but not usually sounding so), with references to 1920’s ballroom music, 1950’s easy listening, jazz, cartoon and classical music, seamlessly melding diverse elements into a dynamic, rhythmic patchwork.  They combine appropriation with live instrumentation and vocals, with very open tangential musical structures.  With nonsense lyrics that are equally Brothers Grimm and Edward Lear and accompanying slapstick interjections, the result is in an exciting and humorous work.

Recent works include Ergo Phizmiz’s large-scale piece “M: 1000 Year Mix” funded by the Arts Council of England/Match My Foot Records, and “Wholepole – The Discotheque of Erotic Misery” for BBC Radio 3.  People Like Us recently released the album “All Together Now”, and is also Artist in Residence at the BBC Creative Archive.  Both artists are currently collaborating on a full length CD release entitled “Perpetuum Mobile”, to be released in April 2007 on Soleilmoon Recordings.  In addition, both artists broadcast experimental arts shows on the freeform New York radio/internet station WFMU.

This product will be available in the following stores from January 15th to March 31st 2007.
A-Musik (Cologne)
Aquarius (San Francisco)
Bimbo Tower (Paris)
Earwax (Brooklyn)
Le Bonheur (Brussels)
Matéria Prima (Porto)
Monorail (Glasgow)
Rough Trade, Neal’s Yard (London)
Tate Modern (London)
Worm (Rotterdam)

A uniquely labelled voucher (one per person – all IP addresses are logged) can be requested by filling in the form below, and specifying which of the above stores the customer would like to collect from.  Once you have sent your request we ask that you be patient, you will hear from us with a voucher shortly before 15th January, or if you order after this date then very soon.

This venture is totally non-profit, for artists and retailer, and has been met with great enthusiasm from the host stores.  In fact the demand from additional stores that wish to participate exceeded the amount of records that can be supplied.

The marketing aspect of this project is partly a humorous self-parody, in that both artists have favoured the internet as their primary means of distribution and now are encouraging people to go into real shops again and “buy” their music for free.  This novelty form of distribution combines the tradition of regular shopping with free downloading, stretching the notion of the “gift economy” to its limits.  “Below the radar” artists have difficulty with physical distribution of their work because of the poor state of business for non-chart releases combined with saturation of the market.  However, this isn’t a reflection of a lack of audience interest; People Like Us’ album “Abridged Too Far” and Ergo Phizmiz’s “White Light White Heat” have collectively amassed in excess of 50,000 mp3 downloads, so there is no shortage of audience to be testing these theories on.

on thumbnails)





Using the internet and file sharing as our primary means of communication and collaboration, People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz have produced this material over a period of almost a year (Spring-Winter 2006-7).

These recordings document a collaborative research and development process using live performance (with vintage dansette turntables and vinyl dubplates), a CDr album ("Boots!"), a 10" vinyl record ("Honeysuckle Boulevard"), and a CD album ("Perpetuum Mobile").The files available here constitute the research, CDr, and the live performance. The concert is represented by an edit from that which was recorded through the mixing desk and miked up record players, a full unedited microphone recording, and an archive of the tracks which were used on the vinyl dubplates – comprising music from the research period split across various records either through splits in time (so one minute of the track may play on one deck, the next three minutes on another player, etc) or through splits in the actual layers on the tracks (so two or more records playing simultaneously would create the "full" track).


Concert – video edit

Sketches For Boots
Summer 2006

Composed 2006 as R+D for live performance, CD, Honeysuckle Boulevard 10″ Record, and Perpetuum Mobile CD (released 23 April 2007).
1. Domino
2. La Ronde
3. Erotic Ballroom Dream of Bill
4. Last Tango in Parish – Cumshot
5. Bloody Waltz
6. A Cup of Cha Cha Cha
7. Honeysuckle Roads
8. Let’s Dance with Charlie’s Loop
9. Mack
10. Puppet
11. Roy Fucks
12. Singing Lesson
13. Song For Babs
14. Sorry
15. Perpetuum (First Try)
16. Fruity Peter
17. Bed Music (Boopy Doop Doop Scoop)
18. Honeysuckle Ideas
19. Last Tango in Parish
20. Air Hostess
21. Balromulus Machinus
22. Spanked Latin
23. Tiny Mambo
24. Mambobela Rmx with Felix Kubin

Dubplates from “Boots!” Performance
Summer 2006

In which tracks from research are torn apart for live recomposition, then pressed to vinyl dubplates
1. Crying Man
2. Enoch the Drummer 01
3. Enoch the Drummer 02
4. Fat Henry’s Mambo 01
5. Fat Henry’s Mambo 02
6. Gunshot 01
7. Gunshot 02
8. Harpo’s Ambient Love Groove
9. Harpo Boulevard 01
10. Harpo Boulevard 02
11. Harpo Segue
12. Hollers 01
13. Hollers 02
14. Hollers 03
15. Hollers 04
16. Hollers 05
17. Hollers 06
18. Honeysuckle Rose & Perpetuum Mobile 01
19. Honeysuckle Rose & Perpetuum Mobile 02
20. Honks
21. Instruments of the Orchestra 01
22. Instruments of the Orchestra 02
23. Instruments of the Orchestra 03
24. Instruments of the Orchestra 04
25. Mack The What 01
26. Mack the What 02
27. Merry Go Loop
28. Merry Go Round 01
29. Merry Go Round 02
30. Oh No Not Another Cha Cha 01
31. Oh No Not Another Cha Cha 02
32. Oh No Not Another Cha Cha Segue
33. Parp 01
34. Parp 02
35. Parp 03
36. Perpetuum Mobile 01
37. Perpetuum Mobile 02
38. Sad Waltz Because His Dog Died – Solo Flute
39. Sad Waltz Because His Dog Died – Solo Sax 01
40. Sad Waltz Because His Dog Died – Solo Sax 02
41. Sad Waltz Because His Dog Died
42. Singing Lesson A
43. Singing Lesson B
44. Singing Lesson Solo 01
45. Singing Lesson Solo 02
46. Sit Well Back 01
47. Sit Well Back 02
48. Sorry 01
49. Sorry 02
50. Sorry Extra
51. Stalling Samples 01
52. Stalling Samples 02
53. Stalling Samples 03
54. Stalling Samples 04
55. Stalling Samples 05
56. Stalling Samples 06
57. Stalling Samples 07
58. Stalling Samples 08
59. Stalling Samples 09
60. Stalling Samples 10
61. Stan’s Voice
62. Tango & Leer 01
63. Tango & Leer 02
64. Valse For Lydia 01
65. Valse For Lydia 02
Saxophone by Ben Whiting-Wilbee
Flute by Heather McCallum

Boots! Live
Summer 2006

1. Sit Well Back
2. Sorry
3. Merry Go Round
4. Perpetuum Mobile
5. Tango and Leer
6. Harpo Boulevard
7. Mack the What
8. Sad Waltz Because His Dog Died
9. Enoch the Drummer
10. Fat Henry Perpetually Spanked
11. Oh No Not Another Cha Cha Cha
12. Boots! – Full microphone recording
Recorded live at Quay Arts, Newport, Isle of Wight, June 2006
Performed on Dansette Record players and vinyl dubplates, with piano, euphonium, horn, and accordian.
Track 12 “Full Microphone Recording” recorded by Simon Perry
Setlist Images : images/
Concert Images : images/

Boots! CD
Summer 2006

1. Sit Well Back
2. Fat Henry’s Mambo
3. Merry Go Round
4. Tango and Leer
5. Harpo Boulevard
6. Mack the What
7. Enoch the Drummer
8. Honeysuckle Rose & Perpetuum Mobile
9. Sad Waltz Because His Dog Died
All tracks given away on limited CD at “Boots!” Live performance, Isle of Wight, June 2006

Artwork : images/
Ergo Phizmiz website
UbuWeb (many thanks!)
In case you were wondering why this project is called “Boots” we really couldn’t remember for a while (good eh), but then recalled it’s the dancing boots graphic that we named it after. Not Boots the Chemist.

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Story Without End – DVD

Sonic Arts Network proudly presents a collection of short films by leading British A/V artist People Like Us, a true champion of a particularly English sense of humour. The DVD shows a journey though a multi-layered 20th Century, represented by bright eyed and enthusiastic images of the modern world, concluding with the new Sonic Arts Network commission ‘Story Without End”. Each of these films are available on this page, through UbuWeb, for free download in mp4 format. However, if you would also like the DVD, which has beautiful fold-out packaging, go to our shop. All prices include postage and packing

Scans of Reviews here:

Story Without End – Review in Jazzthetik July 2006
Story Without End – Review in Trax Magazine June 2006
Story Without End – Review in Black Jan 2006
Story Without End – Review and Interview April 2006
Story Without End – Review in Cinemania May 2006
Story Without End – Review in The Wire May 2006
Story Without End – Blow Up February 2006
Story Without End – Rock Delux Magazine February 2006
Story Without End – Magic Magazine February 2006
Story Without End – Debug Magazine January 2006

Story Without End – Intro Magazine February 2006
Story Without End – Sonic Seducer Magazine February 2006
Story Without End – D Side Magazine January 2006
Story Without End – Go Magazine January 2006
Story Without End – Bad Alchemy Magazine January 2006
Story Without End – Clone Magazine January 2006
Story Without End – Metro Magazine Summer 2005

Story Without End (and three other Films) – review

Music videos for mash-ups are rarely as enjoyable as the audio originals – the pleasure of the sound collage is the simultaneity of clashing spaces, where visual montage makes us choose between one space or another through sequence. The web is awash in video cut-ups today; giddy editors take advantage of bountiful source material in online archives, easy desktop editing software and mostly free distribution through or Surrealist film technique is the stuff of late-night television comedy, as each day’s presidential speeches are cut up and re-arranged for comedic effect.
This explosion of montage only highlights the differences between sound collage and video pastiche. Multi-track recorders, turntables, samplers and sequencers gave us densities no film editor could dream of. Yet sometimes film collage carries a more obviously political impact – visual juxtapositions seem to jar more directly.

Into this dynamic steps the singular art of PEOPLE LIKE US. At the controls is artist Vicki Bennett, a masterful and prolific sound-collagist whose works in video have been recently released by the Sonic Arts Network as a DVD. Where traditional montage makes us choose between one cut or another, Bennett’s meticulous work relies on compositing, masks, and mattes to create a visual simultaneity every bit as dense as what we hear in her music.

Through four works, completed between 2002 and 2005, Bennett has extracted various subjects from their backgrounds, and backgrounds from their contexts. Recombined, these artifacts occasionally grow synchronous with sound, but always stand out in contrast to each other. As in some of the more jarring mash-ups one might encounter on Bennett’s radio shows for WFMU, the seams are far from hidden. A boy sets a toy house down upon a giant circuit board – later we see him again laying out his little town on a pumpkin patch.

Opacities and edges blur to give way to various cohabiting characters – a man peers into a screen to reveal another composited world, even as he’s oblivious to the third one above him, or the beetles crawling over the screen on yet a fourth layer. Narrators stand above it all, promising all sorts of things to come. Bennett introduces each new element as she would a new loop in her sonic compositions, and lets us hold it all in our head for a moment (or sometimes far longer – she loves repetition) before moving on to something else. It’s a happy marriage of pastiche in sound and video that helps demonstrate the musicality of vision – the work is more Vertov than Eisenstein.

All of this makes STORY WITHOUT END a welcome and rare addition to the lively world of the cut-up. Bennett’s films offer much more than this, however. After all, as the narrator of THE REMOTE CONTROLLER tells us, “mixing is so simple, a child could do it.”
Directing Bennett’s deft and patient hand at the mouse is a very specific sort of curiosity, and a particular approach to human creation and action. These films are the result of countless hours of sifting through the archives of various digital and physical collections. Specifically named in the credits are the collections of Rick Prelinger at The Internet Archive (, Skip Elsheimer’s, and London’s Lux collection of avant-garde film. Except for some footage of Bennett’s own screen desktop in WE EDIT LIFE, none of Bennett’s source material appears to be self-generated. She even borrows from herself, recycling audio or video from old works in new.

The result is a very specific kind of collection. Though individual elements within a frame are composited to remain estranged from one another, the ingredients add up to a whole that’s from a particular palette, a specific time and place. In all four of these works, we see and hear hopeful proponents of techno-marvels from modernity’s golden age. Men and women hunch over vintage screens and typewriters, monitoring, tweaking and enjoying newfound power through perfect analog connections. Telephone operators, orchestra conductors, audio engineers, and city planners listen to the spaces on the other side of an edit, command our attention, or carry out plans via remote operation.

We see an artist and an engineer negotiate a new collaboration; we get transferred by a series of attractive switchboard operators from Chicago to Wabash. Maps and radar, puppet strings and monitors mediate the relations between distant actors. Throughout it all, Bennett plays an equally magical role, creating new seamless spaces through edits, as her subjects create spaces through telepresent connections. These hopeful operators and technicians are people like us, twiddling knobs at a remote, if enamored, distance. By revealing her own hand, Bennett identifies herself with the films’ optimistic subjects, who according to their narrators “merely push a button and let something else do the work.” Another narrator adds, “the result is breathtaking beauty, and lasting good taste.”

Like Craig Baldwin in SPECTRES OF THE SPECTRUM, Bennett tells a story of hope about technology, using the artifacts of a more hopeful age. Her films marry medium to message to reveal the folly of such hope, yet without resorting to irony. Refreshingly gentle and humble, the work relies on humor, awkwardness, and empathy to produce skepticism without cynicism. If through her reliance on found materials Bennett lacks the faith of scientist-magicians who create something from nothing, she shares their joy at seeing pushbuttons produce results.

In the tradition of modernist reflexivity, Bennett relies on the stutter, the scratch or pause to call attention to her own hand. Importantly though, she reminds us that stutters and burps are also human, and funny. Laughter is likely to be one’s first and lasting reaction to Bennett’s work in sound and video – so much so that perhaps this act of analysis might seem absurd. Close examination of the works on STORY WITHOUT END yield rich results, however, and make me grateful for Bennett’s generous and labored marriage of humor and criticism.

Kevin Hamilton
February 13, 2006