Artist statement for People Like Us

Vicki Bennett - press photo

Since 1991 British artist Vicki Bennett has been working across the field of audio-visual collage, and is recognised as an influential and pioneering figure in the still growing area of sampling, appropriation and cutting up of found footage and archives.  Working under the name People Like Us, Vicki specialises in the manipulation and reworking of original sources from both the experimental and popular worlds of music, film and radio. People Like Us believe in open access to archives for creative use. 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, Whitechapel Gallery, The Barbican, Centro de Cultura Digital, V&A, Sydney Opera House, Royal Albert Hall, Pompidou Centre, Maxxi 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” downloads. since 2003. The People Like Us back catalogue is available for free download hosted by UbuWeb.

Longer Biography
Filmography
Exhibitions and Editions
Selected Performances and Screenings
Commissions and Awards
Discography

People Like Us 2016

No One Is An Island now on UbuWeb

No One Is An Island, a radio piece by Vicki Bennett originally broadcast on WDR in 2016 is now available for listening and download at UbuWeb. http://www.ubu.com/sound/plu_noone.html

Thanks to the following for taking their time to give their thoughts about ideas:
Ergo Phizmiz, Savanna, Rowen, Mathilde, Lila, Andrew Sharpley, Ava, Cameron, Katja Seltmann, Rick Prelinger, Iain Chambers, Jeff Carey and Falco, Graham Duff, Kenneth Goldsmith, Charlie Lewis, Henry Lowengard, Tim Maloney, Kevin Hamilton, Akāshamitra, Dorian Jones and Lenny, Marcus Boon and Jesse, Saraka, Suddhaka and Sunayaka.  

No One Is An Island
Where do ideas come from? Are they our own or are we channeling some spark from a larger flame? In this programme we examine the relationship between artists, writers, scientists and philosophers and the receiving, possession and transmission of ideas.
Culture is a complex process of sharing and signification. Meanings are exchanged, adopted, and adapted through acts of communication. The tools we use – the photocopier, camera, computer, encourage, in fact insist upon the act of cutting, copying and pasting – it is second nature. Through mimicry and repetition we learn.

Original post with more info on the initial broadcast: http://peoplelikeus.org/2016/radio-premiere-wdr-no-one-is-an-island/

Radio Premiere on WDR: No One Is An Island by Vicki Bennett

WDR 3 Open Sounds presents : No One Is An Island by Vicki Bennett
Listen live on this link on Saturday with this pop up player on WDR 3:
http://www1.wdr.de/radio/player/radioplayer106~_layout-popupVersion.html
(if this doesn’t make a pop up player just follow the WDR3 pop up link in the paragraph directly below)

Vicki Bennett was commissioned by WDR (German Radio) to make a 28-minute radio work called No One Is An Island.  This will premiere, alongside 3 other separate commissions (Iain Chambers, Ergo Phizmiz and Lucinda Guy) on
Saturday, April 9, 2016, 22:05 to 00:00 (Mainland Europe – that’s 21:05 UK time).
Background info http://www1.wdr.de/radio/wdr3/programm/sendungen/wdr3-open-sounds/from-britain-104.html

Update: this piece is now online at UbuWeb! http://ubu.com/sound/plu_noone.html

Thanks to the following for taking their time to give me their thoughts about ideas:
Ergo Phizmiz, Ava, Savanna,  Rowen, Mathilde, Lila, Andrew Sharpley, Cameron, Katja Seltmann, Rick Prelinger, Iain Chambers, Jeff Carey and Falco, Graham Duff, Kenneth Goldsmith, Charlie Lewis, Henry Lowengard, Tim Maloney, Kevin Hamilton, Akāshamitra, Dorian Jones and Lenny, Marcus Boon and Jesse, Saraka, Suddhaka and Sunayaka.

No One Is An Island
Where do ideas come from? Are they our own or are we channeling some spark from a larger flame? In this programme we examine the relationship between artists, writers, scientists and philosophers and the receiving, possession and transmission of ideas.
Culture is a complex process of sharing and signification. Meanings are exchanged, adopted, and adapted through acts of communication. The tools we use – the photocopier, camera, computer, encourage, in fact insist upon the act of cutting, copying and pasting – it is second nature. Through mimicry and repetition we learn.

UbuWeb new addition: Don’t Think Right, It’s All Twice

Yes, now available for free download courtesy of and thanks to UbuWeb:
Don’t Think Right, It’s All Twice
http://www.ubu.com/sound/plu_thinktwice.html

  1. Music Sounds Better With Me
  2. Free Rod McKMoon
  3. I’m Dreaming
  4. Blue By You
  5. Summer Music For An Almost Equinox
  6. Crazy
  7. Stand By Your
  8. Once A Pun A Time
  9. Break Me, Break My Horse
  10. Recycling Is Nothing New
  11. Oh Moon
  12. Trains and Blackbirds
  13. Free (As A Chapel In The Moonlight)
  14. Don’t Think Right, It’s All Twice
  15. Singin’ Femme Fatale (with Ergo Phizmiz)
  16. Abridge
  17. The Atlantic Conveyor
  18. Panic As Usual And Avoid Shopping
  19. Eve Of Sunshine

Release date: 31 October 2013
Cutting Hedge SNIP001 

The music on this album was composed between 2006 and 2013 initially for five different live performances of moving image and sound.

Performance sources:
Lyrics in Libraries (2006) | Genre Collage (2009) | People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz Live at Cafe Oto (2009) | The Magical Misery Tour (2011) | Consequences (One Thing Leads To Another) (2013)

Some of the tracks listed above also have a moving image representation in People Like Us in UbuWeb Film

RELATED RESOURCES:

Ergo Phizmiz in UbuWeb Sound
People Like Us in UbuWeb Film

UbuWeb new addition: Welcome Abroad

Another People Like Us album now available for free download over at UbuWeb:
http://www.ubu.com/sound/plu_welcome.html

Welcome Abroad {2011)

  1. Sing
  2. Happy Lost Songs
  3. Stuck in the USSR
  4. The Look
  5. Help Me To Help Myself
  6. What Will I Do
  7. Lost In The Dark
  8. Push The Clouds Away
  9. The Sound Of The End Of Music
  10. Wonderful Wonderful
  11. Driving Flying Rising Falling
  12. Ever
  13. Hush
  14. Wandering
  15. The Seven Hills of Rome (with Ergo Phizmiz)
  16. You’ve Got To Know When
  17. The Atlantic Conveyor

Release date: 24 May 2011
Illegal Art IA124 http://www.illegalart.net

Press release

“Welcome Abroad is the soundtrack to a dream – overlaying a cabaret with the circus, a music hall with the radio, a nightclub with the movies. Finely tuned sounds from the collective unconscious, fitted together with care and clarity and skill, producing a hallucinatory landscape that shifts and slides, shimmering with each new sample. Julie Andrews duets with Jim Morrison? Damn.” –Steinski

Vicki Bennett, under the People Like Us moniker, returns from several collaborations for her first solo album in several years. Stranded in the United States for an extended period after the Icelandic volcano eruption blocked her British homeland’s airspace, Bennett derived thematic material of displacement, travel, and a longing for elsewhere, from the natural disaster that caused her own predicament. Volcanically marooned in Baltimore and NYC, Bennett utilized some of her “free” time to work on the album and even gained audio contributions from fellow experimental musicians Jason Willett (of Half Japanese) and M.C. Schmidt (of Matmos) via her extended stay.

Taking a glance at just a few tracks from Welcome Abroad, songs from The Beatles, Ennio Morricone, Danny Kaye, Bob Dylan, Rod McKuen, Elton John, Gene Pitney, Elvis Presley, Dionne Warwick, John Denver, Julie London, and Queen are all amalgamated.  While recent mashup culture often centers on the instant gratification of seamlessly juxtaposing hooks, People Like Us tracks transform the source material into collages that are equal parts dissonance and pleasure, making artful commentaries on our culture and Bennett’s own existential amusement within such a wondrous world.

Thanks to Ergo Phizmiz, Jason Willett, M.C.Schmidt (Matmos), Virginia Pipe and Wobbly for contributing instruments, audio parts and multitracking to this album.

Lyrics on The Seven Hills of Rome by Ergo Phizmiz.

Some of the tracks listed above also have a moving image representation in People Like Us in UbuWeb Film

RELATED RESOURCES:

Ergo Phizmiz in UbuWeb Sound
Jon Leidecker (Wobbly) in UbuWeb Sound
People Like Us in UbuWeb Film

UbuWeb new addition: Blather (Pts 1-3)

Another 3 additions to People Like Us over at UbuWeb.  Many thanks Ubu!

Blather (2012)
http://www.ubu.com/sound/plu_blather.html

Blather is a 3 part radio series made specially for Radio Boredcast, taking us on a journey through all the kinds of sounds that the mouth makes, whether that be for artistic, comedy, practical, mind-altering, religious or work reasons.

Radio Boredcast Blather Part 1
Radio Boredcast Blather Part 2
Radio Boredcast Blather Part 3

Full playlists for the above radio shows at http://www.ubu.com/sound/plu_blather.html
Radio Boredcast: http://wfmu.org/playlists/zz

 

UbuWeb new addition: Cumulative Tails

INTERRUPTIONS #15. Cumulative Tails. 30.12.2013 (90′ 34”)
Courtesy of RadioWeb MACBA

Playlist [PDF]

Cumulative Tails is a pun upon the ‘cumulative tale’, where each part of a story relates to that which just preceded and followed it. This radio mix has been created using that process – a succession of audio tracks picked in conceptual relation only to that which was previously played. The mental connection could have been made by the title, lyric, melody, genre, atmosphere or something (usually) far more incongruous…

UbuWeb Link: http://www.ubu.com/sound/plu_cumulative.html

Cumulative Tails is a pun upon the ‘cumulative tale’, where each part of a story relates to that which just preceded and followed it. This radio mix has been created using that process – a succession of audio tracks picked in conceptual relation only to that which was previously played. The mental connection could have been made by the title, lyric, melody, genre, atmosphere or something (usually) far more incongruous…

Summary
While searching for material for my project Radio Boredcast (2012), I came across an episode of the KPFA radio show Ode to Gravity entitled ‘Segue Tech’. In the show the presenters choose each track they play in response to what the previous track reminds them of. ‘Segue Tech’ got me thinking about the creative process and how in my experience it’s rare that the idea arrives in advance, as an intact gift-wrapped and gleaming entity. More often, the “idea” is exposed through a series of connections made through the creative journey, as much emphasising the process as a particular destination or end product. Similarly as human beings, our knowledge and vocabulary first evolve through mimicry and then experimentation with varying of these repeated actions of mimicry. While discovering or just guessing a connection between something already known and something new or unknown we then go on to develop a vast ever-expanding web of cerebral connections, pinpointing all sorts of associations on a giant nonexistent map that may actually make no sense when looked at from a distance.

The word ‘Consequences’, has two definitions; it is the result of some previous action, and a game (aka ‘Exquisite Corpse’ by the Surrealists) in which a larger picture or narrative is created by way of assembling subject matter ‘blindly’ in relation to a small amount of information made visible before it as a continuation point. As a result, narrative/content can erratically or surprisingly, sometimes magically change over a short period of time or space, with every part still connected to what goes before or after it.

The subject of authenticity or the ‘original’ in relation to the ‘copy’ interests me as an artist working in the field of appropriation, collage and industrial folk culture. Nothing created as an object or product can be traced 100% to an origin –– everything is relative, literally – it has a mother and father. The identifying factors of an object are not central to it’s actual essence of being, and much like speed, dimensions, size, the terms are not fixed and are reliant upon the conditions of the person experiencing it, where they are and when, there is NO absolute, and this is reflected when very similar creative works occur at the same period by people who have no knowledge of each other’s works existence.

The game Consequences can be compared to the artistic process, whether that be the laying out of notes for a text, making a storyboard or the construction of a film narrative. Consequences is an index of possibilities and daydreams that in fact need no end outcome, it is all about the journey. When played as a ‘game’ it’s an entertaining way of finding out about one’s own memory, making visible the hidden patchwork quilt of an individual’s knowledge banks – hinting at how we make connections within ourselves and to each other all the time. We are able to visualise the scope for making tangents within the overall journey where every direction is permitted, and sometimes discover the limitations of our own hard circuitry (our memories). With internet search engines, forums and databases we are not limited to just our own recollection of a song or a text or a movie scene, we can search other peoples memory banks too through keyword searches – the whole of the internet is a massive thesaurus of unrealised new connections and potential creations.

New films on UbuWeb

A number of new additions have been made to the People Like Us film section on UbuWeb. Go and take a look!  http://ubu.com/film/plu.html – all films include download links.  Don’t trust the cloud!

Free Rod MckMoon from Consequences (One Thing Leads To Another) (2012)
The Golem – An Inanimate Matter (2013)
We Are Not Amused (2013)
Notations Documentary (2013)
The Big Sleep (2014)