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An Interview with Pogo


Australian artist Pogo creates incredible new works by splicing up, reworking, sampling, and arranging existing works.  Although not a new practice, Pogo has shown mastery of the artform by not only creating interesting musical material but combining that with video to create something uniquely his.  His most popular video on Youtube, ‘Alice‘, now has nearly 3 million views and each new video he releases showcases his amazing talent.  He has used many classics such as Marry Poppins, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the original),  The King & I, and The Sword in the Stone to create his new works.  He was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, and so without further ado, a short interview with Pogo:

First, where can we find your work and under what aliases?

I choose to be known only as Pogo. My tracks can be downloaded for free from MySpace and

[my note:  you can find his videos on youtube as well]

How did you get started in electronic music and in particular, what drew you to creating new works by manipulating others?

I began making music when I was 12. I was most excited to have purchased a game called ‘Music 2000′ for Playstation, and I’d spend hours of my free time on a bean bag in front of the television making tracks. Soon after I hit 13, I was blown away by a demo version of Fruityloops, and the software has been the heart of my arsenal ever since.

I listened to a hell of a lot of music when I was a child, and it struck me that I’d often hear small sections, like a chord or syllable, that I’d like more than the rest of the song. So when sampling became available to me, I thought it was a novel idea to take these sections and weave them together to form something I could listen to as a new song. As a result, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my work and it’s great to see other people are, too.

What software/hardware do you use?

I use Audition for sampling, FLStudio for sequencing and Vegas for video editing.

What inspires you to create these works? Do you start with visuals in mind, or a musical idea or certain songs or passages in a movie, or even a small snipit from a specific scene?

I’m inspired by what I see and hear. That’s the essence of what I do – finding the goosebumps factor of a song or scene and projecting it as though it were light through a prism.

You have done a number of works based on older Disney movies, any special attachment to them or reason you find them compelling enough to use for material?

Disney’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’ always enraptured me in a way no other film did. Its atmospheres were so mysterious and open – I like to think that it compelled me to operate on it just as it drew Alice herself into the rabbit hole.

Do you use any pitch correction, or do you use the natural melodic sounds of human speech, such as Steve Reich has done in some of his works. Do you build a piece from the melodies in the excerpts or do you mold the excerpts to fit the melody you have in mind? Speaking of Steve Reich, I couldn’t help noticing in ‘Expialidocious’, your transition sound at around 1:23 sounds very similar to Steve Reich’s piece “Different Trains”, which used recording of normal speech as musical material. A coincidence perhaps?

I very rarely use any pitch correction. There have been some cases where I’ve loved the sound of a voice but the pitch was off in certain parts, but most of the syllables I use are very short and thus tend to have little room for any flaws.

Sometimes I’ll have a melody in mind, but most of the time it’s a matter of piecing together what I’ve found in a way that pleases me. That’s what can make this kind of work so exciting. Often I’ll start with the backing chords, in which case the additional samples I use on top of that are limited by the chords underneath them. However, this can actually serve as a guide to creating a melody so it can be quite helpful.

I haven’t heard of Steve Reich. A coincidence to be sure.

Your works are compelling visually as well as musically. Do you create the music first and adapt the video, or do you have something specific in mind as you create both?

The music is always my top priority. I always work hard on my tracks before even considering producing videos for them. I don’t see why I should bother producing a video if the track is less than satisfactory, rather like I don’t see why one should invest in big special effects if one’s script is sub-par. This reasoning combined with my love for music has always had my videos at the bottom of my to-do list.

How much musical material do you typically take from the source material itself? In other words, as a whole, how many of the instruments/sounds are sampled from the source work or from other sources?

Besides samples recorded from the source, my tracks are otherwise composed of nothing but custom percussion and a bass line. There are exceptions of course, like ‘Mary’s Magic’ which is composed entirely of sounds from ‘The Secret Garden’ and nothing else.

How long does it typically take to create these works? I imagine it can be very time consuming to find samples that fit and then to fit those samples within the entire work. Do these works go through many transformations as you create them, adding and taking away material as it evolves?

Tracks have taken me everything from a few days to a few weeks to complete. It depends largely on how often I’m in the zone. I typically begin piecing together the pinnacle of the track, followed by variations and careful sequencing to form a structure. I’ve often began work on several tracks for a film at once and have ended up merging them together to form a complete track. It’s all about listening to what I have so far and paying close attention to my reactions as a listener.

Finally, what can we expect from you in the future?

Rest assured tracks are always in the pipeline, and playing live is double-underlined on my to-do list. Stay tuned, and many thanks for everybody’s amazing support! =)

ben @ July 3, 2009

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