You might not know who Geoff Gamlen, Jonny Wilson, or Ian Edgar is, but if you caught that viral Stephen Colbert remix (and the re-remix, as seen above), you know their work. As video DJs, they form Eclectic Method.
In the times BC (Before Colbert), they started out as relatively underground…as underground as you can get working for other artists like U2 and Fatboy Slim. Tomorrow, they provide the post-screening entertainment for San Francisco Film Society’s film and club night. Though Eclectic Method were no strangers to performing across the globe, Colbert’s subsequent remix of their remix was a defining moment in a conversation about copyright and remixing.
The original footage came from an interview with Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig, who not only stands at the forefront of the copyright debate but also appears in tomorrow’s film, RiP: A Remix Manifesto.
“Colbert is a TV personality,” Wilson told the Appeal, “he’s super smart about the internet and social media. He already gets it…Colbert was saying something on the show that was almost already meant for us and people like us. He was saying, ‘Don’t remix this!’ He gave us all the sound bytes that were perfect for it…He was obviously hoping somebody would do that.”
Gamlen explained that their dialogue with the TV show host created a big bump in the blogosphere. Now, it’s their claim to fame. Fans and people who hire Eclectic Method (whom Colbert called “DJ Jazzy Jerks”) often refer to that specific remix. “We should get ourselves–just ourselves–T-shirts that say ‘DJ Jazzy Jerks,’” Gamlen joked.
But remixers and mash-up artists and groups like Eclectic Method fall into a gray area of copyright laws. Are they paying for the audio and video they use? Are they authorized to redistribute it? Earn a profit? So far, the group hasn’t even received a cease-and-desist. They saw three or four YouTube takedowns, but that’s just all in the business of being A/V punks.
So you shake up the system. Reinvent, RiP says. And that’s what the trio does, transforming classics like Fraggle Rock into a dance music experience. But the future is uncertain as technology and the ability to share and create race past the law.
“Where’s the new model of business for what we do?” Edgar asked. “We’re totally writing the rules of this particular game we’re playing. When will the world be ready?”
You can see my interview with Brett Gaylor, director of RiP: A Remix Manifesto, here
What: A melange featuring the documentary RiP: A Remix Manifesto and VJs Eclectic Method
When: Thursday, July 23 at 7 p.m.
Where: Mezzanine (444 Jessie Street at Mint)
Cost: $12 for SFFS year-round members, $17 for the general public
You must be 21+ to enter.