Everything is a Remix? That’s What Kirby Ferguson Says

Say up jumped the boogie to the rhythm of the boogity beat, the Sugarhill Gang raps, but that’s not their beat that they’re rapping to. The newest project from Goodie Bag’s Kirby Ferguson, Everything is a Remix, manages in seven minutes to show how ingrained sampling and remixing are in the music industry, using as its primary examples the enduring baseline from Chic’s Good Times and some of Led Zeppelin’s greatest hits.

While some of the Led Zeppelin tracks Ferguson picks out are dangerously close to plagiarism on the part of the band, Everything is a Remix takes a positive spin on that sort of lifting. Putting the act of remixing as “folk art for the modern age” proves to be an intriguing way of looking at the role mash-ups and remixes now play in our culture.

Unlike past Goodie Bag installments, Ferguson himself doesn’t appear on screen except at the very end, instead narrating over still photos and video, but the packaging is slick and well-produced. I especially liked the subtle animation effect when showing the progression of various samples from the 1970s to today.

Everything is a Remix also gets mucho points for its presentation thanks to the accompanying website, which doesn’t just offer extensive notes and corrections about the first episode, but includes other relevant material (like a much longer documentary on the same topic by another set of creators) and commentary by other people. The result is the sense of a real discussion happening around this topic, one that’s becoming increasingly important to the average consumer.

Ferguson, via email, says that the next installment of Everything is a Remix will be out in early December, the delay occurring because “they just take forever to research and produce.” Based on teaser images from part one, part two looks likely to tackle the work of Quentin Tarantino, the patron saint of pastiche. That? That’ll be fun.

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