Luke Rowell, the man behind Disasteradio. Five albums released between 2002 and 2005 are licensed as Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike and can be downloaded from his website or the Internet Archives.

Tell us a bit about what you do. I’m an independent musician making synthesizer dance/pop music with a fun, referential edge. I ‘grew up’ as a musician in the late 90s via the Internet – by finding out about new music, getting involved in free audio software and educating myself musically and technically through articles and forums. Playing live – I’ve done over a dozen tours, taking in New Zealand, Australia, USA and central/eastern Europe.

My attraction to Creative Commons definitely stems from my early releasing of CD-Rs on New Zealand punk zine distros, and the ethos of the punk/hardcore movement from my teens.

How important is the concept of ‘remix’ to your work? While there is a lot of things to be learned from the open intellectual property movement, I think that a lot of the community are falsely holding up remixing as a way of increasing quality. The idea of open source works very, very well for software, but I believe the ‘killer app’ for Creative Commons is still to come. There are new and exciting implications of the freedoms Creative Commons proposes that we probably haven’t even begun to think about. Music today still very much exists in the old, record-industry paradigm, but I believe this is slowly eroding – which leads us to think ‘what concept of intellectual property is the child of 2010 going to have in their twenties’?

One specific thing I do believe Creative Commons is good for is as a vehicle to allow freedom of sampling, which is indispensable for electronic musicians. While my work is mostly synthesizer-based I believe I have a responsibility to allow my peers to sample my work – I’d feel guilty if I wasn’t ‘putting something in the pot’ so to speak.

What motivated you to select a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike in particular? While I believe in the freedom of derivative works that Creative Commons provides is totally awesome, I do believe that Attribution needs to be given to the artists involved. I think that my belief in ‘my music being good’ dictates a noncommercial license for derivatives. If I was making a work that was really based around someone’s previous work, it does seem unfair to then go and make money off of it without paying my dues, and Noncommercial has the ability to negotiate this. With Share Alike I’m able to dictate what I deem is the ‘best fit’ way for people to acquire works.

In what ways could you imagine others reusing and remixing your work? I’d love to hear my stuff sampled in a hip-hop track – of course I love it myself, but the stuff I do as Disasteradio is just about the ‘opposite of hip-hop’. I’d also love to see someone do a generative beat-slicing project out of Creative Commons stuff, like a cool sampler program that would make new tunes automatically.

Have you drawn on other people’s creations in your own material? Aside from a couple of remixes I’ve done as part of competitions, I don’t do much sampling or remixing regularly. What I do draw on is a huge amount of influence from the history of music, video games and films. I’m such a sucker for pastiche and the obscure reference. No artist ever works in a vacuum, and I think there needs to be a way for the more concrete influences to be protected from absurd copyright – Creative Commons is perfect for that.

Are there any New Zealand or international artists and performers who have influenced your support for the free culture movement? I do really admire the work of Negativland and Girl talk – and also I think what Rick Prelinger set up with the ephemeral archives on is a real Internet and public domain treasure.

Future plans/shows coming up? I’m on a big break from live shows until I put out my 8th album in mid-2010 and then doing some more touring around the world!


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