November 01, 2003

Vicki Bennett - People Like Us
Interview composed by Stu Hood - Nov 2003

As far back as 1992 you've been sampling and releasing countless works, contributions and collaborations. Why still today does it seem that you're unknown or vague in most circles? Do you think perhaps that it's a surge of so many sampling artists coming about that it makes it hard for general people to find a distinguishment that may fit their taste?

I make a living out of what I do, which to me means I'm well known in the area that I focus on. I'm not interested in the general wider concept of "fame" or the paths and methods that people choose to be "known", whatever that is supposed to mean.

I find something that distinguishes your music is the sense of humour. As it can be subtle and sarcastic, do you ever catch an instance where only you are chuckling to yourself while others stand confused?

I definitely have a humourous/surrealistic outlook on the world, but I wouldn't say I'm sarcastic, maybe my humour is dry but there's actually no malicious side to what I do, I'm just playing with preconceptions. So yes, I laugh, but not completely at people, I see it as a homage to the material I utilize and recontextualize.

You have every one of your songs available for download straight from your website, archived streams of performances, archived radio shows, high quality promotional art and even videos. Has the experience of making your own music from archived and borrowed sources persuaded you to do this?

Yes, partly that, I've always thought that distribution was far more important than sales, and one way of getting out there is through the internet, it's the best way there is because you can do it with virtually no middle men messing it all up for you! The publicity leads to my getting gigs and commissions so it pays off indirectly.

What have been your influences over the years, towards both music and humour.

Right across the board from Schlager to Sound Poetry, from pop to avant, it's all the same to me, a source to be picked up and put down at another destination. If I'm to really pigeonhole myself in pop, electronic, rock or classical (ha ha, ridiculous), I'd say it is electronic that I first was into, early 80's electropop stuff and industrial music, like the Some Bizzare label, and from there to post industrial experimental music. Now it's all that plus avant pop and junk culture. So in a nutshell, there isn't something that would fit in a nutshell to my influences except exactly what you said in the question - the surreal and humourous.

Over the years, with the advancement of technology, how has your technique changed much today since when you first began making music?

I've always made collage, and always dreamed of making the total environment, but I couldn't do that until I got multitracking possibilities on a computer, to work with cut and paste technology. Before that I used a sampling keyboard and cassette four track. So technology is very much tied up with my output. Now I'm doing exactly what I want. Before that I was limited. Limitations are vital though, but it's nice to choose them for one's self.

How do you enjoy your live performances? What kind of reactions are most common?

It is very nice to spend times at festivals with friends, and to get to chat with the audience. So the traveling and contact with people is often nice. It can have it's down side, in non-English speaking countries it can be a lonely thing. The reactions depend on the language of the country. If it is English spoken you get laughter most of the time, and in other countries people often are more cagey about laughing, especially Belgium and France for some reason, who knows why.

Be Vicki's guest as she hosts Do or DIY with People Like Us on WFMU every Wednesday from 7 - 8 PM.

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