Thursday, August 28, 2008

An appendage to the producer?

The Guardian links to two items written by female artists.

Actually, the first item was one in which a female artist was interviewed. Here's a portion of the Pitchfork interview with Maya Arulpragasam (a/k/a M.I.A.):

Pitchfork: So tell me a bit about Kala. I just heard it for the first time today, and--

M.I.A.: Diplo didn't make it.

Pitchfork: Uh, what?

M.I.A.: He never made Arular, but you guys keep writing it.

Pitchfork: 'He' being Diplo?

M.I.A.: You're not listening to me at all, are you?

Pitchfork: I'm trying. It's a little hard to hear you.

M.I.A.: Forget what I said. [Pauses] What do you think I said?

Pitchfork: I heard you say something to the effect of "he didn't make Arular and he also didn't make this record." I'm wondering who you're referring to, though I could take a wild guess.

M.I.A.: Yesterday I read like five magazines in the airplane-- it was a nine hour flight-- and three out of five magazines said "Diplo: the mastermind behind M.I.A.'s politics!" And I was wondering, does that stem from [Pitchfork]? Because I find it really bonkers.

Pitchfork: Well, it's hard to say where it originated. We certainly have made reference to Diplo playing a part on your records, but it seems like everyone plays that up.

M.I.A.: If you read the credits, he sent me a loop for "Bucky Done Gun", and I made a song in London, and it became "Bucky Done Gun". But that was the only song he was actually involved in on Arular....And I just find it a bit upsetting and kind of insulting that I can't have any ideas on my own because I'm a female or that people from undeveloped countries can't have ideas of their own unless it's backed up by someone who's blond-haired and blue-eyed. After the first time it's cool, the second time it's cool, but after like the third, fourth, fifth time, maybe it's an issue that we need to talk about, maybe that's something important, you know.

Pitchfork: I think it's very important. I talked to Diplo about a month ago and he seemed to think he had a bit to do with both of the these records, and he was also talking about maybe making another one with you. Is that an accurate statement?

M.I.A.: Well, I finished Arular and then I met Diplo, and when I went to make the mixtape [Piracy Funds Terrorism, Vol. 1] I gave him all the tracks, the a cappellas and instrumentals already done. On this album I self-produced most of the album with Switch, and nobody's talking about that. And it's because Switch doesn't really talk it up, or he's not into self-promotion like that. Switch spent a year with me making my record and I'm really surprised how he doesn't really come across as the person that I've relied on most. I don't know, I just wanted to set the record straight and make sure that credit goes to people, where it's due, I guess. Last time I set out in America, I probably saw Diplo once.

And later:

M.I.A.: That's what I'm saying. There is an issue especially with what male journalists write about me and say "this MUST have come from a guy." I can understand that, I can follow that, that's fine. But when female journalists as well put your work and things down to it being all coming from a man, that really fucks me up. It's bullshit. I mean, for me especially, I felt like this is the only thing I have, and if I can stick my neck out and go for the issues and go through my life as it is, the least I can have is my creativity. And I think that's probably the stupidest thing about it. I wish somebody did conjure the spirit out so I can change that, and now I'm going to spit some politics, I was going to be like this... fucking... whatever, the thing that I was, I wish that somebody did conjure it out. But I'm not going to give that credit, whatever my life is and whatever my lifestyle and whatever people in Sri Lanka feel is right, like somebody masterminded it. You know what I mean? I think that's bullshit.

Enter Bjork. Now Bjork has a reputation at times of being a there. But in this post she was fairly direct:

i saw in the last issue of iceland's newspaper in english : “grapevine” , that valgeir sigurðsson was credited for having written all the instrumentals for my album vespertine . could i please offer a correction :

i have noticed last 7 years that mr. sigurðsson has often been credited for either writing or producing that album . i´d like to say that he didn´t write it or produce . he was a computer programmer for a third of it and a recording engineer for a third . The other two thirds were done by other engineers and programmers .

here is the creditlist to show you the correct crediting of vespertine .
i don´t understand where that misunderstanding has come from

Or maybe she does. She lists four optional interpretations of the cause of the error:

1 :the pop critics of this world have not totally yet worked out the difference between engineering , programming , writing and producing electronic music . visually this appears very similar . a man/woman sitting in front of a computer . not as different as for example a drummer , a brass arranger and an engineer . but these are 3 completely different jobs which journalists must start to see the difference

2: it could be that this is some degree of sexism . m.i.a. had to deal with this with the respected website where they assumed that diplo had produced all of her kala album without reading any credit list or nothing , it just had to be , it couldn´t have been m.i.a. herself ! it feel like still today after all these years people cannot imagine that woman can write , arrange or produce electronic music . i have had this experience many many times that the work i do on the computer gets credited to whatever male was in 10 meter radius during the job . people seem to accept that women can sing and play whatever instrument they are seen playing .but they cannot program , arrange , produce , edit or write electronic music .

3 : i´ll admit that one thing could confuse things : people have to use their ears and actually read the creditlist to get this information . all the music i have made : like for example string arrangements , synthbasslines or programming of electronic patterns , i never play myself live because i want to give 100% of myself into the singing i either ask the computers to play it or i get other musicians to play it . this could confuse things .

4: one thing that could have kept this misunderstanding alive is that neither me nor valgeir sigurðsson have bothered to correct it

but i am doing it now

And so am I, I guess.
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