Are there rules when it comes to edits? Should there be? Resident Advisor’s Will Lynch explores all sides of a thorny issue that shows no sign of going away.
A few months ago I had lunch with the guys from Soul Clap, Eli Goldstein and Charlie Levine. We met up at their usual Berlin haunt, The Michelberger Hotel, and ate schnitzels and maultaschen while we talked about something central to their craft: edits, and more specifically, unauthorized edits. In terms of producing as well as DJing, edits are a big part of Soul Clap’s sound, and their rerubs of other artists’ songs have earned them both admiration and criticism. For some, tracks like 2010’s “Extravaganza” are a clever reuse of pop culture that make for great moments on the dance floor. For others, they’re unoriginal at best and examples of plagiarism at worst. In one of RA’s more controversial reviews, Jack Haighton gave voice to the second opinion by saying of “Extravaganza,” “Yes, it’s catchy enough. (It should be. It’s taken from a platinum-selling album only five years old.)”
Like many successful DJs, Goldstein and Levine have an interesting way of being both very serious and very laid back. Talking about edits brings out both sides: they take the subject very seriously, though their stance on it could hardly be more laissez-faire. “Where do people get these rules?” says Goldstein. “Part of what makes this music so amazing is that you really can do whatever you want. It doesn’t make sense when someone comes along and says ‘oh, that’s not allowed.'” As they see it, edits have been around since the days of disco, and what they’re doing isn’t anything new––in fact, it’s one of the most essential building blocks of production. “Think of Ice Cube, ‘Jackin for Beats.’ Or Moby, ‘Go,’ one of the biggest rave anthems ever. You know what that samples? The Twin Peaks theme.”
As for the ethical side of things—the problem of benefiting from someone else’s art—they’re not convinced they’re causing any harm. “For me, when you’re doing vinyl-only, it’s a pass,” says Goldstein. “You press 500 copies, you’re going to lose money. The whole reason you do it is because there’s a demand, you want to give people something they want. You don’t do it to help yourself.”
Levine thinks about this one for a minute. “Well, you could definitely say edits helped our success.”
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