Audio-visual collagist/sample plunderer People Like Us (a.k.a. Vicki Bennett) tells us about her favorite types of sound sources
1. Perfect partners
Perfect partners are two sources that, for some reason, play perfectly next to one another without doing much at all to them. For instance, "Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps" by Doris Day mixed with "Stand By Your Man" by Tammy Wynette, or "The End" by The Doors (in this case from Apocalypse Now) with "The Sound of Music" sung by Julie Andrews. It always feels very magical when these tunes or singers decide to collaborate, and I feel just like the person who opened the virtual stage door to let them in and bear witness.
2. Whistling, humming, and voice music
It can be difficult to work with sources that are too dense, because there is less room for transformation or collaboration with other sounds. However, it is very effective to choose intros, endings, solos and vocal parts. A single breath, one note, a hum, or a collective whistle are sometimes all you need. Here are some examples that contain these elements:
Ennio Morricone "Giù la Testa"
Alice in Wonderland"I'm Late"
Les Voix Du Monde Une Anthologie des Expressions Vocales
Burt Bacharach "Do You Know The Way To San José"
Indonesia, South Pacific Music, from the Nonesuch Explorer Series "Lullaby"
João Gilberto "Ela É Carioca"
People Like Us "Whistle Song"
3. Happy Music
I like happy and lively music because it sometimes sounds demented or even makes me feel a little depressed, which in turn makes me smile. Really, I just like sample sources that can be made into what they are not—or what they are hinting at, if you listen with a sense of humour.
Danny Kaye "Wonderful Copenhagen"
Enoch Light "Fascinating Rhythm"
Klaus Wunderlich "Tie a Yellow Ribbon"
Queen "Don't Stop Me Now"
Elmer Bernstein "The Great Escape"
People Like Us "DrivingFlyingRisingFalling"
People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz "Blue Moon"
4. Honking, donging and doofing
Whether it be the sound of a euphonium or the blow of a horn, it is the incongruous sounds within music and field recordings that can shift and elevate other sound sources to different places in one's mind.
Indonesia, South Pacific Music, from the Nonesuch Explorer Series "Lagu Kodok (Frog Song)"
Anthology of World Music: The Music of Laos"On the Mekong (long khong)"
People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz "Social Dance Song"
5. Old friends
These are the tunes that I have been referencing for years across many compositions. I believe that much like a book with many chapters or stories, the same characters are always most welcome when they turn up unexpectedly. Some sources that have reoccurred over the past 20 years of People Like Us include:
Elton John piano parts
Dolly Parton: too many to mention here
Bert Kaempfert "Strangers in the Night" and "Dancing in the Dark"
Heino "Bier Bier Bier"
Petula Clark "Downtown"
Lenny Dee "Gravy Waltz"
Rod McKuen: too many spoken-word parts to list
The Swingle Singers "Largo"
The Carpenters "Close To You"
People Like Us' Welcome Abroad is out now on Illegal Art.