Last year, a vividly imagined musical collage composed primarily of sounds from the classic Disney adaptation of Alice In Wonderland became a considerable YouTube sensation. The song is known simply as “Alice”, and features a similarly spliced and equally entrancing visual supplement. Since its original posting in July of 2007, the video has garnered more than 2 million views on YouTube alone.
Its creator, a now 20 year old editing wiz known simply as Pogo, has quietly composed songs since he was a child. Thanks to user content friendly social networking websites such as YouTube and last.fm, he has found an outlet for free distribution of his work.
Pogo was kind enough to take a moment to answer some questions for me earlier this month. He was a great interview – thoughtful and concise, and admirable in his strict “no profit” approach to art distribution.
For the record, can we get your full name?
As far as my music goes, I choose to be known only as Pogo. Please respect my wishes and I promise we’ll stay on good terms. =)
Also (and I promise we’ll move on to the good stuff after this) when were you born?
I was born on the 26th of July in 1988. I guess that makes me a Leo, whatever that really means.
What equipment/software do you use to compose and record your music? (please be as specific as you would like)
I get asked that so many times that I hear it in my sleep. Adobe Audition serves me well on my hunts for sounds, and FLStudio has never failed me in sequencing them quickly and efficiently.
How long have you been making music?
I’ve had a fascination with music for as long as I can remember. When I was two, the folks bought me a desktop tape recorder. I’d listen to tapes for hours every day. When I was twelve, I became obsessed with the Playstation game ‘Music 2000′. I’d spend most of my free time in front of the television composing tracks that I’d record to cassette tape and listen to at my own leisure. Music production has been a hobby that I’ve held tight ever since.
Do you have any other aliases other than Pogo? If so, is there any noticeable difference in overall sound?
When I was twelve, I used to call myself K-Trax. Does that count? I like to think that I’m less corny than that these days!
In addition to your electronic compositions, you have made rather successful video projects, particularly those with an editing style much like your audio work. From what I can tell, all of these undertakings are distributed for free via social networking websites such as last.fm and youtube.com. Are you making any sort of profit from the content you are creating? If not, would you ever want to?
To profit has never been on my list of things to do with my work. I’m sure there’s plenty of potential sitting there, but I find it far more thrilling to release something that people listen to and find exciting, relaxing or mystifying. I think it’s an exhilarating way to share an emotion with other people, but at the same time, I think it’s critical that you’re able to love your own work first. You are your most important listener.
When did you first notice people were tuning into your music?
Because I’ve never promoted my tracks beyond the point of merely uploading them, I was alarmed to comprehend the crowd that ‘Alice’ had drawn. People had featured it on their websites, posted it on their blogs, and the feedback I was getting was overwhelmingly positive. According to many viewers, the video is even better when you’re high on mushrooms – an experience I’m yet to visit myself.
Your remixes tend to borrow from very wide-eyed classic films (The King & I, Alice In Wonderland, The Sword and the Stone) -how is it that you are able to isolate the sounds you are hearing to eventually add to a 3 minute piece of music? Is there anything specific you are listening for?
Most of the time, it’s simply a case of finding chords, syllables or passages that I like the sound of on a musical level. There’s really no formula to it. Because I only work with what I find, very rarely do I have something in mind before scanning for sounds. That’s what makes producing this kind of music exciting.
What is your all time favorite album?
There’s just far too much good music out there. I could never decide.
All time favorite film(s)?
Children Of Men, Rabbit Proof Fence, One Hour Photo, Cube, Russian Ark, Flight Of The Navigator, A.I: Artificial Intelligence. I should stop myself there.
You are a part of a growing breed of musical artists who appear to be thriving independently. Many musicians seem to be moving further away from record label involvement. How do you feel about the ways in which we access music today? Who benefits and who does not?
Some might think it’s sad that people are downloading music for free instead of supporting the artists they like, but on the other hand, I think it’d be equally as sad for those artists to produce their music solely for the money. I think music is one of the most efficient ways of communicating ideas and emotions with a large group of people, and in this age where faces are being replaced with computer screens, I think a decline of that communication would be a sad thing as well. If my tracks are on people’s players out there making them happier, I don’t think I could ever feel more fulfilled as an artist.
Can we expect any new projects soon?
I’ve always got new tracks in the works. Stay tuned!
This interview was conducted via email on April 5, 2009. Free Downloads of Pogo’s music are available at http://www.last.fm/music/Pogo
By Spencer Hensel