Feature Client: Samuel Abram

Ryan Brodhead on May 5, 2011



This week's interview comes from Samuel Abram a.k.a Iron Curtain.

1.) When did you first start writing music?

There were songs that were in my head throughout my whole life. If you mean when I seriously got into writing music and started professionally -- that started around the summer of 2010. So I'm pretty new at this.

2.) What styles of music do you primarily like to work with?

The music I do is known as "Chiptunes" or "Chip Music". It's basically new music composed on old video game systems and computers such as the NES, Game Boy, Atari 2600, Commodore 64, etc. This is usually done by hacking the computer and installing unlicensed, third-party music-producing software on it, but once in a while, commercially-made software is available for modern video game systems, such as the KORG DS-10 and the KORG DS-10 Plus, both for the Nintendo DS.

3.) Which artists have influenced your songwriting most?

It depends on what I'm writing. The stuff on my first album Saturday Thirst was mostly inspired and influenced by the music in video games I made when I was growing up, but the music I'm making now is rooted in some of my chip music contemporaries: Starscream, Sabrepulse, and Anamanaguchi. I'm working on a new track that is heavily influenced from Brian Eno's and Robert Fripp's  "soundscapes".

4.) For you, how important is it that you control all of the rights to your music?

I license all the music I make with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported license. That basically means that anyone can legally share and remix my music, as long as it is done for noncommercial purposes and all credit for any shared files or orphan works is given to me. First of all, I believe file sharing can't be stopped, no matter how many laws there are on the books against it. The very nature of computers is to replicate files, so it would be hard to stop it save for the consciences of honest people. Besides, File sharing doesn't bother me. Based on the experience of other people in my position, it has increased the name of the artist/musician in question and also his/her bottom line (because in some instances, the music is shared to people in countries that otherwise would not have it, and when given a chance, do in fact want to support the artist). Also, I had waived my right over derivative works, because like with sharing, this also increases my name and incentivizes people to seek out the maker of the original work and maybe even support him/her.

However, I was never willing to give up any commercial aspect of my copyright, because that way I could not get paid for my work (by joining an organization like Songtrust). Since I want legal control over my commercial rights should an opportunity come my way, I kept that right so others won't be able to profit off of my work without my say-so or without paying me royalties.

5.) What musical goals do you have for the future?

In the long term, I hope I have enough money to live off of this, but in the short term, I hope that I get my name out there and there are people who appreciate what I do.

To listen to some of Iron Curtain's music, check out their Bandcamp site!

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