John Oswald

John Oswald is a Canadian born musician who has spent most of his career on the cutting edge of illegal art. He is the originator of the word plunderphonics which is both a meme and an artistic collective that represents illegal art. He is also arguably the father of micro-sampling; an art form that has spawned several new genres of music such as glitch, glitch-hop, and glitch-pop. Although he has been mastering this art form since the late 1960’s, his ground breaking claim to fame was a twenty minute album released in 1993 under the name “Plexure.”

Plexure set the precedent for Plunderphonics, not only because of the questionably legal way in which he received funding to distribute the album, but because of the questionable legality of the album itself. Oswald received a grant from the Canadian government to produce his art, but used all of the money to simply print the CD copies of the album. Once the CDs were made it became clear that it would be illegal to sell them in any way because they were riddled with unlicensed samples from hundreds of copywritten songs ranging from the early 1980s to the early 1990s. Since there was no legal way to sell Plexure all of the copies were given away at no charge, much to the dismay of the Canadian government.

John Oswald has generated over a dozen albums in his career and still composes music today. Moreover, he still holds true to his vision of Plunderphonic. His ideology can be summed up with one quote: "If creativity is a field, copyright is the fence”.

Broadcasts on ORF KUNSTRADIO:

21. 02. 2010: John Oswald