Little Smartphone Spiedkiks Interview

Introduction

Chris “Kik” Stark and Andy “Spied” Möller are SPIEDKIKS.  They hail from Cologne and Stuttgart, Germany.  They started working together in 2009, producing remixes for several labels.  however, they didn’t meet in person for over a year.

I first became aware of SPIEDKIKS last year with the release of “Take Off Your Makeup” on Rec72.  I loved everything about the release, except for the last track.  After publishing my review, Chris “Kik” Stark contacted me and explained that the last track was an homage to The Beastie Boys.  I felt a little stupid — it made perfect sense.  My only defense was I hadn’t listened to The Beastie Boys for several (10 or more) years.

Since the release of “Take Off Your Makeup” they have been quite busy:

And quite a few other things, several of which are mentioned in the interview, so let’s get on with it…

If you are an artist releasing music under a Creative Commons license, or a netlabel that releases music under a Creative Commons license and would like to be interviewed send me a message via my Contact Form.  Please include a link to your website, release pages, and whatever other information you think is appropriate and I will respond.

The Interview

Part One: The Band and The Music

Introduce Yourself

I am Kik, one half of SPIEDKIKS, a musician producer duo from Germany. The other half is called Spied. So we just put our nicknames together and here we go, SPIEDKIKS (btw pronounced like “speedkicks”). We met in 2009 at myspace during a remix contest.

We’ve recorded five albums so far, and since 2013 we found out that we sound much better with a lot of guest musicians and friends from all over the world playing e.g. violins, trombones or Chapman-Stick on our songs.

What inspires you?

Well, I really don´t know. Everything I guess, music, art, travelling, friends, people. The title of the new album “Little Smartphone People”, pretty simple, was inspired by going on a subway through the city in-between billions of sweating people and it was just me who wasn´t looking on a Smartphone.

Ok, there was another guy who was trying to push his oversize girlfriend through the masses. She said, “Hey where should I sit?” And he answered, “Well I recommend on your butt.” (Little Smartphone People, living in a liquid crystal world la la la la la…)

What are you working on now?

After the release of “Little Smartphone People” in March this year (a 16 track album) we felt pretty exhausted and couldn´t listen to any sound in the world. We made a break for a couple of weeks or so. But right now we are working on a kind of vintage drums break-dance violin trumpet bpm 125 song, a special Spiedkiks edit of our track “Mos Eisley Cantina” to be hopefully released on a great compilation in September.

Little Smartphone Spiedkiks Interview

Spiedkiks Studio

Besides that we recorded in July in our studio (see picture) in Cologne some new ideas. Spied and me shouting into Microphones Doooooooooooooo iiiit aaaaaagggaaaiiiinnnnn. Everybody who passed by (on the way to the toilet) was asked to shout with us. Sweat and beer dropped on turntables while I forgot to tune the guitar. So far we have three new songs and we are working right now on a new EP. After five full albums our first EP. But don´t tell anybody, still a secret. 🙂 Until now it sounds like the “Spiedkiks Live B-Side Sessions”. Four or five tracks? What do you think? [Ed: I can’t wait! :)]

Have you considered crowd-sourcing to fund your recording projects?

Well, not yet and I don´t think we will do that. Crowd-sourcing is of course interesting but I am afraid we won´t get that much money to fund our recordings. I guess I would use the money for a “No Greatest Hits” on Vinyl, really not a good idea 🙂 We have to think about it, maybe we should try it one day…

Part Two: Creative Commons Questions

Why release under a Creative Commons license? When did you start?

We started releasing Creative Commons music in May 2013 with our debut album on REC72. Well, to be honest, the first reason for us to release our music under a Creative Commons License was we just wanted to be heard.

It is just great for us if there are people out there who like it, listen to it and use it in videos or whatever. There are billions of bands out there, hundreds or thousands of new releases every day, and it is very hard to sell music.

We just reached 50,000 downloads this week at FMA [Ed: Free Music Archive] with the album “Take Off Your make Up”. That is just amazing!! There are of course more reasons for us to release under Creative Commons but let´s just say, the whole idea is just great.

Do you release all your work under a CC license & do you earn money with it?

Yes, since 2013, we release and share all our music for free under a Creative Commons license (Attribution – Share Alike (BY-SA)). We are not earning money with our music, except if people support us via BandCamp (Pay what you like) or donations via our homepage.

Have you had any negative experiences with a release because it was CC licensed?

First of all there are a lot of really nice things that happened so far, but negative: yes, last year.

Of course using a Creative Commons license means that we cannot control everything that other people maybe do with our music. So I found out by luck last year that someone downloaded our Album “Take Off Your Make Up” (CC BY-SA) from FMA and sent it to a big online distributor under his (not existing) label and sold it worldwide under copyright on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, everywhere. We weren’t asked, we knew nothing.

That was of course really annoying, no, much more than that! We received a lot of emails from fans who couldn’t use our music on their videos e.g. YouTube because they were immediately indicted for copyright infringement although we released it of course under CC BY-SA. It is a long story.

There were many emails, meetings and lawyers included. Try to contact online platforms who are selling music, the “big ones”, to clear the situation, to take down your music. Almost no chance. That takes a while. Shit happens.

Did you have to hire a lawyer to represent you? Did you contact Creative Commons Germany?

No, we didn’t hire a lawyer. But we have had many personal contacts to lawyers specialized in copyright law and explained the whole situation to them to get an idea of what to do. The label helped a lot as well, there were meetings and yes, we finally did contact Creative Commons Germany via email for a reference. There were many emails, the whole case was of course illegal and we ended up with the question do you want to sue “the one” for damage. But we didn’t, so far.

BTW – there were videos out there where people used our music with more than 100,000 plays where it says you can buy the track. We contacted (after finding out who) the seller/distributor in the US, and they answered: “We did not sell even one copy?!?” Case closed! Unbelievable. But what can you do? Others answered: “Oh, sorry we have so many releases every day, we cannot control every release, that can happen.” Oooohhhkaaayyy?!?!

The result after months, our music was taken down from all platforms who sold it under a different label and under copyright.

Part Three: Upcoming Projects, Events, etc. To Promote

Of course we would still love to promote our last album released in March this year. Not too long ago. “Little Smartphone People” including 16 new tracks, many great guest musicians and free download of course.

Apart from that there´s not much right now to mention or to promote.

We are back in the studio, we will be hopefully on a release in September, and we are thinking about how to do our stuff live on stage. But at the moment next for us is just recording drums, violins and trombones, putting many recent ideas into songs, finding and contacting great people who would like to collaborate and just enjoy music.

In Closing

So, Chris and Andy have a lot of things going on: a new version of a track for a compilation, a new EP, figuring out how to perform live, and I’d bet a few more things.  It’s disappointing to hear the issue they encountered with copyright infringement of “Take Off Your Makeup”, but at least (it sounds like) they were able to get it straightened out (somewhat).  Personally, I can’t wait to hear the new releases.  Maybe I won’t screw up a review of that one. 🙂

If you are an artist releasing music under a Creative Commons license, or a netlabel that releases music under a Creative Commons license and would like to be interviewed send me a message via my Contact Form.  Please include a link to your website, release pages, and any other information you think is appropriate and I will respond.

And a little bonus…the video of “Watch Your Behavior”

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Posted by George De Bruin

2 Comments

  1. Once again,
    thanks so much for this interview
    and ur support!!!
    It was great fun!
    Best
    Spiedkiks

    1. Thank you for being part of this whole thing. It’s been fun doing it, and I hope it will bring some good exposure to the work you guys are putting out.

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