It all started with an idea for a mix CD in early 2005. Over the years, I had picked up a few CD compilations of 60’s and early 70’s music from India, Asia and Turkey, as well as some discs by Ananda Shankar and Takeshi Terauchi. Also, Sublime Frequencies had just begun releasing their "radio collages” discs from the Middle East, India and Asia.
At about this same time, a friend of mine send me a link to a website of maps. Yes, maps. I still don't know what he was all excited about, but I was bored at work and thought I'd check it out. It was while looking at a map of the Eastern Hemishpere that it hit me: I wanted to learn more about the evolution of rock and roll in the non-western cultures of Africa, the Middle East, India
and Asia work that into my mix disc project.
I knew some stuff about this kind of music, but there was a lot I didn’t know. Luckily, I usually have a few hours to kill at work every day. As I did more and more research, I started finding information about all kinds of interesting music from all over.
A bunch of the people who had websites about this type of stuff were also interested in trading CD-R’s, and within a few months my little mix disc turned into a five CD box set. Since I didn’t want to make an elaborate booklet to go in each box set, I decided to make a website with all of the information about the songs and their origins using the free web space I get with my e-mail account.
I finished putting together all the box sets, and mailed them out to my friends. But I quickly got bored again. I started working on another compilation of film music, but that didn’t get very far. So I went back to the stuff from Africa, the Middle East, India and Asia. This time, I decided I was only going to use original vinyl recordings that were unavailable anywhere else, and maybe mass-produce them or something. I had no idea what I was doing.
This is where things took a turn South.
The only sources for these types of records are record dealers and eBay. Records from Asia are easier to get, but as you start moving into India, the Middle East and especially Africa, the price of the records goes from astronomical to down right insane. I once saw a Mulatu Astatke single from Ethiopia go for $787.77!!! A single! Two songs! And one song was already available on CD! Crazy.
Regardless, I continued my quest and began tracking down records from sellers all over the world. A lot of my mail now arrives with a big sticker saying: "This package was opened and inspected by U.S. Customs Officials.” Great. I’m sure my name is now on some government list somewhere. But now I am on a first name basis with people in Turkey, and I can tell you what time it is in Singapore. Record dealers e-mail me before they list their records on eBay - even people I have never dealt with before. Scary.
In October 2005, I started posting songs on my website. Kind of a "looky-what-I-got-here" sort of thing. I uploaded one or two new songs every Sunday. The response was really positive, and I was even able to inadvertently make contact with a few of the people who put out some of the compilations that helped start this insanity in the first place.
Then I decided to focus primarily on the website. That went well until I posted two songs by The Telstar Combo from Taiwan. By that time enough people were checking out the site that I got listed on Boing Boing. Next thing I know, I get an e-mail from my ISP that I’ve exceeded my bandwidth for the month - and it was only the 8th. I had been considering getting my own domain, but I didn’t really have any other options at that point.
So as of February 12, 2006, I’ve been hammering away at this. I use the awful template that my new ISP provided, and keep it to a bare minimum due to the cost of the web space and bandwidth. I always intended to get some kind of web software to make this look all cool and whatnot, but I never got around to it. It probably would have looked really stupid and made your computer lock up whenever you tried to open a page anyway, so what you see is what you get.
Originally, the songs and their corresponding posts were
only to be posted for one week... I had never intended for anything long term.
Who cared about this stuff? Well, apparently there were more than a few people
who did. So after much pestering and prodding, I decided to reposted all of the
previous songs and their posts at
the Radiodiffusion Internasionaal Annexe.
Like I’ve said before, I've never really had a plan when I started this. Still have no clue what I am doing... I've even had friends try to talk me out it. But April 2008 saw the release of the Bollywood Steel Guitar compilation that I assembled for Sublime Frequencies, which happened practically by accident. Then in 2011, Pakistan ⋆ Folk and Pop Instrumentals 1966 - 1976 was released. Will there be more projects? Who knows?