It was ten years ago today…

…that a small number of you received this email:

hip hopera email invite

(Click image for larger)

Download links here if you need them, now available in Flac too if you want an upgrade!

Well, apart from that email, and a post on the old “Get Your Bootleg On” forum (RIP), which gathered like-minded audio-slicing miscreants, that was it, as far as publicity goes.

In the next 12 months it gathered nigh-on a million downloads and a crapton of on- and off-line recommendations, collapsing my own website in a couple of days (I remember sitting there with my flatmates (hey Dillon & Kev!) watching the bandwidth charges accelerate by the minute before fiscal reality got the better of my ego and I pulled the plug), then being mirrored and promoted by such fine folks as Andy “Waxy” Baio and Jason “Boogah” Cosper (vintage interview on that link from two weeks after release).

And then a whole bunch more folks. And more. And so on until I found myself sat at a front table at the 2005 Webby Awards receiving the award for “Artist Of The Year”. Great fun, (hey, I got to shout “motherfucker” in front of Al Gore *teenage giggle*) but boy, did I feel out of place. With the benefit of hindsight, maybe the Webbys organisers expected the old-school media to be shocked that someone like myself was being publicly honoured for illegally slicing, dicing and re-purposing existing culture?… might generate a bit of shock publicity? but nah… nobody seemed that bothered, thank zod. We’d already moved on. As we do.

Eric Kleptone at The Webby Awards 2005

(Gorgeous, huh? Click for larger. Text of shirt: “Your failed business model is not my problem” – Truer today than ever.)

So… 10 years ago. Seems like centuries. How fast we move… Back then? No Facebook. No Twitter. No YouTube. Some blogs. Some forums. That was about it. Life moves pretty fast, huh?

Downloading a whole album for free? How quaint? Was still quite a novelty then. With the deepest of ironies, as this anniversary rolls around, a free album by one of the biggest bands of all-time has been distributed to allegedly five billion people. A lot of whom don’t seem too happy about it.

But… plus ├ža change. Free music is everywhere now, and you can’t move for it. Everywhere you go people are desperately trying to ram it down your throat. So much so that even the hugest bands have to do it to get heard. You can’t move for the stuff. Awful.

Well, Boo hoo you.

Because today, here, right now, as far as music goes, things are awesome.

Yes, despite the daily hoo-hah of the “new” music industry, of iTunes, Spotify and Pandora, of mega-corps taking advantage of their huge content distribution systems (that you have all signed up for) and automatically generated playlists (that may well favour heavy advertisers, haha), today there is a humongous global musical underground at your fingertips that ten years ago had no chance whatsoever of reaching you. And you probably will really love some of it. It may well even change your life.

The power of a simple tune is greater than ever. But now, more than ever it needs to be discovered. In the same way as folks spent infinite amounts of time digging through piles of dusty records to rescue and repurpose the drum breaks and riffs that now underpin some of your favourite tunes, you, as a listener, have to dig the crates!

This is (still) a really good thing.

Same as it ever was.

So, please, please, dull down the adverts pummelling you from all sides, the clickbait loud-hailers bombarding you from above, push all that stuff into the bin where it belongs, fire up your inquisitive natures, and keep them well stoked. Dig deep, deeper, deepest and often, and you WILL be rewarded. Not just with fine sounds, but with new friends, amazing performances, wonderful communities and an unshakeable knowledge that just by your very participation (and occasional purchase or show attendance, hemhem), you are sustaining and developing a cultural eco-system. One of millions.

(And if you’re think “ahh, I can’t be bothered to do that, clicking through links (ugh), following blogs (zzz), Hey oldster, I don’t have to look for stuff any more, that’s so 20th century”, then fine – enjoy the nutritionless crap you get served up.)

Because it’s true.

And it grows.

“Increment by Increment”.

That’s what we’re rather good at, as a species, on the whole.

We create.

And share.

And grow.

So from me, thank you for downloading, listening, coming to our shows, dancing like a loon, saying hi!, buying me a beer, putting up with me on verbal overdrive, but most of all for being my friends. Even if you’ve never met me, you now know what I’m like, which is an amazing thing.

You’ve blown my mind sky high, restored and energised my faith in music as a culturally-changing force, and I love you for it.

So here’s to the next ten years. I hope this, too, feels like ancient history when I read it back then.

(PS And before you comment, Yes there will be more Kleptones. We’re taking a breather, but it’s evolving. We’re not done yet. Life is a long song, yes?)


Eric K

7 Responses to “It was ten years ago today…”

  1. Sven says:

    I thank you for your work, and next time I see you I’ll buy you a beer. Or more than one ;)

    Last time, you bought them (Mam’s Pride – 2011) :P

    Hope to see you perform again on a stage in the Netherlands, and to hear some new tunes too!


    Sven A (the Queen fan :D)

  2. Mike C says:

    Great news! I’m dying for more Kleptones, be it new albums, or, say, a Kickstarter to finish the Uptime/Downtime video project.

    Do take time to catch your breath, we’ll be here when you’re ready.

    Beers from Canada!

  3. X says:

    Congrats! Excited to hear more…

  4. Div says:

    I got it off waxy a couple of days later so that must be why a sub-routine in my primeval brain prompted me to check your website today after giving up on you updating it years ago.

    Hip Hopera wasn’t a musical revolution, but for me it was the representation of the start of a revolution; it wasn’t televised, it was however a glimpse of the future, an album announced without promotion, for free, it was transferred to all available formats, it was a teacup in a storm, a bottle in a message, it was available at my leisure, it was digitised……..
    ….the revolution was ushered in by people like yourself who could visualize all those 0s and 1s and turn them into something like ‘Stay’, something greater than its composite parts.

    As always the revolution has become the mainstream…. but shit…and I’m being honest here… it was the last album that I got excited about.

    If what you say is true and that was ten years ago then who knows where we’re going to be in ten more, waking up to holograms of Bono busking on my duvet most likely, should have checked the terms and conditions.

  5. tigerous says:

    Great to hear that you guys are making more Kleptones material. I’ll never get tired of listening the old ones, especially Uptime/Downtime, 24hours and Shits & Giggles are just awesome. So thanks and congrats! :)

  6. Peter says:

    A friend turned me onto Hip Hopera years ago and it is one of the albums I’ll listen to regularly. Thanks so much for putting it together and I look forward to more Kleptones.

  7. Darren says:

    Loving your work every day Mr Klepto! Have been since hip hopera and still will be when I am rocking the nursing home.

    I still get heaps of people asking me at my parties for that amazing playlist I put together… I bask in your reflected glory for a short time before I let them in on the secret.

    Happy travels mate!

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