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Recent news items about Justin Bieber’s arrest in Miami (where he was charged in January with DUI and with drag racing) and about his subsequent mugshot, as well as earlier reports – to which I had access, like millions of others, via Twitter – of him vomiting milk during a performance and of him collapsing on stage at a concert in London, seem to offer opportunities to interrogate the collision of the body and image, of self and celebrity, and of lyric and media. And to get a little wordy. I have ended up producing two texts, which I’m calling “Alias Fonds.” The headline for the report on Justin Bieber collapsing in London, when it appeared on a Twitter feed, read like a phase-shifted snippet from a Frank O’Hara poem, which set the composition of the first part in motion. I also overheard a conversation in a coffee shop at the time between two people I took for graduate students in actuarial science. The second part draws on the lyrics of a typical Justin Bieber song, mashed up with Dylan Thomas, W. H. Auden, some high school chemistry, and media reports on the arrest. There’s a lot of bent replication. The texts of the poems can be read here.
Justin Bieber started out with homemade videos on YouTube. I’m no Bieber, of course, but the homemade audio is meant to gesture at these origins. There is only natural reverb, for instance, on the voice: no effects. I play the instruments – a baritone ukulele and a student-model Yamaha trumpet – and I programmed and sequenced the drum machine (a DM-1 cloned on an iPad) partly to reflect the 5-on-4 metre of the first section. (The second section shifts the rhythm a little, but it’s still there, ghostly-like.) I intend the trumpet loops to be an homage to Bill Dixon. The two poems were written in the space of about eight months. The recordings happened from October 2013 to March 2014. So there you go.