In case you missed it, a week ago, a video by “noir hop” crew Zilla Rocca & the Shadowboxers’ track “Fake Surfers” came to 2011 Stranger Genius award winner the Intelligence’s main songwriter Lars Finberg’s attention after it appeared on Huffington Post. It later turned up on his Facebook page. The track “Fake Surfers” lifts a generous portion of the Intelligence’s “South Bay Surfers” for its musical backdrop, but the band received no credit for it. In my Line Out post on this matter, Finberg said that he and Zilla Rocca were sorting out the situation.
While writing that post, I did a search for Zilla Rocca to get his input, but couldn’t find his contact info. Tuesday he emailed me with his side of the story, which I’m going to share with you here.
Our version of "Fake Surfers" was recorded in early 2011. At the time, my producer Blurry Drones [aka music critic Douglas Martin] sent me the music and said he was friends with the band The Intelligence and that they were cool with us doing our version of the song. I had never heard of the band, nor knew that Blurry Drones just took their song and asked me to rap over it. He thought it was a hot record, as did I, so our song was completed.
Three years later, we gear up to finally release the new Shadowboxers record (the name of our joint projects) No Vacation For Murder. We have no label, no manager, no legal team, nothing. I handle all the writing, mixing, mastering, money, publishing, and promotion on top of working a full-time job and having a regular life outside of music, and since I've been 100% DIY indie my entire life, I've never had to get permission to clear any record because the stakes and the money have always been low. I live in Philly, Blurry Drones lives in Seattle, and we speak sparingly over email. It's pretty much my show to run. So with that in mind, he wouldn't have had the duty to include The Intelligence on any business dealings moving forward beyond a verbal clearance to use their record.
Once the video dropped last week at The Huffington Post and other hip hop sites, I get a joint email from Blurry Drones and Lars stating that they would like their due credit of publishing and promo, which we handled quickly and easily. Future promo of the song will now say "Fake Surfers feat The Intelligence." The video on YouTube now features their name. I'm fighting with my digital distributor now to include them on the iTunes and streaming releases for April 1, and the physicals, when they are pressed up, will also include The Intelligence's name.
I'm taking the time to pass along this information because I would never shortchange another DIY artist whose music I'm using. Doing hip hop, I'm big on sampling, and since I'm not connected to a major label, I'm not going to clear anything that I make unrecognizable. Since "Fake Surfers" is a recognizable song to indie-rock fans, especially in Seattle, I want to show my respect. So the issue has been resolved by all parties. I claim ignorance from the gate to The Intelligence's catalog, and I should've done more work on my end in postproduction to sort all of this out. I don't blame Lars or Blurry Drones because it's not their job to tackle the trivial aspects of publishing, clearances, etc. That falls on me and I failed.
Zilla ultimately did the right thing and it looks like everyone's satisfied with the resolution. ~group hug~