Dotcom's pop protest gets its first airing

By Russell Baillie, David Fisher

The man accused of ripping off recording artists has now become one himself with the release of his first single.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom last night debuted Mr President, the first track recorded on bail awaiting an extradition hearing on charges of copyright violation which may result in him being sent for trial in the United States.

The song is an electronica protest against the charges which relate to his filesharing Megaupload website.

It played on TV3's Campbell Live after an interview about the case with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who became a supporter of Dotcom after meeting him on a visit to New Zealand in May.

Megaupload carried 4 per cent of the world's internet traffic. Now it stands accused of unlawfully depriving recording artists and movie studios of $500 million in copyright.

When the website was shut down, Dotcom was already recording with friend and producer Printz Board after the pair met in Paris. Dotcom invited Printz to dinner to talk about being one of the producers on the album he wanted to make.

They hit it off. Printz said he wanted to be the only producer and Dotcom agreed. "This is my boy right here," said Printz, the Black Eyed Peas' musical director who has also worked with Macy Gray, Busta Rhymes and Katy Perry.

For the aspiring artist, who had no musical experience, it was his move into an area where he had already forged links. Hip-hop star Swizz Beatz, also a friend, had recruited a range of stars for a promotional Megaupload song and video. They were also working on a new music platform intended to give artists greater control.

After 18 months of work, Printz and Dotcom have more than 20 songs recorded. Much of the work has been done at Neil Finn's Roundhead Studios in Newton with Neil Baldock, the in-house engineer.

When Dotcom was jailed and then put under house arrest, Printz continued the work with Mario "Tex" James and Sleep Deez from his Los Beets & Produce production company in Los Angeles.

Dotcom recorded at home in Coatesville, north of Auckland, until his bail conditions were relaxed. The occasional trip to the studio had to be recorded in photographs taken on his iPhone and sent to a bail officer.

Printz said Dotcom was a determined perfectionist, smart and "really talented". "He's considering music as being his new career," said Printz. "He can always do the computer stuff as well."

Printz went from working on the Yes We Can song for President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign to making music with Dotcom, who blames the US leader for colluding with Hollywood to orchestrate his arrest.

The Mr President track is a more serious offering than Amnesia, which mocks Act MP John Banks' inability to remember a $50,000 donation from Dotcom. Still, Dotcom said it wasn't for everyone. "It is political."

The album is still waiting on music videos to be made for many of the tracks before release. Tracks include Welcome to the Good Life, which features the lyric "Sleep all day/party all night/do what you want, whenever you like", and Precious, written for his five children.


Catchy but quite awful

There's no denying Kim Dotcom's Mr President is catchy. It's catchy in a way that the Black Eyed Peas I Gotta Feeling was catchy. So much so that Mr President may well have been Feeling in a former life.

True, Feeling - the party-song-of-2009/10 - wasn't a track from Dotcom's BEP-connected producer Printz Board. But instrumentally, the similarities are blatant - the restrained start, the tempo, the simple chord pattern, the shimmering synthesisers and the lone kick drum.

Vocally and lyrically? Not so much. After all, this is Dotcom protesting to Barack Obama which he does in the singing voice of a much thinner shyer man. While he's vocally weedy he's, er, bold with his words - "I have a dream, like Doctor King," he sings. Yes, that line is especially disconcerting when done in a German accent and autotune.

So too is the Dotcom robotic female backing singers who entreat us: "Let's get together, let's all unite or they will do whatever they like."

Yes it's catchy, care of the musical deja vu it invokes. But as a piece of pop it's grindingly earnest and quite awful. On the evidence of this, the forthcoming Dotcom album should do wonders for helping stamp out musical piracy.

- NZ Herald

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