Jul 14, 2017

Sample Monument Lab with Kara Crombie’s Sample Philly

by: Laura Kochman

Monument Lab will take over Philadelphia this fall, but the citywide public art project launches with a special preview event tomorrow, July 15, in Franklin Square. A sound bank of musical loops and samples drawn from Philadelphia’s rich musical history, artist Kara Crombie’s Sample Philly attempts to answer the question at the heart of the project: What is your vision for a monument that represents Philadelphia? We asked Crombie, a media and sound artist, a few additional questions.

What makes Philadelphia a good source to sample from?

The diversity of Philadelphia’s musical history. Seminal music in many genres, including rap, rock, soul, and jazz, has been produced here. And, of course, Philadelphia musicians and producers have made a particularly prolific and distinctive contribution to the history of soul music.

Can you give us a hint about one or two of the samples we’ll hear on July 15?

The goal is to gather it all—the big hits and the unexpected. Everything from Hall & Oates to the Action Six News theme song will hopefully be in the archive.

What’s your favorite part of making interactive work?

I like the collaborate aspect of interactive work, and that it resists being a static form by evolving with these creative, collaborative contributions. It’s like an ongoing dialogue, not a lecture.

What’s your vision for the ideal way that someone would interact with Sample Philly?

I know there are a lot of creative and talented young people in this city who don’t have access to the tools they need to express themselves, so I really hope that this project can serve as an outlet for creative expression for those children, as well as an educational doorway into a collective cultural history that could potentially inspire them.

An important part of this project, though, is to advocate for more permanent resources for these creative and marginalized kids who lack music and art in their public education. Because part of the concept is to give children in our community access to music production tools, I’ve been incorporating social outreach in the project with music production workshops. I’ve been working with these teenagers at The Advocate Center for Culture and Education for about a year now—I record them and help them produce their music. I’d like to expand this program into a more permanent and equipped studio that would provide free music education and production resources for children in Philadelphia. So ideally, Sample Philly would bring awareness to the larger goal of empowering our city’s children with the tools of self-expression.

What Monument Lab project are you most anticipating—other than your own, of course!

I love Jamel Shabazz, so I really look forward to that project!


Lead Monument Lab partners include the City of Philadelphia; Philadelphia Parks & Recreation; Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy; Historic Philadelphia; Independence National Historic Park; Penn Institute for Urban Research; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Price Lab for Digital Humanities; and the University of Pennsylvania.

Major support for Monument Lab projects staged in Philadelphia’s five squares has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

An expanded artist roster and projects at five neighborhood sites have been made possible by a significant grant from the William Penn Foundation.

Lead corporate sponsor is Bank of America.

Additional support has been provided by Susanna Lachs and Dean Adler, CLAWS Foundation, Hummingbird Foundation, J2 Design, National Endowment for the Arts, Nick & Dee Adams Charitable Fund, Parkway Corporation, Relief Communications LLC, Tiffany Tavarez, Tuttleman Family Foundation, Joe & Renee Zuritsky, and 400+ Kickstarter backers. Support for Monument Lab‘s final publication provided by the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.

Last updated: Sep 6, 2017

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