Something kinda funny happened a few weeks ago. The British Library contacted us to ask if we would send them a copy of our record. Yes, the one that we made with just a little bit (*cough* a lot) of help from some awesome artists, in March 2011. We couldn’t quite believe our emails. This surely, would be the ultimate endorsement of our geek recording – being collected by a LIBRARY. *Does a little dance* And not just any library… THE BRITISH LIBRARY! *Does chair spin until dizzy*
Of course, we didn’t waste a second. We packaged up a copy of Geek Like Me and sent it off to Andy Linehan, Curator of Popular Music at the BL (coolest job EVER), right away.
When we asked Andy why he wanted a copy, this is what he said:
“We’re always on the lookout for new music to add to our collections, particularly when released by smaller independent labels that might otherwise slip under the radar. Compilations such as Geek Like Me allow us to represent types of music or scenes that might not be widely-known or celebrated but form an important part of the national musical culture.”
Apparently the BL has been receiving all sorts of rare and random recordings of late. So… if you’ve made your own under-the-radar recording, why not ask Andy and co whether they’d like a copy? As far as we’re concerned it’s nothing less than an HONOUR to have our own British Library catalogue number! (Why, yes, we do!)
Can you tell we’re happy?
Vote for our local science centre’s hold music!
When you ring your bank or internet provider or washing machine helpline you know you’re going to get stuck listening to some crappy hold music that’s going to make you want to chew your own arm off before anybody anwers.
But NOT when you ring Bristol’s local science centre! Not anymore. If you ring At-Bristol, you’re going to get something geeky, poppy and utterly delectable. And WE ALL get to decide what that is. Yes, the folks from At-Bristol have sought help from the foremost connoisseurs of science music *cough* (us) and we’re turning this into a democratic vote.
So. The brief was:
“a cute quirky song about science that is pretty accessible to non-scientists”
We’ve whittled it down to five for them. They’re all songs that have at some point featured on the Geek Pop podcast – so they’ve already undergone rigorous review, as listeners will know… Now here’s where you come in. Have a little look at the list of songs below, have a listen to the clips, or listen here to the full songs (Spotify). And then VOTE for the song you think At-Bristol should use as its hold music. Bear in mind the brief but also, consider what you would like to hear if you rang your local science centre. We’ll be taking your votes until next Wednesday at noon. THIS IS IMPORTANT DUDES! GO!
Oh and for tweeters the hashtag is #scienceholdmusic.
Hello ladies and gents. What are you doing for the next couple of months? Tell you what… don’t do ANYTHING until you’ve booked to go and see Festival of the Spoken Nerd on tour. In fact, why not just take October and November off and go to all 21 shows? Huh? Well, okay, not the ones that are already sold out. And obviously not Swindon. (JOKING!)
FOTSN, as those in the know call it, is the comedy science show hosted by our friends Helen, Matt and Steve. You’ll probably know geek songstress Helen Arney from last year’s Geek Pop EP Geek Like Me and her many performances at Geek Pop festivals. And you may know Steve Mould as the host of our Geek Pop launch event a couple of years back. He was the guy who decided to light a FIRE on stage in the world’s oldest surviving WOODEN music hall. (“It’ll be fine – I’ve got a risk assessment!”) Matt Parker is the other one. He’s a massive maths nerd. And funny too.
Anyway, here’s some blurb:
“After a year of sell-out shows in London and science festivals, we’re coming to a venue near you to ask: When can you use a parabola to set stuff on fire? How does the angler fish make love? And how dangerous can things get with just numbers?”
“A riotously funny show about science… brimming with unashamed. ****” – Three Weeks
We’ll be heading over to the one in Bath on 21st November. There are still TICKETS everywhere except Coventry. So Coventry is WINNING – clear contender for nerd capital of the UK… Anyway, this will be ACE, so book soon.
Geek Pop has been on a leeeeetle holiday. So in lieu of a podcast this month (don’t worry, the September one’s already been recorded) we’re bigging up a couple of shiny new releases by some friends. Try:
Released: 27th August on Schnapps House Records
Arrived at Geek Pop HQ looking tasty enough to eat, courtesy of vintage-style artwork by Ben Pinwill. Delivered earworm upon earworm of rocking tunage. With songs about Mice and Drowning, the links to science are tenuous to say the least, but when has that ever stopped us from sticking something on the GP playlist? Ace.
Fishes/Wasps by Emperor Yes (single)
Released: 8th October on Tape Club Records
From the same indie label as Bronze Medallists, Emperor Yes brings together musicians from Three Trapped Tigers, Summer Camp and House of Strange. Bleepy bloopy noises, lyrics about the evils of Hymenoptera and did we mention it comes on a limited edition CASSETTE TAPE? These dudes are IT.
The day is upon us! Yes, today we announce the results of The Science Songwriter of the Future! competition that we’ve been running over the summer. And those right there are the medals – lovingly crafted by Lynn at Tuck Shop – that our winners will soon be receiving… But before we get down to it, a massive thank you to EVERYONE who has been involved in organising, supporting and judging SSotF. We’ve had oodles of fun, but it’s involved lots of people’s time and energy, some fervent head-scratching and some very long Skype conversations.
In particular, we at Geek Pop would like to thank: co-organisers Sociable Physics, Institute of Physics, I’m A Scientist Get Me Out of Here, Green Man Festival, House of Strange and our magnificent panel of judges.
Of course, deciding on a winner has been made all the more head-scratchingly difficult by the influx of brilliant entries we’ve had from talented, enthusiastic and generally awesome young people. The aim of SSotF was to get you guys writing about, singing about and having fun with science and we’re so pleased to see that all of those things have been happening! You’re all winners in our eyes (no cheese intended). *Virtual hugs!*
“Just tell us who has WON!” you cry! Alright, alright. So…
FIRST PRIZE: The LHC Song by Jamie Ough
Jamie told us:
“I’m glad you thought my song about particle smashing was particularly smashing. I’m 18 (just left school), and from Hertfordshire. I used free software (Mixcraft) to make the song… I played and recorded the ukulele and accordian, the glockenspiel and hand claps were synthesised through Mixcraft. It’s hard to say where exactly the idea came from. I guess it’s something to do with how much the awesome stuff happening at CERN has been in the news recently.”
And judge Tom Robinson was mighty impressed:
“Crisp, focussed and memorable. Like the best scientific laws & formulae it’s brief and to the point… I’d play this on the radio.”
CONGRATS! Jamie wins tickets to Green Man Festival to see some awesome bands, and also to attend a special science songwriting workshop in Einstein’s Garden. PLUS, he’ll get the chance to record his song at the incredible House of Strange studios, which have hosted the likes of Mumford and Sons, Noah and the Whale, Ash and Emmy the Great. Talk about in good company!
SECOND PRIZE: Lab 13’s science song
THIRD PRIZE: Zero Air Resistance by Alannah Cowley
SOCIAL PHYSICS PRIZE: Infinite by Ben Lambert and Furat Aziz
Judge for the Social Physics category Helen Arney said:
“Marvellous… It has a few nice touches of humour and I enjoyed the structure and style – it broke out of classic verse/chorus/bridge placement. The overdubs at the end I also really liked, where he’s trying to get across two ideas at once and that’s really hard to do.”
iTunes vouchers will be winging their way to Lab 13, Alannah, Ben and Furat very soon! Well done!
And it’s not over yet… Expect some words about the winners from our judges, field reporting from the songwriting workshop in Einstein’s Garden and the all singing, all dancing, fully produced-up version of Jamie’s LHC Song a la House of Strange. Too much excitement!
Science Songwriter of The Future! is a national competition, run by Sociable Physics and Geek Pop, to find Britain’s best science songwriters aged 18 or under. Simply record a song about science and submit an mp3 to us at firstname.lastname@example.org by July 13th.
We’ve roped in some experts from the worlds of science and music to judge your songwriting skills. And there are some AWESOME prizes on offer. This year, there’s also a special Institute of Physics category for the best song on the topic of “The Social Physicist”, with its own mini-prize.
Weekend-long tickets and train fares for the winner and a guest (or guardian) to go to Green Man Festival and take part in a science songwriting workshop in Einstein’s Garden.
A recording session at London’s House of Strange studios – to record the winning entry in style.
2nd Prize: £50 iTunes voucher
3rd Prize: £25 iTunes voucher
“The Social Physicist” prize: £50 iTunes voucher
Isy Suttie is not only a star of Channel 4’s Peep Show, she’s also a very talented musician and comedian, and she’s been taking her mini-musicals to the Edinburgh Fringe since 2007. Her 2011 show, Pearl and Dave, made her audiences laugh and cry, so we’re hoping Isy will pick out a song with the elusive Smile Factor.
Tom Robinson is a veteran of the UK punk and new wave scene. He’s a Sony-award winning broadcaster and has DJed on all six of the BBC’s national radio stations. Since 2007, Tom has been a tireless champion of new music via his Fresh on The Net show. He can spot a good song at fifty paces with his hands tied behind his back.
Helen Keen, star of stage and radio, wrote and presented BBC Radio 4’s recent series It is Rocket Science, based on her one-woman show of the same name. She runs Spacetacular, a monthly science and comedy night, and this year takes her show Robot Woman of Tomorrow to Edinburgh Fringe. Helen has forgotten more about space than we’ll ever know.
MJ Hibbett has been writing and performing music for 15 years. His second studio album, This Is Not A Library, was named album of the year by Rolling Stone magazine. In 2009, he started performing a one-man stand-up show about dinosaurs that morphed into the two-man rock opera, and later album, Dinosaur Planet. If you’re thinking about writing a song about dinosaurs invading the Earth, make sure he hasn’t done it first.
Tom Whyntie is a real, honest-to-goodness CERN physicist, musician and performer. He’s a FameLab winner, and has appeared on Channel 4 and at the Cheltenham Science Festival, and will be looking out for songs that make science accessible, fun and interesting.
And judging the “The Social Physicist” category…
Martin Austwick researches social physics (using maths to understand human behaviour) at the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, and is a keen science songwriter. This prize is especially close to his heart; he wants to use it to convince his friends that physicists aren’t so bad after all.
Hayley Birch curates and commissions music about science for Geek Pop, and manages the Solar Stage in Einstein’s Garden at Green Man Festival. Her day job is writing about science but she’s listened to more physics songs than you’ve had hot dinners and knows a quark when she hears it.
Once upon a time, Helen Arney was a lowly physics student – now she’s a science songstress, and something of a wizard on the ukulele. She is one third of Festival of the Spoken Nerd and has shared stages with the likes of Brian Cox and Tim Minchin. Helen will be on the look out for the kind of wry, bittersweet songwriting she’s known for herself.
Who is it open to?
Anyone who is 18 or under (so is at school or has just left school/sixth form college) and lives in England, Scotland or Wales. And you must be able to come to the Green Man festival (August 17-19th 2012).
If you win, and are under 18, you must use your second ticket for an accompanying adult (over 21) to attend Green Man Festival.
What do we want?
Science songs, written by you, and recorded. Your song can be about anything related to science – good science, bad science, famous scientists, discoveries, inventions, your favourite science fact, anything.
When do we want it?
By July 13th, please.
What’s this “Social Physicist” prize?
It’s a prize for the best song about “social” and “physics”! This could be about a friendly physicist, a way physics has affected society, or how you can use physics to understand society (which is sort of what judge Martin Austwick does at his home in UCL-CASA)… You can interpret this any way you want. We want to show that physicists think about people as well as physics and can be useful (at least sometimes)…
How do I submit my song?
Send your finished song as an MP3 to email@example.com, along with the lyrics. You could alternatively send a download link if you prefer.
When will I know whether I’ve won?
We’ll announce the winners by July 27th. But hopefully before then.
Does the song have to have words?
Does the song have to have instruments?
No. It can be just people singing. Or rapping. Or rap-singing. (Is rap-singing a thing?)
What will songs be judged on?
Sciencey-ness. Music-y-ness, including melody, lyrics and rhythm. And the all-important Smile Factor. You won’t be judged on the production values of your recording.
Does it have to be professionally recorded?
No, we’re interested in the quality of the song not the quality of the recording. Of course, we want to be able to hear it! But a recording on a phone is fine if you don’t have professional equipment.
Can I get help?
Of course! You can write the song yourself, and ask a friend to sing it. And if you’re in a band, you can play a song together. But the prize is for the songwriter, so you should write the song.
But then who wins the prize?
You must nominate a songwriter who will win the prize if your song is picked. We only have so many prizes, sorry!
Do I have to bring my mum/dad/guardian if I win?
If you’re under 18, I’m afraid you do. They’ll have a lovely time.
Can I take a famous/existing song and just change the words?
No, please don’t do that. Songwriting is writing music as well as words. If we think your song is too much like a popular song we won’t like it as much and it probably won’t win.
Can I submit a song from my 1982 album Disco Science?
Ha! Trick question! If you were around in 1982 you’re TOO OLD to enter! But more generally… your song must not have been released (or otherwise made widely available) before the competition deadline. If it’s been in your attic for a year, no probs. If it went double platinum in 2010, not so much.
Can I swear and schnizet?
Please don’t. (Is “schiznet” a swear?) Nothing that would upset your grandmother.
Is the judges’ decision final?
It sure is. MWAH HAH HAH HAH <splutter>
Who are the people who have made this wonderful thing possible?
Why only Martin Austwick at Sociable Physics, Hayley Birch at Geek Pop, Einstein’s Garden at Green Man Festival, I’m A Scientist Get Me Out of Here!, the Institute of Physics and House of Strange. Not to mention our lovely judges.
Isy Suttie by salimfadhley (licensed under the terms of the cc-by-sa-2.0.). MJ Hibbett by W Stone. Hayley Birch by Alex Davis. Helen Arney by Idil Sukan.
You may remember us running a songwriting competition over the summer a couple of years ago. We had some unbelievably good entries and crowned a worthy winner in comic book illustrator Naomi Fearn, who went on to join the line-up for the Geek Pop 2011 festival.
Well, the songwriting competition is back, but this time we’re working in collaboration with friend, sociable physicist, fellow podcaster and star of Geek Pop festivals past, Dr Martin Austwick. And we’re on the hunt for the science songwriters of the future – you have to be 18 or under to take part. (Sorry, everyone else!*)
The prizes are going to be bigger and better than before. Thanks to our links with Green Man Festival, we’re able to offer two free tickets for the festival this August. The winner (accompanied by a guardian) will get to join a special science songwriting workshop in Einstein’s Garden, the tippest, toppest, artsiest science garden you ever did come across at a music festival… And most probably anywhere else.
And if that’s not enough, we’ll play the winning song on the Geek Pop Podcast. Fame and fortune await!
Songs can be based on any scientific topic, but there will be a bonus prize for songs about “sociable physics” – that’s the Dr’s specialist area and he’ll be explaining more about it when we announce full details in the next week or so. For now though, get writing… You have about two months to put together your science songs! For inspiration, check out our archives of songs from the podcast and festival.