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New series trailer: Desert Island Scientist

DesertIslandPostcard

You might have heard us jabbering on about something called Desert Island Scientist in the last few months. Well, it’s finally coming! In January 2013, we kick off the series with an episode co-hosted by real, bona fide scientist Dr Owen Rackham. Here’s a sneaky earful of the sort of thing you can expect.

If you’re a scientist and would like to visit our (pretend) desert island, get in touch and we’ll see if we can put you on a show.

Image: Alana’s Vintage Collectibles

“Please hold. Oh and here’s some science while you wait.”

"Please hold. Oh, and here's some science while you wait."

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.

CLIPS!

SPOTIFY LIST!

Image: wax115

Festival of the Spoken Nerd is ON TOUR!

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.

P.S. To celebrate the start of their tour, we’ll be publishing a new Geek Pop session featuring a song we commissioned from Helen back in May. Listen out for that on our podcast feed.


August’s geeky new releases!

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:

A Slight Distraction by The StandardsA Slight Distraction by The Standards (album)

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.

See also: Geek Pop Live Session November 2010, 11 Dimensions (free Geek Pop festival download)

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.

See also: Moon Song by House of Strange (Geek Pop Podcast – August 2011), official video for Wasps


Guest post: Arthouse science gig turns family friendly musical

Professor Karmadillo

Professor Karmadillo is a two-time Geek Pop festival performer and winner of the Graphic Science Most Contrived Rhyme prize in our 2010 songwriting competition

It’s a few months shy of two years since I was motivated by Geek Pop to write and record a sciencey song that I’d had going round in my head. That turned into a dream of doing a live show featuring a whole set of science songs, along with visuals and dancing elephants. The other night, I got to turn that dream, sans elephants, into something as tangible as a live show can be, unveiling a set of specially composed songs at Norwich Arts Centre.

As well as a set consisting largely of never-performed-before material, I also had to contend with not having used visuals before in a music show. I arrived early at the venue to work through any issues with the setup… Fun was had with Quicktime on the provided Mac, which decided not to play the audio in the movie files I had brought with me. There was a hurried download of VLC Media Player, which then came up with an interface in Polish… or maybe Hungarian. It certainly wasn’t English, Elvish or even Greek to me. Luckily the language of play and stop icons translates across user interfaces.

As this was off my home turf we were reliant on what and whom the blurb in the Norwich Arts Centre brochure and on their website would drag in. As it happened, quite a few families turned up – a slight departure from my usual audience of slightly tipsy University students. Now, while Professor Karmadillo is family friendly show – in that as well as being sans elephants, it is also sans swearing – even the simplest material I had written on Brownian motion catered for GCSE-level plus. GCSE being a qualification that some of the kids looked like they might be a few years away from encountering. I was reminded of John Christopher’s comments in the introduction to his Tripods series, in which he describes the challenge of writing for children – and their legendary short attention spans. Needless to say, the presence of so many young’uns gave me The Fear.

Professor KarmadilloThe gig itself was reasonable, with high points and wobbly points – in particular, trying to remember the words towards the end of the set. Definitely could do better. The material’s good, but I need to gain some confidence in delivering it all the way through. And having gone on about how challenging it was doing so much new material, the low point for me was one of the songs I have played the most. It’s comedic and not too high level, but when the audience sits in silence at the lines that usually have them rolling, a bit of a “Gosh, this is a tough crowd” mentality creeps in. Having said that, the GCSE-level-plus ‘Brownian Motion’ was an unexpected high point.

So, some things to chew over, from my own experience and from the reading reviews. The main one being the difference between what I am trying to create and what the audience wants or expects. It was a conscious decision on my part to do an arthouse-pop-meets-high-level-science project, and I deliberately set out not to fit into the teaching science to kids model. The visual developers were given their artistic freedom, leaving me leeway in song and lyric writing to be more indulgent. However, there seems to be a demand for a show aiming at a slightly younger audience. Plus, someone had commented that with a name like Professor Karmadillo they were expecting a costumed kids character!

Anyway, I aim to tie up the arthouse side of things with an album launch in 2012, but am keeping ears and eyes open to inspiration for a show aimed more specifically at kids. And with my own first child due next Spring, it’s almost inevitable.

To this end I’m quite keen to work with live collaborators. So far collaborations have been through the music and visuals. But with a musical and/or stage show in mind, I think it will be crucial to have any collaborators or producers on board from the start. So if you think you’d like to be part of a sciencey music show aimed at young’uns, get in touch!

Like the rain soaked journey down the A11 from Cambridge, Professor Karmadillo has been a bit of a slog at times. But along the way, I’m indulging myself musically and motivating myself to learn more about the amazing world science offers, and (hopefully!) passing on my enthusiasm for both. I’m not quite sure what the destination is for Professor Karmadillo but this trip ain’t over yet.


Helen Arney at Green Man Festival

Over the weekend, Geek Pop alumnus and friend of the podcast Helen Arney appeared on the Solar Stage at Green Man Festival. Here’s a little video of her sun song.

Don’t forget, Helen also appeared on the Geek Like Me mini-album… go buy it!


Save Wilton’s!

Geeks and geekettes! A call to arms!

Do you remember in March we did a little live gig at a beautiful old place called Wilton’s Music Hall? That’s right. Some of you came. It was good, wasn’t it? Now, Wilton’s is in a spot of trouble and this has made the geeks at Geek Pop very upset. So please, please donate what you can to save this amazing building from demolition.

@WiltonMusicHall @savewiltons

Wilton's Music Hall

And to remind you just how incredible this place is, we’re re-posting the photos from our live event in March.

Thanks to Ben Valsler of The Naked Scientists for some of these (the good ones).

https://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

[Click speech bubbles for captions]

Spirit of Play mix it up for Geek Calendar

So if you read our newsletter earlier today, you’ll know that we’ve been involved in a deliciously nerdy project entitled Geek Calendar. Very excitingly, we’ve been able to contribute – in a small but important way – by putting the Calendar guys in touch with Geek Popsters Spirit of Play (remember them from Geek Pop 2010, and 2009?). They’ve remixed their track ‘Geek of the Week’ especially for the launch of this AWESOME Geek Calendar trailer, which neatly explains what the whole project is about.

So go PRE-ORDER YOUR GEEK CALENDAR today and support libel reform.

Here’s that ultra-nerdy remixed version (right click and Save As) as a free download:

Geek of the Week (Geek Calendar remix) – Spirit of Play

And for other versions of ‘Geek of the Week’, try these. Again, right click and Save As to download:

Geek of the Week (original) – Spirit of Play

Geek of the Week (live) – Spirit of Play (from our exclusive live sessions archive)


Geek Pop sessions on Green Man FM

2010_08_19_GreenManFM.jpgFinally, Geek Pop has it’s own radio show! (Albeit for one weekend…)

Geek Pop Podcast host Jim will be taking to the airwaves on Green Man FM at Green Man Festival in Wales. He’ll be plugging Geek Pop artists playing on the Solar Stage and generally bigging up the Einstein’s Garden area of the festival. You can listen at 87.7FM around the festival site, online at GreenMan.Net or in iTunes, or listen again with MixCloud. All the links are here. Also, follow @GreenManFM on Twitter. Here are Jim’s slots:

3-5pm, Thursday 20 August

1-3pm, Saturday 21 August

Yay!


The Essential Collection for Nerds 2010

Just this morning, we came up with an ingenious idea. “Let’s make a Geek Pop album!” we thought. Then we considered the colossal amount of work this would doubtless entail and gave up on it. But THEN we thought: why not bundle up all our favourite songs from the last year’s worth of podcasts and make some sort of Geek Pop compilation mega-mix? This being the internet, you don’t actually have to MAKE the compilation, so we’ve just included all the links to the songs so you can pick and choose them from iTunes at your leisure, or download the lot (for a rather reasonable £5.53 total, unfortunately money that goes into Apple’s pocket and not ours).

Anyway, enjoy! These are our ten nerd picks for 2010.

***UPDATE 30/06/10*** Here’s some cover art for your homemade compilation.

The Soft Bulletin - Flaming LipsRace for the Prize – Flaming Lips (1999)

From the album The Soft Bulletin, ‘Race for the Prize’ tells the story of two scientists “racing for the good of all mankind.” What exactly they were trying to do we don’t know, but it was certainly apt in a time when geneticists Craig Venter and Francis Collins were battling it out to complete one of mankind’s biggest ever science projects – the sequencing of the human genome.

Featured on the July 2009 podcast | Download in iTunes (£0.79)

Hope Chest - 10,000 ManiacsPlanned Obsolescence – 10,000 Maniacs (1982)

Apparently something of a meditation on the reductionist nature of science, ‘Planned Obsolescence’ was one of the Maniacs’ very first tracks, released on their debut EP in 1982. Does science remove all the mystery from life? Or do discoveries only uncover new mysteries?

Featured on the November 2009 podcast | Download in iTunes (£0.79)

Flood - They Might Be GiantsParticle Man – They Might Be Giants (1990)

A potentially baffling but unshakably catchy contribution to nerd music by alt-rockers They Might Be Giants. Particle Man (whoever he is) gets into a fight with Triangle Man. There’s also Person Man and Universe Man. We don’t know who they all are, but it’s got particles in it.

Featured on the January 2010 podcast | Download in iTunes (£0.79)

Spirit of Play (Geek Pop '09)Geek of the Week (Live) – Spirit of Play (2009)

In celebrating the life of the geek, Spirit of Play have captured the true essence of Geek Pop. “I’m geek of the week, and I’m not ashamed. Got three letters after my name…” Silly, fun and beautifully performed in this acoustic version from Geek Pop London 2010.

Featured on the 26 March 2010 podcast | Download here (right click and Save As) courtesy of Spirit of Play – thanks guys!

Richard EveThe Ballad of Tony Plankton – Stay Naked (c. 1996)

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any sillier, up pops Stay Naked with its gentle electronica and… well, plankton-based music. There’s all sorts of science in this, mostly centred around food chains. But it really makes the grade due to these lyrics: “Please, Mr Whale go away, Haven’t you eaten already?, There’s plenty of other stuff so bugger off.”

Featured on the February 2010 podcast | Download here (right click and choose Save As) courtesy of Richard Eve – thanks!

Open Season - British Sea PowerOh, Larsen B – British Sea Power (2005)

Famously (or less so if you happen not to be quite such a nerd) written about the disintegration of the Antarctic ice shelf Larsen B. It’s a tragic tale of our time; even British Sea Power’s heroic offer (“you can fall on me”) wouldn’t have been enough to save the 500 billion tonnes of pack ice and snow that came crashing down in 2002.

Featured on the August 2009 podcast | Download in iTunes (£0.79)

J5 (Deluxe Edition)Lesson 6: The Lecture – Jurassic 5 (c. 1997)

Proper old school hip hop from ‘Cut Chemist’, a member of the J5 crew , ‘Lesson 6′ appears in different guises on the Eponymous and Deep Concentration albums. Samples apparently include excerpts from chemistry lectures, including a reading of the oxidation states of various chemical elements.

Featured on the January 2010 podcast | Download in iTunes (£0.79)

The Grand Tour - The Sound of the LadiesThe Grand Tour – The Sound of the Ladies (2009)

From Martin Austwick’s beautiful EP of songs about space, the Grand Tour is the pick of the bunch, and features in our Geek Pop ’10 festival celebrations. Be sure to also listen to the acoustic version released exclusively at Geek Pop in April 2010. Oh, and it’s about a tour of the Solar System.

Featured on the April 2010 podcast | Download here or at TSOTL’s website (donation optional)

Zager & EvansIn the Year 2525 – Zager & Evans (1969)

The oldest of our compilation tracks, this is a bizarre mix of Spanish-sounding guitar and technological prophecies. (“In the year 5555, Your arms are hanging limp at your sides, Your legs got nothing to do, Some machine is doing that for you.”) Check out the You Tube video too. Priceless.

Featured on the August 2009 podcast | Download in iTunes (£0.79)

The Dark Side of the Moon - Pink FloydEclipse – Pink Floyd (1973)

It doesn’t get any better than this for geek rock. So we’ve nothing else to say about it really, except: listen.

Featured on the July 2009 podcast | Download in iTunes (£0.79)

Here’s the same list on Spotify (minus a few exclusives that you’ll just have to download here).


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