When music nerdism and the internet collide, strange and wonderful things can happen. The perfect example for this is a Facebook page called “Cats On Synthesizers In Space“: True to its name, it specializes in pictures of felines on electronic music instruments floating in space. I found this idea both brilliant and hilarious and I am apparently not the only one: The page currently has more than 30.000 likes, a quite active community and even its own online shop.
I felt that there are probably some good stories behind this and so I asked for an interview. Here’s what Kieran from Cats On Synthesizers In Space told me:
First of all I need to ask the most obvious question about cats on synthesizers in space: Why?
It all started out while joking with a friend over how there seems to be a tumblr for everything, no matter how obscure or specific the subject, and I thought it would be funny to set up an intentionally overly obscure blog of my own. I really like electronic music, astronomy and cats so it seemed strangely intuitive to combine the three. If you google image search “cats synths” it’s apparent that a lot of people with home studios seem to enjoy taking photos of there cats climbing about on their gear… all i did was find these pics and photoshop space into the background which had the surprising effect of making a relatively normal photo into something surreal and strangely epic.
After setting it up I just sort of forgot about it… I certainly didn’t expect it to become so popular! Then one day a few months later I logged into fb to find I’d received thousands of new notifications over night… it was crazy! People were sharing the pics, telling me they really loved the idea and that they wanted to contribute, so i thought that as long as people are interested and having fun then I may as well keep posting stuff, and it just sort of grew from there. So, the short and answer is, it was a personal joke that got really out of hand and is continuing to get more out of hand by the day!
Who came up with the original idea?
Though I came up with the concept independently by combining three intentionally unconnected interests, I definitely can’t take credit for being the first to do it. There’s quite a few other pics that already existed on the internet, most notably the “keyboard cat” video and the classic meme of a cat on a old arp odyssey flying through space… I’d love to meet the person who made that, find out what they think of the Facebook page and if the process that led them to make it was in someway similar or different to my own?
Who is behind the Facebook page?
It’s just me running the fb page though most of the pics are now sent in by followers. I really just see myself as the facilitator as it’s the wonderful community of people that contribute and support the page that are the real creators. It’s amazing to see how different people have their own unique take on the subject, and they can be incredibly creative with it. I’m regularly shocked by professional standards of photoshop skills or the rare equipment used in the pictures… someone recently sent me a pic taken in their studio of their cat on their own moog modular system!… I mean how many people in the world own a moog modular? It’s an honour to think there are some really great music producers following the page that would to take the time to contribute!
What was the first cat on a synthesizer in space?
I can’t remember which one I personally made first, one of these probably…
though as previously mentioned, there were already several others circulating the internet that I can’t take credit for.
Show us your favorite picture!
There’s too many to choose from! This picture of a tiger playing a theremin sent in by Andreas Winterhalter is definitely up there though…
Which is your favorite synthesizer and why?
I’ve got a few favourites… I just picked up a roland juno 6 last week which is really fun to play. The sound is really lush and richly textured. It’s hard to get a bad sound out of it. My moog voyager is probably my favourite though. It’s not as raw as the old model D but the addition of the mod buses makes for an infinitely more versatile synth. It really is a beast! As cliched as it sounds, it can genuinely feel like it’s “alive” at times, sometimes it responds like it already knows what you’re trying to achieve and other times it has it’s own ideas and needs to be tamed, it always seems like it’s one step ahead of you and is all the better off for it. It has character in the way you might expect from a hand crafted acoustic instrument.
The Yamaha CS-80 is stunning on the early Vangelis records. I’d love to get a chance to play one though I expect the arturia VST is likely to be as close as I’ll get as the originals are increasingly rare. I’m also planning on starting building a modular system this year so that should hopefully yield some interesting results!
What are your predictions for the future of the universe, electronic music instruments and the feline species?
The future of the universe…
The fate of the universe could go several ways depending on it’s shape, rate of expansion and the amount of dark energy present (which is still largely unknown to us). The popular theories are “the big rip”, “the big freeze”, “the big crunch” and “the big bounce” and anyone with an interest in cosmology should definitely have a read into them as they’re all fascinating ideas! The big freeze is by definition the most existentially terrifying concept to grasp whereas there’s something really beautiful and harmonious in the big bounce theory.
The future of electronic musical instruments…
I have no idea. I tend to enjoy looking back to older equipment. I like the limitations and instability of older synthesizers and find it fascinating how people managed to exploit them to create sounds that they were never intended to make. It’s hard to imagine the way people must have felt on hearing the first synthesizers used in popular music. Probably quite unsettling, exciting… even terrifying to the more conservative. It’s that cultural impact that I find interesting and I’m not sure that can ever happen again. I might be wrong, but synthesizers are so ubiquitous now and the option to explore an infinite sonic palette is already open to us. The eurorack stuff is exciting though. It’s made modular synthesis affordable to a lot more people and there’s loads of small companies producing some really strange, experimental devices, so I’ll definitely be keeping a look out on where that’s going.
The future of the feline species…
Did you ever see Red Dwarf?