Creative Inspirations: Mark Mothersbaugh, Music Composer
Illustration by John Hersey

Creative Inspirations: Mark Mothersbaugh, Music Composer

with Mark Mothersbaugh

Video: Circuit bent collection

Mark Mothersbaugh: My brother Jim, who used to be first the drummer in DEVO, stopped playing and became just kind of a mad scientist and he became something that later became known as circuit bending. Now, circuit bending is like a really big deal. You know, there are all these little instruments, that are made out of toys, re-purposed into like strange sounding devices. (Music playing) This instrument was made by somebody who calls himself Strange Pursuit, which I took as a compliment because there was a song I wrote back in 1980, 1979, 1980, somewhere in there.

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Watch the Online Video Course Creative Inspirations: Mark Mothersbaugh, Music Composer
56m 36s Appropriate for all Jul 23, 2010

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In this installment of Creative Inspirations, we meet music composer and DEVO founder Mark Mothersbaugh at home at Mutato Muzika, his studio on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. This is where he and his fellow spuds (Mutato combines mutant and potato) create some of film and television's most compelling music.

Mark reveals what drives his projects that have ranged from Clio Award-winning commercials, to Emmy Award-winning music for television, to soundtracks for popular video games. Mark shows us his stunning paintings and drawings that have been shown in galleries around the world, and shares his motivation behind being an artist working in various media, his fascination with mutants and symmetry, and using Photoshop to manipulate his work. He also discusses how the unique DEVO sound, look, and philosophy first came together, and why after a 28-year break, they came back together with a new album and tour.

Subject:
Audio + Music
Author:
Mark Mothersbaugh

Circuit bent collection

Mark Mothersbaugh: My brother Jim, who used to be first the drummer in DEVO, stopped playing and became just kind of a mad scientist and he became something that later became known as circuit bending. Now, circuit bending is like a really big deal. You know, there are all these little instruments, that are made out of toys, re-purposed into like strange sounding devices. (Music playing) This instrument was made by somebody who calls himself Strange Pursuit, which I took as a compliment because there was a song I wrote back in 1980, 1979, 1980, somewhere in there.

The instruments are like by these kids that you know are misunderstood. They are at home. They are like total nerd geeks that are like into electronics and sounds that you don't hear in pop music. (Music playing) I mean, come on! (Music playing) If these devices would have been happening back when I was a kid, I'd have been a very happy guy and I'd have been a part of this movement.

My brother Jim modified all of our synths for us. As a matter of fact, we had a couple of synths that we'd accidentally broken and part of his job when he went on tour with us-- when my brother was working for -- when he was no longer drumming. Now he's was our like mad scientist electronics guy. He'd be like, "Don't let the harp ever get fixed because that's the only way I can get that one sound for Pink Pussy Cat." Which is when you'd touch the keyboard and there would these two notes would play at the same time and they'll go Brr! in opposite directions.

So, part of his job was making sure that things stayed broken. Which is kind of what circuit bending is in a way, is breaking things in a creative fashion.

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