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Creative Inspirations: Mark Mothersbaugh, Music Composer

with Mark Mothersbaugh

Video: Introduction

Music composer and DEVO founder Mark Mothersbaugh reveals what drives his projects, from music for film and television, to compelling drawings and work in Photoshop.
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Creative Inspirations: Mark Mothersbaugh, Music Composer
Video Duration: 0s 56m 36s Appropriate for all


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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.

Audio + Music


(Music playing) Mark Mothersbaugh: I used to like to show them in groups like this. To me this is like my diary. The images come from things that are happening during the day, whether it's a really fun piece of music or bad traffic on Sunset Boulevard. I remember thinking that's why I've spent my whole life learning how to play an instrument. So that I could do that, because that's what I wanted to do.

I was 12 years old. There were girls screaming at the Beatles on TV. I said that's what I want to do. DEVO decided early on that we weren't beautiful asparagus people, but we were more dirty commonplace potatoes. When we came out on stage in yellow HAZMAT outfits that we ripped off and we had like 1950's gym outfits underneath it, and it just didn't look like rock 'n roll at all to people and it didn't sound like it. It was so strange. It was like, everybody would say, well you have got to go through this band.

He said, "Take that sound and mix it with Ennio Morricone and then just give me a Mark Mothersbaugh filter on the whole thing" and I thought, okay. You'd look at the scene. You decide what you'd want to write. You do it really fast. You couldn't really do a lot of different alternative takes. You just had to just like get it out. Something about that was really exciting, how immediate it was. It was kind of scary in a way too. 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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