Vicky West, Geek Pop
Ben - Geekpop is an online music festival dedicated to music about, or inspired by science. To give you an idea of the sort of music we’re talking about here’s a sample of the song ‘nanobot’ by ‘A Latin Punk Circle.’
ALatinPunkCircle - Nanobot
Ben - Hi Vicky, thanks for joining us.
Vicky - Thank you for having me.
Ben - Geekpop is a fantastic idea. How did you come up with this?
Vicky - It was a bit of a pet project really. Me and a couple of fellow geeks were doing a post grad course in science communication which is very serious and all about expelling the myths of scientists being these labcoat-wearing, bespectacled people. We just thought, it’s not all about this. Sometimes there are geeks who are quite happy to be geeks and have a bit of fun with it as well. We threw it open on our Facebook group just to come up with some science-related pop music. We had the usual suspects: Atomic Kitten – fairly tenuous links. It just kind of snowballed from there. We started getting contacts from lots of bands who were either working in science or were writing about scientific matters. They were asking to get involved and whether there’d be a platform to share their music. That’s how the GeekPop festival came about, really.
Ben - As you said, it’s an online music festival. When I think of music festivals I think of very large, muddy fields. I think of knackered tents, big stages, loud bands. How does this work online?
Vicky - It’s basically, if you imagine your favourite festival, in the comfort of your own home or car or wherever you listen to your mp3 player. We’ve got 4 different tents. There’s the tetrahedron, (other shapes are available), the reproductive stage, the tesla tent and the experimental stage as well: much like many of the big commercial festivals. There are lots of different styles of music at each tent. You obviously don’t have to pay. It’s free-of-charge. We ask people to get online – geekpop.co.uk – and download it to your mp3 player. Then you can have this virtual festival experience whenever or wherever you like.
Ben - So you’re not tied down to particular times of live events that you’re streaming across the internet? You can actually download these and listen and stop and start wherever need be, go back and listen to a song again. This is actually a lot better than going to a real festival where you’ll get caked in mud and all the really good bits you’ll have to rely on your (somewhat shoddy) memory for.
Vicky - Indeed. Memories aren’t always the most reliable at festivals, are they? I don’t know what your experiences are like, Ben. It’s pretty much that. Although it feels like a live experience you can revisit it any time you like. If there’s a particular band you’re into. We also have some exclusive green room areas as well. If you want to find out more about a band or the science behind a song we have lots of interview about those bands. There’s some online content as well. You can literally pick it up and put it down as you wish. It’s an annual event. Last year’s turned into a much bigger event than we ever anticipated. We’ve got big hopes for this year’s event as well which kicks off on the 6th March, which happens to be our national Science and Engineering week as well. Purely coincidental. It’ll be up there for some time so you can pitch in at any time you like.
Ben - That’s good to hear. The last clip of the song we heard was clearly and very obviously a song written about a scientific topic. I’ve been sent a sample by a band called The Standard which seems to be rather less directly scientific but more inspired by something. Let’s have a play at that.
The Standards - 11 Dimensions
Ben - That is a tiny bit tenuous. Have you had to turn anyone away? Has someone turned up and said – ‘I’ve got this song, it’s all about science I’d like you to publicise it for me on the net,’ and you’ve had to say, ‘well, I’m sorry but that’s just misleading science?’
Vicky - Absolutely. We do have elements of quality control. It’s not a free-for-all. Everyone’s had to audition in a virtual festival environment. The bands that have made it through – I hope that anyone that downloads it will agree – they’re all really good quality bands. Very diverse and like you say lots of them are directly science related and lots of them quite tenuous. Yeah, they’ve all earned their place at the festival. We’ve got lots of people that will be frankly gutted, I would imagine! There’s always next year.
Ben - Where do we have to go online to listen?
Vicky - You can head to Geekpop.co.uk. As of March 6th the brand new festival will be up there. At the moment you’ve still got an opportunity to listen to last year’s festival. You can also join us – we’ve got a Facebook group which is very popular. Just look for Geekpop. We also have Twitter as well. If you’re into Twittering you can join along. The week before the festival things are getting very hyper and lots of Twitter activity going on there. We’ve also, being a festival we do have a lost and found facility as well, albeit a virtual one. We’re appealing for people at the moment to get involved to anticipate things they might lose and indeed find at a festival. If you want to take part ahead of the release day then do get in touch either by Facebook or the website.