The Story Song Scientists will be dazzling us with their latest findings on Thursday 11th November. We caught up with them to find out all about their new EP and what inspired them to explore scientific themes through their music.
For anyone who’s new to The Story Song Scientists, what can they expect?
Really good and interesting songs shared in a fun, lighthearted way. Lots of laughs and lots of things to inspire the imagination. On our last tour, we loved how many of the audience messaged us on twitter after the shows having researched more about the songs and stories themselves.
You’ve just released a new EP, Quantum Lyrics – tell us about that.
We wrote this EP as the follow up to our first EP and planned to release it and tour it in late 2019/early 2020. A couple of things stalled that plan. One great thing (Meg’s son Sylvester was born) and one not so great thing (Covid bloody 19).
The EP features songs about a volcano that changed the course of history across the entire planet, a man whose blood saved 2.5 million children, an extremely dangerous book which spread like wildfire over the internet, a love song between Siri and Alexa and a song inspired by Gavin Creator-Pinney’s TED Talk about clouds.
How does Quantum Lyrics compare to your previous Story Scientists EP?
We recorded the first EP together at Henwood Studios near Oxford. Meg’s brother Joe Henwood engineered and produced it. The whole EP recording was really quick, live and spontaneous.
Quantum Lyrics was recorded in our own studios and we sent parts to Joe in London and he gradually assembled the parts. It was a slow and labour-intensive process. We had to scrap at least one almost finished song and start again. Somehow, Joe has managed to recreate that intimate feeling of two musicians performing together in the same space, despite us being 345 miles apart.
If you buy the EP as a CD, you get five extra tracks which we’ve called “specimens”. Meg created these sound collages to accompany each track on the album. It’s a similar idea to the Radio Ballads. Some of the reviewers have compared them to the band Public Service Broadcasting.
What gave you the idea to explore scientific themes through your music?
The first song we wrote together on an EFDSS retreat was called The End of Numbers, about Georg Cantor’s struggle with the mathematical and spiritual concept of infinity. We were both about to release solo records (Megan’s The River and Findlay’s Glasgow) and we really wanted to work together on a project without it causing any problems or clashes with our solo work. Maths led to science, and then we planned to do all the songs about science.
Confession time. We ended up focussing a bit more on the Story Song part of the name on the first EP. I think it was only 40% science… the new one is 100% science related 60% of the time. So we’re either the scientists of story song, or the science of songs and stories, or the songs of science stories. We’re not quite sure, as long as the show is entertaining and we’re having a good time writing and performing them.
What’s next for The Story Song Scientists?
We are already working on the third EP. It might be called All-go-rhythm. (See what we did there?) We’ve already got a song ready about Cambridge Analytica and the night someone accidentally pressed the nuclear war emergency alarm button in Nuneaton. We’re only a couple of writing sessions away from starting to finesse the songs and recording the tracks.
We’ve been turning the gig into more of a show with props, wardrobe (we now have late 70s Tomorrow’s World/Open University outfits as well as the lab coats) and streamlining the between-song patter. We were delighted to get a grant from Arts Council England to help with this. We’re really hoping to build another tour for the same time next year that hones the live show and takes in a few larger venues, clubs and arts centres.
The Story Song Scientists will be playing for us on Thursday 11th November at 8pm GMT. Fancy joining us? Find tickets here!