The Sky Is Calling

By Phil Plait | October 9, 2012 12:26 pm

So I sit down to go through my email, and it’s the usual slew of press releases, spam, space enthusiast questions, and marriage proposals. No, wait, I don’t get those last ones. Still, it’s a lot of email.

But one cataches my eye. The subject line is "Space Pop". Just that. Huh. So I click it, and right away I know I was about to be happy.

The opening line is, "I’m a fan. Of you. Of space. Of inspiring curiosity about science. "

I love hearing that. The email is from Kim Boekbinder, an independent pop music artist, and she wants to make a space album. Or more accurately an album of music based on and inspired by space and astronomy, and in the email she’s asking me to be an advisor on it (along with Matt Everingham). She also links to her first song from the album: "The Sky Is Calling". I listen to it, and I’m hooked.

Here’s the song:

I know, right? Kim’s awesome. By the way, she fed an image of the Tarantula nebula through an audio program to create the background for that song. So, yeah.

Kim’s raising funds to get this album [wait for it, wait for it] off the ground [hahahahahaha! I kill me], so she’s got a Kickstarter page for it. As I write this she’s already more than 1/3 of the way to her goal of $30k, which is great! I’d really like to see this album get made. She and I have been chatting back and forth, and every time I send her some astronomy note, she gets really excited and wants to write music about it.

So if you can, kick in some filthy lucre for her. I’ll note that when she got to $5k she wrote a short and quick song based on a post I wrote about the expansion of the Universe. Seriously. And when she got to $10k she wrote a short song about Mars Rovers.

If you want a taste of more of her music, she has some you can listen to on her website. Note: One of them is massively NSFW. You’ll know when you get to it.

The past couple of years has seen a lot of artists looking to include more science in their work (see Related Posts below). Maybe that’s always been there, but what I know is that recently they started contacting me. I think that’s fantastic. After all, isn’t a Hubble picture art? Doesn’t seeing a photo from Curiosity make your heart beat a little faster? Doesn’t something like this pluck at the wires connecting the two halves of your brain?

Science and art are inextricably linked, and I’m more than happy to help more people solidify that connection. So thanks, Kim, for your unabashed love of science. I hope we make beautiful music together.

Related Posts:

Libration libretto
Something Fierce
The Universe Has Us in Its Crosshairs (and this followup)
Zen Pencils: Welcome to Science

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Geekery, Space

Comments (17)

  1. Stan9fromouterspace

    One of the nicest efforts along these lines that I’ve heard, and that Cassini footage was just… well… calling out to be in a music video. She needs to tour on a double bill with Thomas Dolby.

  2. Tara Li

    Not really my type of music – the older Filk material related to space travel works much better for my tastes. Then again, maybe I’m just getting old.

    You might look for Leslie Fish’s song Surprise! on YouTube, sung by Gunnar Madsen. Or the filk album “Minus Ten And Counting”. There are some incredible tributes to space travel.

  3. Interesting you put Something Fierce in the related posts. :) I just saw Marian Call last night in Manchester, NH. She has another show on Friday in Salem, NH (not to be confused with Salem, MA). They are doing a live recording and broadcast of her performance there. If you are in New England, check it out (all the details are on Marian Call’s website).

    By the way Dr. Plait, have you written about TMBG and their entire science themed albums? I thought you had written about it, but I didn’t see it in the related posts.

  4. Tom Hail

    Cool! I like it!

  5. Tad

    I thought the NSFW song was going to be #10 and then I scrolled farther. Yeah. “You’ll know when you get to it.”

  6. Thanks so much for sending out the cosmic love to independent artist Kim Boekbinder. I’m smitten by that video and hearing how Jim Batt assembled the NASA images stop-motion-animation-style only increased the love.

  7. Wzrd1

    I rather loved the music. Some of the early imagery was distracting, some of the later imagery was distracting, as it switched contexts between inner solar system and outer solar system, along with designs of spacecraft unrelated to the context of the previous imagery.
    Frankly, SOME of the graphics would be better served as omitted in favor of imagery and contextual designs and orbital CALCULATIONS.
    THAT would interest more, as some would want to learn WTH those formulae MEANT. :)

  8. Messier Tidy Upper

    Superluminous (i.e. beyond merely brilliant) song. Cheers. 8)

    Loved the juxtaposed technical drawings on astrophotos / Cassini footage & the shift into colour on the solar flare and Soyuz launch especially.

    Wonder if Kim Boekbinder has met Marian Call and what wondrous stuff they could produce if they collaborated together?

    Just one suggestion / request if I may, please, for Kim Boekbinder’s next one – would love to see some more Deep Sky Objects included; eg. Magellanic Clouds, Eta Carinae nebula, planetary nebulae, spiral galaxies such as Whirlpool galaxy M51, Triangulum galaxy M33, the marvellous spiral NGC 2997 and maybe the odd colour comet image in this mix as well? Plus some short captions possibly for some of the images? (Just some hopefully helpful ideas & not meaning to be too greedy or critical, sorry.)

    – A.k.a. astrostevo

  9. Louis


    This reminds me of a Youtube video about a metal song based on the golden ratio. ( Not exactly everyone’s taste, I know, but the theory behind it is quite interesting (The fact that it is Prof Phil Moriarty from Numberphiles providing all the theoretical/mathematical input and some of the guitar and vocal tracking makes it twice as cool!)

    Perhaps Kim could write something based on the orbital ratios of the planets in our solar system? Kind of like a “music of the spheres” type thing? I’m sure that would produce some very interesting sounds as well. (That is if she hasn’t done so already.)

    It also ties in quite nicely with an older post of yours titled “The song of killer electrons”.

  10. bb

    I like 80s pop and irish folk song voices, so it’s a nice song overall. But: the universe isn’t nice, it’s amazing, mind blowing and surprising. So this music just isn’t adequate for the topic.

    Something like Bach’s Mass in B-minor where man feels small confronted with something incredibly great and even a nihilist like Nietzsche was utterly impressed. Look at and maybe you’ll get what I mean. Master Kubrick knew why he chose that kind of music.

  11. Carlos

    Awesome!, really like the lyrics and the link with astronomy and science.

  12. Sigh. Apparently if I ever want to fulfill my dream of having hot, geeky, creative women constantly contact me, I’ll need to become a noted astronomer and start my own blog :)

  13. I love that video! Though did anyone else keep pausing it to try and figure out what each diagram was? Or was that just me? :)

    Also, I wonder if the song is a nod to Carl Sagan? One of his better known quotes:

    “The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.”
    -Carl Sagan, Cosmos, Episode 7

  14. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Joseph G : Could well be. Hadn’t made that connection myself but very plausible. :-)

  15. Martin Bonner

    I wonder if she has contacted Dr Brian May. As well as being a proper astrophysicist, he knows a bit about music.

  16. Matt B.

    I won’t be surprised if Boekbinder ends up being commissioned to do songs for sci-fi movies.

  17. Warburtron

    Joseph G – Yes, Kim confirms she was inspired by that quote, and was trying to get more Sagan in there. Highly likely we can look forward to playing “Name that quote” in later songs.
    As someone who has been a fan of Kim’s for a few years, and a fan of Phil’s for longer, it’s terrific having the two of them in each other’s gravitational pull. I figured they’d get along. :-)
    Popular culture is a fantastic and underutilized medium for raising awareness about space exploration and science in particular. Whether we’re a fan of Kim’s particular style of music or not, the visuals and lyrics push a pro-science agenda that needs encouraging.


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