This is kind of a tangent I started in my last post, which was also synthesizer-related, and it was getting pretty long, irrelevant (and probably boring!). So I thought I’d give it its own space.
My obsession with synth music is pretty well-documented around here, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned my equally-obsessive love for the instruments themselves. I’ve owned many keyboards and synthesizers over the years–nothing that could exactly be considered professional-grade, mind you, but ones emblazoned with Yamaha, Casio, and Korg that are just expensive enough to make me feel like a total amateur unworthy of their ownership.
Sidebar: I never took piano lessons, but I can play pretty well by ear; to the point where I can make people think I’ve had lessons (much to my older sister’s chagrin, who actually did take piano lessons). I usually just need to hear a piece of music one time and I’m able to pluck out the melody with my right hand while figuring out the chords with my left. It’s gimpy and retarded and not at all the way you’re supposed to play piano, but I make it work somehow.
Skill-wise, I’m basically just a slight step above Keyboard Cat.
Anyway, my family ended up buying an upright piano secondhand just so my sister could take lessons. (Well, either that, or my mom just felt she needed another nice-looking piece of furniture to drape with frilly doilies and knickknacks, which, if you’ve seen my parent’s house, you’d know is entirely possible.) Whatever the case, it was cool to have grown up in a house with a piano. I ended up playing the damn thing more than my sister did.
Before we got said piano, however, we had this little beauty:
Yes, it was even PASTEL PINK, just like the one pictured above. This is the Casio SK-1 that was produced in 1985 and came in an array of cool colors. If you’ve ever heard the Whitetown song “Your Woman” (one of my favorite obscure, under-appreciated tracks from the 90’s) you know what this thing sounds like because that song sampled the shit out of it. The pink one happens to be the rarest, and I’m kicking myself for allowing my parents to have gotten rid of it in a yard sale. I’ve seen this particular “toy” keyboard go for hundreds on Ebay, no joke. (More about the SK-1, including an original print ad, can be found here.) I’m still very much lusting after the old pink SK-1 I used to have. I could buy a black one right now on Ebay for about $20, but I WON’T. I demand it to be pink. But somewhere out there lurking in the wild is a pink SK-1 with “Hood” Sharpie’d on the back…because my Dad always made us label EVERY toy that was expensive and could get stolen, like my Game Boy. I guess he figured nobody would want it if they couldn’t show it off.
The main keyboard I have right now is the 76-key Casio WK-500, which is quite large and currently dominates one corner of my office. I like it because I can hook it up to my computer and use it with software like Cakewalk…not that I have any idea what I’m doing, but I do enjoy tinkering and making cool sounds come out of it. It’s a hobby more than anything.
Anyway, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately over at Vintage Synth Explorer and looking up cool synthesizer videos on YouTube, especially ones that show circuit-bending (which is how a lot of your dubstep sausage is made) techniques used on toy pianos (another semi-obsession of mine), like this awesome circuit-bent Muppet Babies keyboard.
I’d really like to buy more equipment and get more into this sort of thing, and actually learn to make coherent-sounding music, and not just my usual retarded mimicry. When I inevitably start that one-woman synth band I’ve been dreaming about–which is really just an elaborate excuse to wear tight pleather and neon eyeshadow–I have my stage name all picked out and everything. I’d reveal what it is, but your head would explode from the sheer awesomeness.