John Boswell of Bellingham, WA, also known as “melodysheep,” creates musical remixes of science lectures and documentaries to create the popular Symphony of Science videos. Using Auto-Tune technology, he samples clips from Carl Sagan, Bill Nye, and other familiar PBS names to craft songs with science-based messages that have gone viral, reaching millions of online viewers. Proving that scientists can also be rockstars, in 2013 melodysheep released a single featuring Steven Hawking and Carl Sagan, A Glorious Dawn, on Jack White's record label.
QUEST Northwest coordinating producer Katie Jennings spoke with Boswell about his inspiration for making these musical mash-ups.
Q: How did you decide to start doing these kinds of videos?
It was 2009 and I was just out of college and I saw these videos called Auto-Tune the News. They take the technique and apply it to newscasters in online videos. I was just blown away with what they were doing. I started off doing some goofy stuff, but I fell in love with Carl Sagan when I was in college when I saw Cosmos for the first time and I said, well, I’ll just try it on him. I put [the first video] online not knowing if anyone would like it. It blew up on the first week and it was a total shock.
Q: Why have you focused so much on science?