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Aliens, the tube, and the CIA: an interview with Spacepants

This Saturday, Spacepants perform on a bill alongside Electric Soundbath and Luther Burbank at the California Institute of Abnormalarts, or CIA, on a show presented by Synchromy. According to the pants, while Jennifer Beattie was singing and Diana Wade was playing viola at a music festival in Vermont, they met, realized they shared a life-long dream of wearing as many sparkles as possible, and ran joyfully out into a field to celebrate.  Their enthusiasm attracted the attention of some rad aliens who invited us to party and jam with them. As luck would have it, they were having a full-on sparkle party. When Jen and Diana woke up the next day, groggy and disoriented, they discovered the rad aliens had left us three parting gifts: a 25-foot long tube, a mission, and several pairs of spacepants. The tube would of course become a central focus of their music-making.  The mission, which they accepted, is to wear spacepants while bringing both their own and other earth-bound beings’ works of music, poetry, multi-media, storytelling and art to life. There was also something about crystals.

Ahead of the show Spacepants had time to answer a few questions and send us a photo of space whales cuddling.

Space whales. Photo provided by Spacepants.
Space whales. Photo provided by Spacepants.

My understanding is that Spacepants found their beginnings in a field in Vermont with some aliens and a lot of sparkles. Could you expand on that?

The thing is, this was one. serious. party.   We were completely unprepared for the life-changeingness of this party. At the party was the tube.  And honestly, nothing else mattered once we saw that thing. The aliens were maybe doing telepathy, but anyway they had this great welcoming attitude and inclusive energy, and there was this music that we just couldn’t ignore.  The aliens and the music were totally rad. We never wanted that Sparkle Party to end.

It seems like you’ve taken the 25 foot drainage tube they left you quite seriously, where some groups might do one piece with it and move on. I’ve heard you a few times and know what a range of sounds it can make…but can you sell us on tube?

Sales are not required. The tube is the perfect instrument. The tube is life.  Sounds of the tube will enter your dreams and re-arrange your subconscious formats so you can hear the sounds of the universe really really good.  We show our gratitude to our friends the rad aliens with tubular celebration at every show.

Periscope, your current live set that you’re playing this weekend, is anchored by the Spacepants arrangement of Garth Knox’s Jonah and the Whale. What went into making this arrangement? Are Spacepants down on whales?

Spacepants about to go on stage. Photo by Spacepants.
Spacepants about to go on stage. Photo by Spacepants.

We got the idea to make this arrangement by hearing the original version with tuba, and then we were like well, Jen could be a tuba too, so we called the aliens and they sent us a tube harness so we could strap the tube to our bodies, and then Diana slayed on viola and then we were pretty much there.  The existence of our best friends, Spacewhale 1 and Spacewhale 2, proves that we’re not down on whales.

The pants have one leg on each coast of the US. How do you prepare pieces? Are meetings most convenient in the loins?

Actually, there is an intergalactic rehearsal space, but it’s expensive, as you can imagine.  Spacepants gets a huge discount cause we know a guy.   We also like Miami, which is kind of like meeting in the foot, or Sea Ranch, which is in the shoulder-zone.  But yeah, it’s different! We often do that thing called planning ahead, which is weird; we dream up ideas on long phone calls, practice on our own, and delight in the unexpected. We have a huge amount of trust in each other on stage, and whatever happens, we’re wearing spacepants, so we know we’ll be fine.     

Before you met these aliens you were on what seems like a very traditional path in classical music, and now you are featured on prayer candles. This seems like a win to me. But you’ve certainly still got connections to the classical world. Are folks there, if there is a there, as receptive as you’d hope to this project?

Let’s get one thing straight: we’re not on the prayer candle, the tube is on the prayer candle.  Tube is life. 

It seems as though wherever we go, the reputation of the tube precedes itself. We’re surprised and delighted to say that many of our colleagues seem surprised and delighted by the tube.  We’re pretty sure cellists are into us, but we’re cornering the tuba market, so there might be some animosity there. 

Pre-alien sparkle party, were you as interested in performance art? That’s a major part of what Spacepants does.

It’s basically like this: after the Sparkle Party we realized that we had not only gained a tube and Spacepants, we had also gained a new perspective.  What the rad aliens had was curiosity, and in honor of that we are just letting our curiosity and enthusiasm direct the development of Spacepants.  So we’re pretty much interested in everything, and everything is an idea waiting to be celebrated and explored. 

Talk to me about the CIA.

Well, Diana’s dad was in it. 

Also, there’s a clown corpse, and you can drink beer in there! 

How can people find you?

@spacepantsmusic on Instagram; Facebook.com/spacepantsmusic

Anything else you’d like to add?

If you come to our show, you can make yourself a tinfoil hat.  Or, you can make yourself TWO tinfoil hats.  One to wear now, and one for later.  Also, we are lucky enough to be playing next to two other *fabulous* acts: Electric Sound Bath and Luther Burbank.  Doors are at 8:30, 18 and over, full bar at the venue.  We always encourage sparkles – get your best Sparkle Party outfits on and wear ‘em to the show!

You heard the pants. See you Saturday night. Details on the facebook event page at facebook.com/events/405850136893675.

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