In space, no one can hear you scream. In fact, no one can hear anything, because sound doesn’t have an atmosphere within which to travel from source to ear. That doesn’t mean you don’t spend time crafting great music for space, though. Indeed, music might be a universal language within which we can express emotion to beings completely different from ourselves.
Test Shot Starfish understands this mission, and the Los Angeles duo chooses to accept it. Space X, the private aeronautic transportation manufacturer run by Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk, licenses all its music from Test Shot Starfish exclusively. So, in a way, TSS is the sound of space, if it had one — at least in this parsec.
Today, we dive deep into the inner-workings of the duo to hear the backstory and inspiration behind each of the tracks on its new album Music for Space. There’s a theme at play here, and it’s more scientific than fantasy, but it’s still sci-fi as all get out.
[We] started this song from watching the film For All Mankind, and it became inspired by the successful advancements that have been made [toward] reuse rockets, allowing us to get to space in a more cost-effective and more frequent way.
We got a new Moog Model D from our Moogfest visit, and the song “Rollout” was born. For us, a new toy can literally inspire a track over night. The name for the song derives from the term of a launch vehicle rolling out to the pad. That portion of the mission is called “Rollout.”
“In the Shadow of Giants”
Ryan Stuit: [This song was] inspired by the amazingly detailed photographs of our giant planet Saturn that the Cassini satellite recently sent to Earth. [It] was like nothing we had ever seen before.
Kyle Schember: I actually set an alarm to watch the end of that mission. To see the room of people who had worked tirelessly on that for so many years was quite an emotional experience. I could feel the sense of sadness and accomplishment as they watched the spacecraft send its final images. That’s quite a sacrifice for continued knowledge and exploration.
This track is inspired by the excitement, tension and precision in the moment of bringing the Dragon capsule together with the International Space Station and its crew.
This track came out of looking at a lot of retro sci-fi art, especially from the legendary artist Chesley Bonestell.
Hoping to create a kind of floating, or moving through space with an anticipation of a new destination, kind of vibe. A lot of the album art was being made during this song’s process.
The idea came from working with footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. At the same time, an exciting new SpaceX Heavy rocket launched from that historical and significant site, Launch Complex 39. LC-39A was the launch site of Apollo program and the Space Shuttle.
Written for the 60th anniversary, on October 4, 2017, of Earth’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik. A lot of the sounds used were samples from the actual satellite and old news broadcasts from around the world.
I wanted a “Heavier” song, so a good place to look for inspiration came about from the massive rockets that are now in use, like Falcon Heavy and the SLS at NASA, [which are] bringing the space program into a new age of being able to deliver larger payloads to orbit. This is a crucial stage in further space exploration and the building of new infrastructure outside of our atmosphere.
[This was] inspired by a mission that marked the first re-flight of a Dragon spacecraft, [which had] previously flown to the International Space Station.
This started with a little side chained pulsing synth and had a good moving-forward kind of sound. The Andromeda Galaxy, our nearest galaxy to the Milky Way, kind of made sense as a theme.
“Return to Flight”
It’s always fun to do an ambient track and work with old NASA transmissions from different flights. It marked the first launch since a Falcon 9 rocket exploded. The success of the launch was even more exciting when the first stage boosters safely returned from space and landed on the SpaceX drone ship platform in the ocean.
NASA had just received amazing pictures of Pluto from the New Horizons spacecraft in 2017. I also just liked the visual of the definition after looking it up. “FlyBy: flight past a point, especially the close approach of a spacecraft to a planet or moon for observation.”
This track evolved in sections and different tempos, so we stitched it together, and it gave it a kind of traveling, journey feeling. [It’s] a little inspired by the the vision of physically exploring more of the Moon and Mars. From here, I think the third album will focus on the actual journey into space. “Ascent” is somewhat the last thought and has the sound of leaving the atmosphere, reaching the edge of space, and what lies beyond that. We have only scratched the surface of. All the entrepreneurs of today are our “Lewis & Clark,” who are literally paving the way and priming the technologies to allow us to live and thrive as a space fairing culture.
Music For Space is out now on Subtractive Recordings. Listen to it in full below.