PBS Remixes Bob Ross, Julia Child and Mister Rogers

Melissa Block talks to John Boswell, aka "Melodysheep," the producer behind the recent PBS auto-tune mixes that feature material from Mister Rogers, Bob Ross and Julia Child.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

You're probably familiar with these voices.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAPPY LITTLE CLOUDS")

BOB ROSS: Hello, I'm Bob Ross.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KEEP ON COOKING")

JULIA CHILD: What makes a great chef?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GARDEN OF YOUR MIND")

FRED ROGERS: Hey, neighbor, welcome again to this neighborhood.

BLOCK: The voices of the late Fred Rogers, Julia Child and Bob Ross. But have you ever heard them like this?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAPPY LITTLE CLOUDS")

ROSS: (Singing) I believe, I believe every day is a good day when you paint.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KEEP ON COOKING")

CHILD: (Singing) I like to smell something cooking, makes me feel at home.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GARDEN OF YOUR MIND")

ROGERS: (Singing) It's good to be curious about many things.

BLOCK: That's also Fred Rogers, Julia Child and Bob Ross auto-tuned. To try to keep current with the times, PBS asked musician John Boswell to create remixes of some of the network's most iconic figures, and John Boswell joins me now. Welcome to the program, John.

JOHN BOSWELL: Thanks for having me.

BLOCK: Why don't you walk us through your process here, how you created these little songs around - by auto-tuning the voices of Fred Rogers, Julie Child and Bob Ross?

BOSWELL: Well, it all starts with watching the old episodes, and there's plenty to watch. But what I try and do is I try and pick up the funniest parts, the most inspiring parts, the parts that get across the person's message, and I'll isolate those samples and kind of collect them and try and see what kind of message I want to carry across in the final song. And then what I do from there is I go ahead and construct a song around what the message is, and I start with a chorus so something that will be repeated throughout the song and then I...

BLOCK: Like bring on the roasted potatoes for Julia Child.

BOSWELL: Exactly, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

BOSWELL: It was just too good to pass up.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KEEP ON COOKING")

CHILD: (Singing) Bring on the roasted potatoes, bring on the Montrachet. This is what cooking is all about.

BOSWELL: And then I'll build the verses around that and kind of - it takes on a life of its own. It's a lot of experimentation and trial and error, but it kind of coalesces into something consistent and unique and really fun to do.

BLOCK: So when you're watching the video, say, of the painter Bob Ross and he says let's build a happy little cloud.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAPPY LITTLE CLOUDS")

ROSS: (Singing) Let's build a happy little cloud. Let's build some happy little trees.

BLOCK: Would you immediately think, oh, that's it? I've got to use that.

BOSWELL: Oh, yeah. I mean, he has certain trademarks that you can't pass up. Happy clouds, happy trees, I think I had a collection of about 10 different happy little things that I wanted to use, and I had to just choose clouds and trees, you know, but he was going off about happy little bushes and happy little cabins and all that good stuff.

(LAUGHTER)

BOSWELL: So it was just a lot of fun.

BLOCK: What about for Mr. Rogers, a favorite moment for him?

BOSWELL: You know, there was a lot of really goofy stuff he did, and there's a lot of funny stuff. But I think his best moments was when he would just sit down at the camera and just kind of talk to you straight up and give you these pieces of - his little personal philosophy that would really have an impact.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GARDEN OF YOUR MIND")

ROGERS: (Singing) Did you ever grow anything in the garden of your mind?

BOSWELL: Even now, you know, 20 years later, I still listen to what he has to say, and it's really touching.

BLOCK: It's interesting when you watch these videos and listen to the songs, I mean, it - they're quite lovely tributes, really, to these icons who have passed on, who are no longer with us.

BOSWELL: Yeah. I think a lot of people when they, you know, click the link to the YouTube video, they're expecting something kind of goofy and disrespectful or just quick and non-interesting. But what I try and do is I respect the original message that each of these people kind of tried to convey, and I try and do that with respectful music and not too jarring of remixed work. And a lot of people have commented saying, you know, this - I came here expecting that, but, you know, what I've got was something kind of touching.

You know, a lot of people have been - have had emotional responses, and I think that's partially due to nostalgia and partially due to the musical treatment that is kind of going along with the message. You know, it's kind of the whole package that makes them kind of, you know, realize that this is something touching.

BLOCK: That's musician John Boswell in Bellingham, Washington, who auto-tuned Fred Rogers, Julia Child and Bob Ross for PBS. John, thanks so much.

BOSWELL: Thanks for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GARDEN OF YOUR MIND")

ROGERS: (Singing) Did you ever grow anything in the garden of your mind? You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind. It's good to be curious about many things. You can think about things and make believe. All you have to do is think, and they'll grow. Imagine every person you see is...

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.