On Feb. 8, astronaut Chris Hadfield and Barenaked Ladies singer Ed Robertson will premiere “I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing).” It’s a unique collaboration for a number of reasons, but first and foremost because Hadfield will be floating somewhere in outer space aboard the International Space Station, while Robertson will be joined by a youth choir in the CBC Toronto studios. It’s an out-of-this-world collaboration, to say the least.
For the weeks leading up to the premiere, Robertson will be updating us with interesting aspects about the project, something he says has been in the works for a long time.
Below, Robertson talks about when he first met Hadfield, and what he wanted to accomplish by writing a song with him.
I’ve been pals with Chris for years now. He actually reached out to the band over 10 years ago and said he’s a fan and offered to give us a tour of Mission Control when we were going through Houston on tour. Now I am a science geek from way back, so I was absolutely over the moon about this. He gave us the kind of tour where you walk past the people in the tour group and he opened the velvet rope up and we got to go right inside the shuttle simulator. It was really amazing.
Chris is an extremely articulate guy and he’s amazing at explaining very complex things in a way that they make perfect sense, which is my kind of science. I’m not a technical science guy, but science is kind of my religion and I study it by reading a lot of science books, popularist stuff like Big Bang by Simon Singh.
So Chris and I hit it off on that level, but he is also a pilot, obviously, and I’m a pilot; he plays guitar and writes songs, so we also hit it off on that level. Plus, he’s just a really cool dude. He’s technically proficient and unfathomably knowledgeable, and yet he comes across as the folksy guy who works at the marina, so we stayed in touch.
A few years ago we saw each other at an event, and he said that he’s going to be commander of the ISS, and while he’s up there for six months he wanted to make a record. Would I be interested in helping him do some writing and take it to the next level? I immediately said yes, that sounds incredible, no matter what I’m in the middle of I want to do that.
All that’s to say is that my first thought of what I wanted to accomplish with this was simply to collaborate with Chris. The ISS part makes the whole thing interesting and cool, but my ultimate goal was to simply write a really good song and help Chris out with his record.
When Music Monday got involved, I was really excited. I’ve had friends who have done it before, and I just thought it would be so cool to do that. The Barenaked Ladies don’t exist without public school music education. That’s where we come from, that’s the foundation of our musical learning and it’s why, 25 years later, I’m still a musician. It’s where you learn to play with other people, where you learn to collaborate, where you first discover what being part of something musical can be. It was all started because Chris and I wanted to do something together, but now that this is going to be used for a national music education program, it's just really exciting for me.
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on Jan 29, 2013