Spacedog is one of the only bands on the circuit to give equal billing to its human and robot band members. Fashioned from found objects, fragments of musical instruments and open-source tech, our uncanny automata have been lovingly designed, built and programmed by Sarah Angliss (musician and engineer) and actor Colin Uttley, Spacedog’s ocassional compére. Sarah starting building robot performers as she needed to play more than one instrument at a time and wanted a more theatrical alternative to the laptop and loop pedal.
The Ealing Feeder (video from Roger Spy)
A vintage vaudevillian, Hugo is the disembodied head of a 1930s ventriloquist’s dummy. Sarah stumbled on Hugo at a Magic Circle event, when a retired magician decided to show her something that had been stashed in his dead friend’s attic. Hugo had been languishing in the loft for many years, kept out of sight as he ‘frightened the children’. Brought into the daylight and roboticised, Hugo is now a Spacedog stallwart, adding his trademark combination of knowing menace and showbiz style to the mix. A singer and dancer, he’s also known for his uncanny impersonation of John Logie-Baird’s own ventriloquial side-kick Stooky Bill who briefly flickered on the second ever televisor image, back in 1925.
Edgar Allan (crow)
This remarkably talented corvid Edgar Allan can sing and talk – and with a little coaxing, will also reveal an interesting take on Jungian philosophy. Don’t look in the eyes.
Sarah coaxes Edgar Allan to speak, live @ Televisor
Named in honour of theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore, Cara 2.0 is our ‘polite’ theremin-playing doll. These days, she’s largely relinquished her theremin (as there’s rarely room for two theremins on stage) and is more often seen dancing on top of the Ealing Feeder, Spacedog’s carillon. But you can catch an early example of her theremin playing on this fossilised Spacedog video. You can also see Clara 2.0 in action below, in our promo for Electroplasm – an evening of music and séance, in collaboration with psychologist Richard Wiseman.
Electroplasm promo – feat. Clara 2.0
The Ealing Feeder
This 28-note, polyphonic, electromechanical carillon is the backbone of many Spacedog numbers. We’ve sampled in, in songs such as My Death, and we use it live in other numbers such as For Laika the Electric Lankin. Originally mounted on a shoe rack found in the skip outside a shop, the Ealing Feeder has had a number of incarnations. Its latest name and look was inspired by a control panel at Battersea Power Station – Sarah visited Battersea with the arts collective ArtHertz who have been planning a live show in the space.
The Ealing Feeder plays an eerie, mechanised lullaby in our Electric Lullaby. This Spacedog song was inspired by a poem written around 1930 by a member of the Electrical Association for Women, a pioneering group who were seeking emancipation through the use of electric ‘servants’. In the lullaby, a mother is so intoxicated with excitement about electricity, she passes electric current through her baby to sooth him to sleep. The Electric Lullaby was performed live at Televisor – video coming soon!
The Ealing Feeder in For Laika
An early prototype of the Ealing Feeder, playing Prokofiev.