This started life a long time ago as a Mattel BeeGees Rhythm Machine owned (since he was a kid) by my friend Peter Conheim (Negativland, Mono Pause, Neung Phak, Wet Gate). He gave it to David Wills (Negativland's The Weatherman) to make into a Booper (David Wills' own "circuit bent" devices he has been building since the late 70s from AM radios). You can hear the original Booper used all over Negativland's albums and especially on Don Joyce's Over The Edge radio program.

Recently it started acting up and not working "right" and the keyboard decided to stop functioning. Peter gave it to me to see "what I could do with it" or try to "fix it."

This is what it looked like when it arrived into my possession. The modifications that David added are the big knob potentiometer for pitch/feedback control, a switch for switching to different "modes" (I think), and Peter scraped the dangling wire over the threads of long screws which caused the machine to sort of play itself. Voodoo!

Here is what I added to the chaos. I couldn't fix the keyboard, but in poking around found about 5 neat new bends. I asked Peter if I could add them, and got a big thumbs up! So, I tracked the traces that serviced the keys in the keyboard, cut the appropriate ones and routed the bends thru the keyboard.

The keys that I routed the bends thru I painted appropriately pink and gold. Now when you press the painted keys the bends are triggered. In combination with the "bends" that David added, the built in pitch bend on the back, and the rhythm selector, this is now a very powerful and varied sound generator.

I also added some gold dots, and a switchable optical resistor with a couple of LED blinky rings (attached via an eyebolt) for optical sequencing fun! On the back, I added my stencil signature and paid homage to David who cracked it open first...


Here is a video on YouTube shot 8/18/07 of Peter playing the BooperGees along with the Billy BASStard I made for him, along with the boopers The Weatherman made for him (see those below).


Here is Peter's Negativland setup at the June 12, 2006 LA show at The Silent Movie Theater. I am also Negativland's sound guy.


Mouse over (but don't click...) the image to see:

1: The first Booper David helped Peter build out of a shower radio.

2: The second Booper David built for Peter out of a baby monitor. This one is an entirely new design that David came up with and is using in the traveling Negativlandland Art Show.

3: The Kaoss Pad I modified for Peter, adding blue LEDs like this one.

4: The BooperGees. Unfortunately I had just given it to him that nite and since now it is a bit of a difficult instrument to figure out he didn't have a chance to play it.


There are rumors of a video of me talking to David about the BooperGees (I called Peter on the phone, who happened to be at Mark Hosler's house where the Negativland gang were having a get-together. Peter put the phone on speakerfone and into a shower stall. David and I conversed that way and Peter may have gotten it all on video. David liked my "enhancements." Very Stupid!)

Completed: 6/10/06
Dimensions: Appx. 6" long
Current Status:

Taking up space at Peter's house.

Audio Bits:

BooperGees01.mp3 A squeeky noisy bit. [1:00]
BooperGees05.mp3 Satellite chirps in the aether. [0:40]
BooperGees08.mp3 Atari racecar noises and slow electronic drips to analog drum. [0:45]
BooperGees09.mp3 Pong as played in microspace. With digital chipmunks. [1:10]
BooperGees12.mp3 Analog compression waves. [0:40]
BooperGees19.mp3 A happy chirpy song. Good example of optical sequence control. [0:35]